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    History of Springfield Elementary School
     
    The Pennsylvania public school system went into operation in Springfield Township in the latter part of the 18th century. The first records of the school district go back to 1860 when thirteen schoolhouses were in session for five months of each year.

    The history of Springfield Elementary School in Pleasant Valley begins with the establishment of a high school in Pleasant Valley in 1903, almost 100 years ago. Seventeen 8th and 9th grade pupils were enrolled in the high school with classes held in the front room on the second floor of what was then known as Weierbach's General Store in Pleasant Valley. Henry R. Trumbower was the principal and only teacher. Ira Frankenfield and Clyde Frankenfield were in the first graduating class in 1905. Clyde Frankenfield became a teacher. His first teaching job was in 1909 at Salem School on Salem Road in the Rocky Valley area of the township. They later became school principals and were very active in schoolwork in the township.

    On April 29, 1910, commencement exercises of the senior class were held at Springfield Church. Class roll: Marie W. Street, M. Emma Campbell, Harry L. Seifert, Charles A. Wolbach, Paul Mease, Arthur J. Weiss, and Roscoe S. Snyder. William T. Melchior, Principal, Ira Frankenfield, Assistant Principal, and J. H. Hoffman, Superintendent.

    In 1914, William Thompson Melchior succeeded Mr. Trumbower. He lived in one room on the second floor of Weierbach's Store, and used the larger room beside it as a classroom. He taught the high school classes there for a number of years. George Cressman later taught the high school classes at Weierbach's Store. Cressman's two sons were later with the State Department of Education in Harrisburg. Irvin Horne was assistant principal at the high school for many years.

    In 1913-14, a new high school was built on the site of present Springfield Elementary School. Ira Frankenfield was principal, with Calvin Eakin as assistant principal. They also served as teachers. After the Christmas holidays that year, the students came back to the classroom in Weierbach's store, gathered up books and other belongings and walked up the hill to their new school in the village. At that time, the high school had thirty-six pupils, with nine students in each of the four grades.

    For those times, the new high school was a handsome and imposing building. There were two spacious classrooms on the first floor. A large entrance hall, with wide stairways on each side, led to the second floor. A large auditorium with a stage was on the second floor. This was quite a change from the small crowded rooms above Weierbach's Store. There was room now for class plays and other entertainment. A contract with the Lyceum Bureau furnished many programs and earned money for needed equipment.

    However, there was also a need for more land for playground area. An active Springfield Township Alumni, which was composed of all graduates of Springfield Schools, had been in existence since 1901. They directed their activities to making money for expanding the playground facilities.

    In 1920, electric power was installed the high school.

    Transportation of students marked a new era for Springfield Township schools. At first pupils either walked or furnished their own transportation. While William T. Melchior was principal of the high school, he drove from Springtown to Pleasant Valley in a rather large horse and carriage. The high school students from his area rode with him. The school board paid him $2.00 per pupil per week for providing their transportation to school. This is the first record of pupil transportation in Springfield Township, and is believed to be a first for the state of Pennsylvania.

    In 1927, the school board awarded a three-year contract to Albert Strock to transport students from Springtown to the high school in Pleasant Valley. A similar contract was awarded to Oliver Hammel to haul pupils from Zion Hill and Passer to the high school. Previously Zion Hill high school pupils had gone to Quakertown or Coopersburg by trolley with the school board paying for their tuition.

    In 1932, Ed Haney and Mark Mease were awarded the contracts to drive the school bus. They owned their own buses and had to pay all their own expenses. They were paid seven dollars a day. At that time, all the roads were dirt roads and there were many problems with rain soaked, muddy roads and snowdrifts in wintertime. Other early school bus drivers were Edward Haney, Edith Blair, and Charles Freeh.

    In 1939-1940, a group of local people put on a play in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. The play was repeated three times to packed houses at Pleasant Valley, and then presented in neighboring districts. Enough money was raised to purchase and grade the land north of the building. The high school got its play area and it became a favorite picnic area for the community.

    Dr. John Geissinger was Supervising Principal during the late 1930s. He made an attempt at consolidating the schools by transporting children from different grades to different schools. This relieved crowding in some schools. In the eastern end of the township this consolidation of grades by transportation was solved by a jointure with the Durham Township in 1946. It also relieved over-crowding in Springfield Township and a declining pupil population in Durham Township. Durham Township agreed to recognize Springfield High School as their High School.

