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
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.