Trenton’s Junior No. 1, 1916

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ON THE FOREFRONT:
Trenton’s Junior No. 1, 1916

Curated by Karl J. Flesch


In the Museum: September 26 through March 21
Enter Our Ongoing Virtual Exhibit Here
Artifacts and Memorabilia
Photographs by Robert J. Sammons and J. Carlos Vargas

Share your Junior No. 1 memories, insights, or photos at tms@ellarslie.org.

The Story of the Junior High Movement and Trenton’s Junior No. 1

The junior high movement started in the western part of the United States and Trenton was a pioneer in the movement. In the midst of World War One, Trenton goes from a system of elementary schools of eight grades and a high school of four grades to a plan of elementary schools of six grades, three grades for junior high school and three grades for high school. 

This would eliminate the sharp break between elementary and high school and to provide a more varied and effective education for pupils of the adolescent age. It meant that the junior high school grades would ultimately be placed in new buildings. The facilities would be planned for the new kind of education proposed.

Trenton educators would recommend to build the first new junior high school in the eastern section of the city. Here there was the greatest need for a new school due to its crowded classrooms and the fastest-growing population of students. However, the Almshouse site in the north section of the city at Princeton Avenue and Southard Street was already owned by the city and was chosen for its first junior high school over the high cost of real-estate along Greenwood Avenue. 

William A. Poland, the Business Director of the Trenton Board of Education and a noted architect designs the new junior high school building. Poland was also the architect of the 2nd Masonic Temple, Broad Street Bank Building, Elks Home on North Warren Street, and Sacred Heart Church’s Catholic Club among others.

The $260,000 school is constructed in under two years with room for 1,200 students. The school, the largest in Trenton at the time, consisted of 18 regular classrooms, science labs, library, auditorium, boys’ and girls’ lunch rooms and gymnasiums and huge shop areas for manual training (metal working, wood working, clay working and print shops) for boys and domestic science training (sewing rooms, fitting rooms, dyeing and pressing room, and kitchens) for girls.

The opening of the school was on October 30, 1916, after a 7-week delay of opening all of Trenton schools that fall. The reasoning was quarantine for children under 18 from theaters, moving picture houses, and all public gatherings due to infantile paralysis (now known as polio) sweeping the country.