    In 1945, a state law was passed requiring all small school districts to combine within a year. State authorities were pushing for the consolidation, which would mean expensive new buildings or equally expensive renovations. None of the township schools were modern. Those schools that had electricity had it because the PTA's paid for the cost of wiring the building and were paying the cost of the electricity. Few schools had their own source of water supply and none of them had indoor plumbing. In 1945, at the time of the state law eliminating small high schools, Springfield High School had five rooms with 88 students in grades 9 to 12, and six teachers. The township's elementary school system involved 380 to 400 students housed in seven one-room schools and two two-room schools.

    Springfield High School students occupied a building erected in 1914, consisting of two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs, and a basement room for agriculture, The school had no inside bathroom. One faucet in the science room filled containers for drinking water. Students drank from a cup. Instead of lunch in a school cafeteria, students were permitted to cross the road to Thom's refreshment stand. The school had a part time janitor to sweep halls. Teachers were responsible to clean their own rooms. The school board leased the neighboring Eli Fretz farm to provide cows, chickens, and crops for the agricultural department. It had one athletic field. There were three school buses with drivers Charles Freeh, Mark Mease, and in Durham, Ed Haney. In 1945, the first thing to do was provide bathrooms and drinking water in the high
    school. The people of Springfield Township approved a $50,000 expenditure for a septic system and installation of inside toilet facilities and drinking water fountains in the high school.

    The president of the Springfield School Board was Floyd Rau. The president of the Durham
    School Board was David Rau, son of Floyd Rau. The two school systems united to become the Durham-Springfield School System, with ten school directors. The high school was called
    Springfield-Durham High School. It was the job of Melvin Mack to oversee education of the students within the schools.

    In 1946, the School Board purchased the former Mt. Carmel Church, a small frame building adjacent to the high school in Pleasant Valley. The church building was renovated into two classrooms by Springtown contractor John Clair Hershey. One room became the 8th grade by taking the 8th grade students out of the one-room schools and putting them at the high school location. The other room became a commercial department after a commercial teacher was hired and typewriters were purchased. These rooms were utilized as shop and agriculture classes. They were much needed when the old high school became an elementary school.

    In 1947, a law was passed stating that school districts could not exist without at least 1500 pupils.

    In 1948, indoor toilet facilities were added.

    In 1948, four districts, Bridgeton, Durham, Springfield, and Tinicum united to form one new school district, the Palisades Joint School District, with twenty school directors. The four districts opted to build a new high school. A study was done to determine the site of the new high school. It was to be located in the middle point of the area, in Kintnersville, eighteen miles from Zion Hill to the North, and eighteen miles from Point Pleasant to the South. Construction of the new high school was begun and completed in 1953.

    In February 1953, Springfield High School students moved from the location in pleasant Valley to the new high school, as well as the seventh graders from the elementary schools. The elementary grades for Springfield Township with their teachers moved into the vacated high school. The children were placed in grades one to six. Mrs. Esther Stever was principal of the
    school.

    The two-room Passer School on Richlandtown Pike in the Passer area was retained as an elementary school until the consolidation and additions to the former Springfield High School building were completed. The former high school then became the consolidated elementary school for the township. The old high school was renamed to become Springfield Elementary School. The original entrance of the high school is incorporated into the entrance of the elementary school. The downstairs level had been one section; it was divided. It is now the band room in use as a music instruction room. Church School remained in use as a kindergarten. Melvin G. Mack became supervising Principal of the new Palisades District. By 1950, the seventh and eighth grade sections were over crowded. The school board renovated the refreshment stand on the high school grounds for an eighth grade classroom. Later it was divided into two rooms.

    In 1955, the present cafeteria and all-purpose room were added to the old high school, along with two classrooms, office and toilet facilities. The rooms in the old building were still utilized as classrooms

    In 1958, additions were made to Palisades High School.

    In 1962, additions and renovations were made to Springfield Elementary School when a ten
    classroom addition was constructed and the second floor of the original building was removed.

    In 1963, a new area Vocational Technical High School was built.

    In 1980, an addition to Springfield Elementary School was completed which included a library
    with a reading garden, library workrooms, five classrooms, an art room, a music room, a music practice room, a health suite, a faculty room, a counselor's office, a conference room and administrative offices.
    In 2003, a total renovation of the school was completed.  Although no classroom space was added, the entire space was renovated; new floors, ceilings, windows, doors, HVAC and electric.  However, the biggest change of all was the addition of a brand new kitchen and a full-size gym. This lastest change will enable us to service our students and our community for many years to come.


    The above information was written and provided by Betty Gross Riter of the
    Springfield Township Historical Society.