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"South Deerfield- High School Building Dedicated With Excellent Program"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 1858, the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, was forced by the state to provide free high school education for all its young residents. Prior to that, a person who wanted a high school education only had the Deerfield Academy, a private, tuition-charging institution, to go to. Although some scholarships were available, for most young people there was no free education past elementary school. The town was not able to raise the money for a totally new school, and as a result they joined with the Deerfield Academy and created a joint high school with it. That existed, a bit uneasily, from 1858 to 1875. That year, a bequest by a rich donor funded the Dickinson School, Deerfield's own high school, which was taught by Deerfield Academy teachers but mainly funded by the town. In 1917, the state demanded complete separation from private schools, a process that had to be completed by 1923. A buyout purchased the school from the Academy, and the new high school building was then built using town funds.
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