Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, August 22, 2004, pg. 21

It’s that time of year again when school children start a new school year. Of course school used to begin after Labor Day. Now it begins the week before Labor Day, making our students “much smarter” in this “Smart Community” for that extra week of learning and what it brings. Have you read the wonderful new colorful booklet just published about all the positive things about our Albion Public Schools? It’s good to see a pro-active offensive approach being taken, and we hope you’ll take the time to read it. Pass it on to someone in a neighboring school district.

Our Washington Gardner School facility has a long history going back into the 19th century when it was the site of the Central School, containing all grade levels. In fact, the back portion behind the auditorium dates back to those early days. The rest of WG was constructed in various sections, with the central tower area being completed in 1928 and named Washington Gardner High School. Many older Albion residents remember the WGHS and their days there under the direction of principal William Harton.

Back in October, 1935, there was a 30-minute 16 mm. black & white silent film made of some of the classes of the Albion Public School showing students in their everyday activities. We featured a scene from Austin School in the January 12, 2003 edition of this column. The filmer went to the elementary schools: Austin, Dalrymple, Washington Gardner Grade School, and West Ward; as well as to Washington Gardner High School.

Yours truly has had this film transferred to DVD format and prints made of individual frames. I’ve taken the print-out it to numerous persons who have helped me identify a good portion of the students in this very historic silent film. The classes of the 1930s and 1940s have now thinned considerably; their years as students are now memories of years gone by. This film however is a lasting reminder of growing up in Albion during the Great Depression, in the years before World War II.

This week from our Historical Notebook we are picturing teacher Iva Fleming’s social studies class of October, 1935. All students here graduated from WGHS in 1939. The girl in the front center is Anne Veramay-Thompson, who passed away earlier this year. To the right in the wavy dress is Barbara Smith-Sirrine, who now lives in Grand Rapids. To the far right partially in the photo and looking left is Virginia Vitale. The girl on the far left with her elbow on the table is Rita Smith. Behind her to the right with his hand on his mouth is Lynn Arthur Smith. To the right facing forward in the back is Stanley Zielinski.

Teacher Iva Fleming’s Social Studies Class of October, 1935


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