The halls of North Side School in East Williston have seen it all in 100 years, from chalk to Chromebooks and from construction to a devastating fire.
The history of the school was presented to a first-grade class by senior students in Dr. John Staudt’s College Regional Studies class on Thursday.
The North Side building that stands today was built in 1917. The school had four classrooms, three teachers and 63 students, from first grade through eighth grade.
By 1927, 143 children attended the school, and the library had 867 books in the library. The first school buses were introduced in 1939. The school began to expand with the new official library in 1948, and added the kindergarten and first-grade wings in 1953.
A fire that year began early in the morning on March 2 from what was suspected to be an old kiln. More than 200 firefighters worked for over three hours to put out the fire as it ripped its way toward the second floor. Ultimately, parts of the roof collapsed and 18 classrooms were destroyed. There were no casualties.
Within two years, the school was fixed. In 1983, the original North Side playground was built, and it was rebuilt in 2014. However, the building wasn’t the only thing changing over all these years.
Students in grades one through four in North Side now all have Chromebooks. Script is very rarely taught in elementary school if at all, said Henry Kupstas, the first-grade teacher.
“What’s good about the Chromebooks is the efficiency with storage and when dealing with a large amount of things, that’s great,” said Kupstas. “But, we have to look closely at things. We still have to be able to do certain things. It’s not a replacement of something like writing, it’s just a way to organize and make things. It’s important that we find a balance.”
Wheatley students in John Staudt’s College Regional Studies course talked to the first-graders about music trends over the years. Sydney Behar, a senior who will be attending Belmont University, stood in front of the class and asked, “Who knows who Kelly Clarkson is?”
Not a single student raised a hand. Instead, the first-graders knew artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Shawn Mendes.
Tables throughout the classroom were covered in old items and games that past students used to play such as kooky pens, dominoes, pick-up sticks, Japanese erasers and silly bands. Alongside those were common items that students had no idea existed. Some of these included dictionaries, CDs and VHS tapes.
“It’s just really cool and kind of weird to see how things have changed since we were here,” said Shannon Judge, a Wheatley senior. “Almost everything has changed, from the trends, to what we used to collect. There’s just a lot more technology now.”
North Side’s 100-year celebration will combine with the East Williston school district’s Annual Walkathon on Saturday, June 9, at 1 p.m., beginning with tours of the building, arts and crafts, and ending with the walk. All community members are welcome to attend.