In honor of the 1st day of the 2015-16 school year, “06880” celebrates the very 1st day of a new school.
Back in 1953, Coleytown Elementary School opened its then-modern doors. Fred Cantor — an indefatigable researcher and (more importantly) 1965 Coleytown El grad — has unearthed a fascinating scrapbook documenting that initial year.
Created by 5th graders Marcia Sorisi, Karen Olson and Jan Pontius, it offers an intriguing look into bygone days.
For example, famed Saturday Evening Post and US postage stamp illustrator Stevan Dohanos created a mural for the lobby of the new building his young children attended.
Called “American Heritage,” it showed scenes like the Liberty Bell, flag and “American Indians.” Below, he puts the finishing touches on 1 of the 3 panels.
The librarian — Mrs. Stevenson — said: “Nowadays … if children don’t become readers when they are small, they probably never will.”
Interscholastic sports were big in Westport’s elementary schools (in 1953, the others were Greens Farms, Bedford and Saugatuck). Besides the Coleytown baseball team — in spiffy Major League-type uniforms below — there were reports of the 6th grade girls playing Bedford in kickball, and the boys basketball team meeting Bedford as a fundraiser.
The 5th graders wrote about everyone getting polio shots — without any kind of anti-vaccine movement — as well as a “Dental Honor Roll.”
The young Coleytown El students did plenty of writing, back in the day. Patricia Ferrone analyzed why she liked the school: “It is very modern. The teachers are very nice.” Also, Mrs. James gave gum chewing days. And there were water fountains, a built-in sink, maps of the world, plate lunches and a health room.
One more tidbit from the scrapbook: the creation of a class newspaper. The goal was to experience “the task which faces newsmen in collecting the news.”
The editor-in-chief was a boy named Gordon Joseloff. Sounds like the experience served him well. Before winning 2 terms as 1st selectman, Joseloff was a CBS correspondent, senior producer and bureau chief in New York, Moscow and Tokyo. Today, he’s editor and publisher of WestportNow.com.
If you’ve got memories of your 1st year in a new Westport school — or elementary school memories of any kind from here — click “Comments” below. Let’s celebrate the school year ahead with a fun look back!
(Hat tips: Fred Cantor and Carol Borrman)