The Evening Sentinel, Dec. 20, 1948

Judge Eldridge E. Seeley, chairman of the Oxford centralized school building committee packs the mortar into place, sealing into the cornerstone of the new building the container holding items of historical interest concerning the school.  Watching with interest is Richard VonBeren of Brown and VonBeren, Inc., architects. Laying of the cornerstone preceded the dedication ceremony inside the school Saturday afternoon.  (Budd Photo)

The Evening Sentinel, Dec. 20, 1948

"Little Red Schoolhouse: Era Closes in Town with New School's Dedication

Oxford residents witnessed the passing of the era of "the little schoolhouse" Saturday, as Judge E. E. Seeley, chairman of the centralized school building committee pointed out at dedication ceremonies in the school auditorium which followed the laying of the cornerstone.

The program, which was attended by a large number of Oxford residents and visiting school officials, opened at 2 p.m. on the school terrace with the invocation given by Rev. E. G. Zellars, pastor of the First Congregational church. Judge Seeley then placed the container of documents relating to the new school into the cornerstone and sealed it with mortar. The stone was then moved into place.  One side is carved with "1947" and the other with the name of the school and the architects.

The remainder of the program took place in the new auditorium.  Members of the building committee and speakers were seated on the state before a huge American flag backdrop. Hubert E. Stoddard, vice chairman of the building committee, presided at the affair.

Rev. William E. Soule, priest-in-charge of St. Peter's and Christ Episcopal churches, gave the invocation.  Principal Richard E. Wilkinson led the audience in singing "America."

A brief history of the Oxford school system was given by Thomas Schreiber, former board of education chairman. Mr. Schreiber told his audience that in 1837 there were 15 schools in Oxford. At that time a teachers' board amounted to as little as one dollar a week. He traced the schools through the years, mentioning the factors which led to more and more consolidation.

Judge Seeley then described the steps which preceded use of the new centralized school, telling of the work of the planning committee and the building committee. He introduced to the audience the members of the building committee, architects, and the contractors.

Judge Seeley turned the keys of the new school over to First Selectman Fred R. Bice, Jr., who thanked the building committee for its untiring efforts. Mr. Bice then gave the keys to Franklyn R. Sanford, chairman of the board of education, to symbolize the use of the building being given to the board of education.  Mr. Sanford said the board of education has a great responsibility to improve continually the quality of education given in the Oxford schools to justify the great expense to the town of the new building. He introduced the school teachers and urged the townspeople to visit them in their schoolrooms after the program.  He also introduced visiting school officials, Carl Bair, former superintendent of schools in Oxford; Superintendent of Schools Herman Urban and principal Edward Hugh MacConnie of Seymour and Dr. James O'Hara, superintendent of schools at Derby.

Mrs. John E. Smedley, present of the Parent-Teacher association, thanked the townspeople for their cooperation with the P.T.A's drive to raise funds for new school equipment.

Mrs. Gilbert Speaks

Mrs. Helen L. Gilbert of Norwich, member of the state board of education, spoke on "The Future of Education in Connecticut." She discussed a number of problems facing the board including the immediate expansion of nearly all school systems as the children born during the "baby boom" start school.

"At present Connecticut has about 9,000 teachers," she said, "But because of the expansion coming, it is estimated 15,0000 will be employed in the state schools 12 years hence."

"We must never say, 'what was good enough for my grandfather is good enough for me,'" she said, "Because it isn't and grandfather himself wouldn't be satisfied to hear us say that."

She cautioned that the demarcation between freedom and license is small and that people must be careful to keep unbridled license from tearing down the democratic system in this country.  

Mrs. Gilbert said the board is embarking on a 10-year program to build better teachers for the future so as not to fail the future citizens of the state. She stressed the importance of all the people working for the aim of better school systems for all children.

The program closed with the benediction offered by Rev. Albert A. Callahan and the singing of "America the Beautiful." Refreshments were served by the P.T.A. and the townspeople inspected the new building.