History of Valleyview School

History of Valleyview School



The following "History of Valleyview School" was written by Marilyn Bailey in 2007 to mark the celebration of the school's 50th anniversary. It appeared in the 2007 Spring/Summer "Oneonta High School Alumni Newsletter."

Since Valleyview School opened in 1957, many changes have taken place. The main office relocated and is now part of a larger complex with rooms for board meetings, guidance counselor, speech teacher, school nurse, school psychologist, and occupational and physical therapists. The library was relocated, has been remodeled, and added an adjoining computer lab. A new wing was added to the original building in 1994 for 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classrooms and other purposeful rooms.

Miss Gertrude Eldred was principal when Valleyview School opened in the Fall of 1957. In 1926, Miss Eldred began teaching 5th grade at the East End School, located on Main Street where the Burger King restaurant once stood and where a veterinary practice now stands. Later that year Miss Lawler retired and Miss Eldred became principal and remained a part time teacher. Her small office and a custodian's office was on the top floor. A large rope attached to a bell in the bell tower hung through the ceiling. Also on that floor were two classrooms with a folding door partition that could be opened for whole school assemblies that began with prayer, Bible readings, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of a patriotic song.

The original wooden District #11 school was constructed in 1880, but burned to the ground in 1900. The East End School was built of bricks in 1901 on the same site. Pupils enjoyed playing tag, dodge ball, Farmer in the Dell, and regular horseplay on the large playground behind the school and also in the old Wilber park on Park Street. Pupils who misbehaved had their hands slapped with a ruler or had their ears pulled.

The school became crowded as the pupil population grew and for fifteen years two classes met in a small empty family grocery store at the corner of Park and Main streets. As overcrowding continued, some classes only had half-day sessions. In 1956-1957, 1st and 2nd grades met for half a day only. 1st grade teacher Mrs. Muriel Thomas was concerned that her students were not getting adequate reading instruction. She devised a plan to meet with her students in small groups in some students' homes during the other half of each day. She implemented her plan but it was quickly discontinued. Some other teachers at the East End School were Miss Frances Ryan, Miss Bernice Saxton, Mrs. Marjorie Sutch, Mrs. Anna Bull, Miss Frances Townsend, Mrs. Catherine Stanley, Mr. Thomas Coady, and Mrs. Virginia Petchtle.

Staff and students were excited when the new Valleyview School opened in the Fall of 1957. Students no longer had to eat lunch in their classrooms or practice tumbling on a mat dragged into their classrooms. The new school had a dual room called a cafetorium, used for both lunch and school assemblies. Another welcome feature was the large gymnasium with maple flooring and adjacent shower and locker room. The modern classrooms had skydomes for sunlight, hot and cold water sinks with a drinking fountain, and intercommunication system, and storage closets. The lower grades had their own classroom bathrooms. As opposed to floor mounted wooden chairs and desks with inkwells, Valleyview now had pink and green topped desks designed to fit the height of pupils.

Miss Eldred retired in 1966 and Mr. John Higgins was principal for the next 27 years, retiring in 1994. Following him were Mrs. Ginger Uhl, Mrs. Deborah Fletcher, and Mr. Walter Baskin. After her first year at Valleyview, Miss Eldred wrote, "The children at Valleyview have made a splendid record and a fine beginning this first year in the new building." Superintendent of Schools Harold V. Hager said, "We are living proof to the world that we know our greatest asset for the future is our boys and girls...We do not plan any longer to teach violin in the boiler room." Current principal Mr. Baskin and the fine staff at Valleyview School continue the long tradition of educating boys and girls.

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