School Daze

It’s midterm time at Staples High School — so how about a pop quiz for everyone?

The subject is “Westport schools.” The answers are below. No cheating though — and no Googling!

  1. How many students were in Staples’ first graduating class? And what was special about them?
  2. Edward T. Bedford provided the funds for Bedford Elementary School and Bedford Junior High. But he also helped build another Westport school. Which was it?
  3. If you went looking for the old Burr Farms Elementary School, what would you find there today?
  4. True or false: The Doors, Eric  Clapton, Rascals and Rolling Stones all performed at Staples.
  5. Name 2 predecessors of Greens Farms Academy.
  6. If a sneaker brand was associated with Bedford Middle School, what would it be?
  7. A longtime principal of the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street shares the same last name as the founder of one of Westport’s first private academies. What is that name?
  8. The 2nd principal of Staples High School has a parkway in Connecticut named for him. Who was he?
  9. Two  Staples High School athletic teams practiced in the basement of the old school, on Riverside Avenue. Which teams were they?
  10. Many decades ago, the Westport Board of Education rejected a proposal to add Spanish to the foreign language curriculum. Why?
Edward T. Bedford is the benefactor of not 1, not 2, but 3 Westport schools.

Edward T. Bedford is the benefactor of not 1, not 2, but 3 Westport schools.

Before I give the answers, here’s the reason for today’s quiz:

On Sunday, January 29 (3 p.m.), the Westport Historical Society hosts a reception for its new exhibit.

“Westport School Days: 1703-Present” offers a wide and fascinating look at the evolution of education here in town. From the first formal class (on “Green’s Farms Common”), through the growth of private academies and public schools, to today’s nationally renowned system, there’s a lot to learn.

Maps, photos and memorabilia — report cards! a bench from the original Adams Academy! — make for intriguing viewing.

Whether you went to school here or not — and whether you were an A student or spent all your time in the principal’s office — this is one exhibit not to be absent for.

And now, your test results:

  1. There were 6 students in Staples’ first graduating class. All were girls.
  2. Edward T. Bedford helped build both Bedford Elementary School and Bedford Junior High — and also Greens Farms El.
  3. Burr Farms Elementary School is now the site of large homes, on Burr School Road. The athletic fields are still there, however.
  4. False. All of those acts actually did appear at Staples — except the Stones.
  5. Greens Farms Academy’s predecessors include Mrs. Bolton’s School and the Kathleen Laycock Country Day School.
  6. A sneaker brand associated with Bedford Middle School would be Nike. The school is built on the former site of Nike missile silos.
  7. Both the boys and girls rifle teams practiced in the basement of Staples High School, when it was on Riverside Avenue. There was a shooting range down there.
  8. Dorothy Adams was the longtime principal of Saugatuck Elementary School. Ebenezer Adams founded Adams Academy. Both buildings remain. Saugatuck is now elderly housing on Bridge Street; Adams Academy is a historic site on North Morningside Drive.
  9. The Wilbur Cross Parkway is named for Staples High’s 2nd principal. He went on to become a distinguished professor at Yale University — and the governor of Connecticut.
  10. The Board of Education rejected a proposal to add Spanish to the foreign language curriculum because they believed it would have little value for Westport students.

(For more information on the Westport Historical Society exhibit, click here.)

The original Staples High School on Riverside Avenue ...

The original Staples High School on Riverside Avenue …

... and the school today.(Photo/Julie Mombello)

… and the school today. (Photo/Julie Mombello)

11 responses to “School Daze

  1. Interesting data; however, there seems to be a mix-up in the numbering of the answers. The answer for # 7 is at # 8; the answer for # 8 is at # 9 and the answer for # 9 is at # 7.

  2. Charles Taylor

    I remember that in fall of 1958 Staples football team dressed out in Bedford JR high Basement and Played on Bedfords Jr. High Football field…which was backed up to the old Staples High. Staples never had a score board in the 3 years we played there. In fall of 1959 we played the first game on the current Staples football field…w/o a scoreboard.

  3. Charles Taylor

    In re was no PA system mad I can’t remember one in 1959 or 1960.

  4. Charles Taylor

    In 1959 etc.

  5. My home room was in that old building, second floor front right corner. We hated fire drills as we had to go down the rusty fire escape on the side that I think was held on by like two loose bolts. Mr Allen was my hr teacher. Mr Friese taught mechanical drawing in the basement and driver Ed was down there too. Class of ’59.

    • Despite the fire escapes, I miss the building. The town should never have torn it down– they destroyed a valuable piece of its history.
      ADW Staples 1956

  6. Video of the original school at 70 North Ave before and after the 1980 Renovation is on my Facebook page at:

  7. Bob Weingarten

    FYI. The Westport Historical Society will open its exhibit Westport School Days 1703-Present on January 29, 2017 until March 25, 2017. The exhibit will highlight the evolution of formal education in Westport. Hopefully it will bring back many fond memories to people that attended our public and private schools. Older posting of articles contained on Dan’s blog will also be included in the exhibit. The opening will be on January 29 from 3-5PM in the Sheffer Gallery.

    • Does anyone know if there will be pictures of students and teachers from the mid to late 1800’s? My great grandfather taught at Saugatuck (not sure of the school) and at the Cross Highway School from the 1850’s to the late 1800’s. I’ve never seen a picture of him – I have many old photographs but all are unlabeled.

  8. sandra johnson

    Another great history lesson -thanks, Dan!

  9. Bob Weingarten

    We will have old photos of students and teachers from the 1890s but not many. We would like more and have been asking for those from residents of Westport. So please come to the exhibit and see if you can find ones of your family since there will be several old photos in the exhibit.