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History of Newcomerstown Schools
Newcomerstown Alumni 2006 Scholarship Essay
by Jamie Wright

The Newcomerstown School System has changed drastically from its establishment. The district began in a two-room cabin with all grade levels learning together. It now consists of four different schools with different grade levels in each. The schools have changed in a lot of ways and the district has come a long way from when it began.


Jacob J. Miller taught the first classes held in the Newcomerstown area. The classes were held in a two-room cabin, which was located in the vicinity of what we know today as Pilling Street. Lessons included the 3-R’s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Mr. Miller taught these because they were the three subjects considered the most important. He taught these lessons to pioneer children as early as 1818.


The first village schoolhouse was a one-room log house. It was located on State Street, which then, was called State Road. In 1856, the Akron School Law was voted for adopting a school system and a school district. Our school district was organized in 1856. It encompassed all of Oxford Township north of the River and The Nugent Farm, which was 600 acres. Newcomerstown’s school district was very large. When the Akron School Law was adopted, there were two small school buildings within the Newcomerstown Corporation Limits. One of the buildings was located on State Street. The other school building was on a lot west of the Methodist Episcopal Church. These buildings housed all the children in the Newcomerstown District. From 1856 to 1857, the two-story frame building was erected. This was called Union School. It was very near the site of where the East School is located today. The Union School was located more to the rear of the lot compared to where it is today. This two-story school building had a bell tower topping it.


By 1873, the number of children wanting to attend school was rapidly increasing. The Newcomerstown School District realized that another school was desperately needed. A small building was built about two miles northeast of Newcomerstown. This school was still located in the district. Having this school made it much easier for children in this area to attend school. It was much closer for the kids to walk to school in bad weather.


In 1880, the Newcomerstown School District expanded once again. Two classrooms were added to the Union School. Also in 1880, the first class of students graduated and received diplomas. This class was small in number, only consisting of five students. These students received diplomas upon graduating for completion of a three-year teacher’s course. As of 1880, there was no auditorium in Newcomerstown, so graduation ceremonies took place at the Presbyterian Church. The first five graduates of Newcomerstown Schools graduated on June 2, 1882. Two more graduations took place in the Presbyterian Church. The classes of 1883 and 1884 both had their Commencements in the Presbyterian Church. In 1885, graduation ceremonies finally moved to the Opera House, which had recently been built.
1900 came along, and the district once again recognized that the school facilities that they had were not sufficient for the needs of the growing town. The district decided to build two identically designed school buildings. Both buildings would be two stories and the attic of one building would be a gymnasium. The East building was the building chosen to house the gymnasium. The district now had to decide on the sites of these two new schools. One would be built where the Union School sat on College Street. It would be known as the East Building. It would house high school students. It would also include a gymnasium, which would be used for sporting events. The second building would be constructed on the corner of State and River Street. It would be known as Maplewood, or West School. This building would house students grades first through eighth. In 1924, the Newcomerstown Schools enlarged again. A high school was built. It consisted of three floors and an auditorium. The high school also included a multi-purpose room that would be used as a gymnasium for basketball, an area for school plays, and a place to hold graduations. The next expansion of the Newcomerstown Schools occurred in 1936 when and annex was added on to the high school. There were classrooms, a laboratory for chemistry and physics classes, lockers, dressing rooms, and facilities for home economics classes.


On March 11, 1955, devastation occurred to the Newcomerstown School District. A terrible tornado came through the town, wiping out one of the schools. The East building was severely damaged. The tornado’s winds completely took out a fifth grade classroom. Luckily, the tornado struck early in the morning before children were in class. This saved the children from injuries and even death. Now, a new school building was a necessity.


The Maplewood, or West School building was condemned during the interim between 1955 and 1957. The Newcomerstown School District decided to build two completely new one-story buildings. While these buildings were being constructed, classes were held in various other buildings throughout the town. They were held in spots such as The Masonic Temple, The CIO Union Hall, and The Trinity Methodist, Nazarene, and Presbyterian Churches. Since the school buildings were unusable, the town saw the completion of two new buildings in 1957. One building was one story and had seven rooms. This was very different compared to the previous two-story structure. Instead of the two elementary buildings being the same size as before, the new buildings were two different sizes. The East School had seven rooms and the West School consisted of seventeen rooms. The new West School was located on Beaver Street instead of its previous location. The new building was built on thirty-two acres of land purchased by the Newcomerstown Board of Education. The West School included a cafeteria. The students attending East School were bused to West School in order to eat lunch. The West School also had a flat floor auditorium with a stage. Now, the two elementary schools had a place to hold their Christmas programs.


A bond was issued and passed in 1965 for a new high school building. The new building became a reality in 1965 and by December, children occupied it. The old high school became the Middle School and housed students in grades six, seven, and eight. The new high school had a multi-purpose room, which consisted of a flat floor and bleacher seats around the outside. This complex was used for sports, but not for the Thespian Musical Productions, which were still done in the Middle School auditorium.


In 1966, a local couple donated a large sum of money to the Newcomerstown Board of Education to buy a tract of eleven acres. These eleven acres were to be used to build a new athletic stadium. A modern stadium was erected and dedicated in 1967. It was called Lee Stadium. It had an eight-lane track, a softball, band, and football practice field, baseball diamond, pole vault, shot put, and high jump areas. It was also well lit and used during the Fourth of July for fireworks productions. A brick concession stand and ticket booth was purchased by the Lee family and added to the complex in 1969.


Newcomerstown Schools have come a long way from when they began. The System overcame hardships to get where it is today. The history of Newcomerstown Schools is very important and is something that every student attending should recognize and be familiar with.


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