Thomas C. Armstrong Middle School – Fall 1967

Wayne Middle School
Wayne Middle School

That’s what it was originally called.  Seems like it was mostly called Wayne Middle School when my kids went there.  Maybe one day we’ll have a post about who Thomas C. Armstrong was.  But this post is about the building and opening of the Middle School.  I have a unique perspective as I was part of the Wayne Class of 1974.

Probably sometime in 1965 or 1966, the decision was made to build a middle school.  Grades 7-12 were at the James A. Beneway High School, and 4-6  at Ontario Elementary and Walworth Elementary.  Space was an issue, and the decision was made to have grades 6-8 at the middle school (Walworth and Ontario).  Freewill School was not yet built.

It must have been planned that the middle school would open in the Fall of 1967, because as it happened, the incoming 6th grade class (of 1974) had no where to go.  The middle school was not yet completed.  There was not enough room in the existing schools.  So in September 1967, the incoming sixth grade arrived to an unfinished school.  The 7th and 8th grades stayed in the high school for the time being.

They readied enough classrooms on the first floor to handle the 6th grade students.  There were no blackboards, no lockers.  Walls were not painted.  The heat probably didn’t work, but it was September.  The cafeteria, gym, music room and library were not finished or usable.  Seems like we were outside a lot that fall.

So we had to bring our lunch.  Gym was outside if the weather was good.  If not, we usually ended up doing calisthenics in the classroom.  We were on the first floor, and not allowed to go to the second floor.

That year, 6th grade still was one teacher for all (most) subjects.  We didn’t have periods and change classes.  I should remember the teachers that year – Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kiersbilck, Mr. Pierce, Mr. Howland, Mr. MacDonald.  I’m drawing a blank on the rest.  Who did I miss?

As the fall went on, gradually progress was being made towards completion.  At some point we moved to the second floor, as that is where the 6th grade classes were to be located.  I think we started to eat in the cafeteria, though no food was available.  Blackboards were installed and walls were being painted.  The gym was not done.  I remember the floor being installed, and that the finish was to be applied during Christmas vacation.

After January 1, 1968, everything changed.  It was completed to the point where 7th and 8th grade classes were moved to the middle school.  We no longer has it to ourselves.  We were now the lowest class on the totem pole.  The entertainment at lunchtime improved though, as we could watch the 8th grade boys try to stick forks into the cafeteria ceiling.  Of course many more changes have taken place there over the years, but it was interesting to be there at the beginning.

From 1985-2001, I lived right down the road from the middle school and drove by it daily.  During one summer, I noticed that the school was undergoing some sort of renovation, but all the entrances had enclosures around them.  Many (or all?) windows were covered, and some had large hoses attached.  Asbestos.  In 1967, apparently asbestos was not yet known as hazardous.  In the 1990’s they spent a lot of money removing it.  Once the school was completed, I’m sure the asbestos levels were minimal, assuming it wasn’t disturbed.  But in the fall of 1967 when it was under construction, who knows how much asbestos was in the air.  Certainly the workers had the most risk.  Hopefully no long term effects for my classmates.

But it was a long time ago.  Maybe some of my classmates can add parts I left out.

By the way, still looking for people who might be willing to contribute stories, maybe similar this one, about Wayne Central History, or Alumni News, etc.  Now with the login system, it is easy to assign permissions.  It is also very easy to add content here.  Contact me with ideas.