By Alexandra Molnar and Zenya Molnar
In 1851, Shrewsbury was divided into seven districts with one school building for each district. Each school had students in grades 1-8. By 1879, there was one grammar school (grades 7-9) and one high school (grades 10-12). Due to the addition of the grammar and high schools, the primary schools changed to have only grades 1-6.
When the schools were first opened, the school schedule and attendance depended on the harvest season; more students attended school in the winter after the harvest ended. The student body was predominantly female because it was more common for men to be occupied by farm work, and therefore fewer men attended school. Schools operated year-round in the mid- to late 1800s. In 1882, 32 students graduated from the high school.
In 1850 school subjects included: geography, grammar, history and arithmetic. The schools offered a classical education, including art and music. The sixth-grade curriculum started to include United States history in 1894 so that students could learn the subject before leaving school. U.S. history was originally taught in the ninth grade, but many students left school before reaching this level.
In 1871 a high school teacher with a college education received a salary of $20 per week. In comparison, a primary school teacher received $7-9 per week.
CURRENT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Beal Early Childhood Center: built in 1922
Beal Early Childhood Center, located at 1 Maple Ave., was founded as Major Howard W. Beal Memorial High School for students in grades 7-12. In 1923, the school’s population was 300 students. In 1925, 350 students were enrolled, and corridors were being used for classrooms. Now, as an early childhood center, its enrollment is 292 kindergarteners as of October 2013.*
Coolidge Elementary School: built in 1927
Coolidge Elementary School, situated at 1 Florence St., currently enrolls 389 students in grades K-4. In its earlier years, it had 12 classrooms and now has a total of 22 after renovations in the mid-1980s and additions in 1995.
Paton Elementary School: built in 1950
Paton Elementary School, located at 58 Grafton St., is named after Walter J. Paton, a former math teacher at Major Howard W. Beal Memorial High School who died while serving in World War II. Its enrollment is 340 students in grades 1-4.
Parker Road Preschool: built in 1954
Parker Road Preschool is located at 15 Parker Road and enrolls 160 preschoolers aged 3-5. Students enroll based on a lottery system.
Oak Middle School: built in 1957
Oak Middle School, located at 45 Oak St., opened in 1957 as Shrewsbury High School. It was the town’s high school until the last high school class graduated from it in 2001. The current Shrewsbury High School replaced the former high school which became Oak Middle School for students in grades 7-8.
Sherwood Middle School: built in 1964
Sherwood Middle School, located at 28 Sherwood Ave., was built in 1964 as a middle school. Currently it has students in grades 5-6. Between its founding in 1964 and its renovation and re-opening in January 2013, Sherwood Middle School enrolled students in grades ranging from 5-8. Its enrollment today is 980 students.
Spring Street Elementary School: built in 1967
Spring Street Elementary School, located at 123 Spring St., enrolls 367 students in grades K-4.
Floral Street Elementary School: built in 1997
Floral Street Elementary School, located at 57 Floral St., is the newest elementary school in Shrewsbury. It offers grades 1-4, and its current enrollment is 785 students.
Shrewsbury High School: built in 2002
Shrewsbury High School, located at 64 Holden St., has students in grades 9-12. The school has many features including an indoor track, an 850-seat auditorium, and a large media center. It currently enrolls 1,650 students.
*All enrollment numbers are the latest data from October 2013.