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Dickinson High School.

A Comparison of the Old School With Other Academies in the County.

The Springfield Republican prints a long article on the school situation in Deerfield, from which we give these few extracts:

The publicity given to the question of education in Deerfield since the annual town meeting in March, when the citizens' reform movement elected six members of a school board of nine, has revealed a regrettable state of affairs in the old town, so famous in Massachusetts history. The reform committee in its efforts to improve the school system has met determined opposition form an element long notorious for its power to rule in Deerfield, and while a good start has been made toward the desired improvement, there is need of the strongest support and loyal encouragement from the citizens who have the welfare of the town at heart.

That the public schools have suffered from mismanagement is deplorable in itself, but it seems that the destructive influence has not been confined to these alone. Deerfield academy and Dickinson high school, an endowed institution with a past to be proud of, has also been allowed to decline, and the reason is not far to seek. The same influence which has proved harmful to the public schools has affected the academy and high school, which is controlled by a board of trustees. The century-old academy, which was once famous for its thorough work in preparing pupils for college, and in giving excellent educational training for life work, now has nine students in the regular course.

It is said, and with truth, that the country academy has suffered a decline of recent years, the high schools having taken its place, but does that fully explain the situation in Deerfield? There are still flourishing academies in other towns of the county and also in Hampshire county. Beginning with the western end of the county there is Sanderson academy and Ashfield high school, doing good work as ever has been done, probably. At Shelburne Falls is Arms academy, endowed by Maj. Ira Arms with less than half the funds with which Mrs. Dickinson endowed Dickinson academy. At Shelburne Falls they have as many pupils as the Deerfield institution had in its palmiest days. At Bernardston, Powers institute is still maintaining the traditions of an honorable past. In New Salem the old academy is doing good work. Down below South Deerfield is Smith academy in Hatfield and the Hopkins academy at Hadley.

There has been unprecedented falling off in the attendance of Dickinson academy. From over 80 down to less than a dozen is something entirely out of keeping with the attendance at other schools in the county. At Ashfield there were 27 pupils in the winter; Arms academy has had 90 enrolled this year; Powers institute at Bernardston keeps up its numbers with an attendance of 56 this spring term, and New Salem academy reports an average of 40 students for the past year. Hitchcock academy at Brimfield has 40 students at present, but there would be 50 if the school had not been much broken up by sickness during the winter and early spring. Is the soil of Deerfield less favorable to the growth of educational institutions than these enumerated? Why is it that the Dickinson academy alone of all its sister institutions should suffer?

With those in the preparatory department the Deerfield school numbers about 30 at present. As to the preparatory department opinions differ. Those who are working for the betterment of the schools, the breaking down of bossism, and the elimination of politics from school affairs stoutly maintain that there is no good reason for the creation or existence of such a department. They assert that is it an act of the minority members of the committee calculated to embarrass the efforts of the citizens committee who are seeking to build up and improve the public school system.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Deerfield Academy and Dickinson High School co-existed. The Academy was a private institution and the High School, built through a bequest made in 1875, was at least partly town supported. The internal politics of Deerfield reached a poisonous height, as described in this article, when two major factions collided: a reform faction seeking to reform the schools and a faction determined to keep things as they were. The schools themselves, as noted here, were almost universally determined to be in a deplorable shape. Despite the efforts of the reform group, the schools would remain joined. They were finally forced apart by state action in a law drafted in 1917 and enacted in 1923. However, the schools themselves began a dramatic comeback with the appointment in 1902 of Frank Boyden to direct the Deerfield Academy. Through his leadership, the Academy quickly regained its reputation and in the process the quality of the Dickinson Academy also rose dramatically.


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"Dickinson High School"

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   May 12, 1900
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   2.25"
height   9.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L02.085

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See Also...

"Deerfield School Troubles"

"South Deerfield- High School Building Dedicated With Excellent Program"

"Deerfield School Controversy"

Deerfield Academy/ Dickinson High School

Deerfield Academy/ Dickinson High School

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