Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 20, 2009, pg. 8
A very Merry Christmas to all my readers of this column. This has been a very busy year for yours truly. I thank you for your support of supplying me with information, and donating photographs plus historical documents to me which helps greatly in the continuation of this column. If you need to obtain a "last minute" gift for Christmas, my latest book "Albion in Review" is still available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. It is also available at my house, 900 S. Eaton St. Please use the Mechanic St. back door entrance and call first at (517) 629-5402. An index to the book is available for free download on the www.Albionmich.com website.
They did it. On Tuesday, December 8, 2009, the Albion Board of Education voted to close the Washington Gardner Middle School as quickly as possible. We knew this action was coming. Although the structure could easily hold the Junior and Senior high school grades as it once did, times have changed in numerous ways for the Albion district. We are no longer burgeoning with students. The facility is landlocked and outmoded for today's educational and financial needs. It's too bad, because a lot of public funds went into remodeling and updating that facility in the not-too-distant past. The atrium area especially, with the school bell, reminds visitors of the once vibrant past for this building.
More specifically, in 1996, Albion voters approved a bond issue which resulted in the extensive remodeling of Washington Gardner Middle School. The pool was converted into a multipurpose room. A handicap-accessible ramp was added, an elevator was added, new windows were installed, new offices and storage space was added, two enclosed fire escapes were constructed, and many other improvements made. To wrap things up from last week's article: After a series of delays and legal challenges the new Albion High School on Watson St. was constructed in the mid-1960s. The new High School opened for classes on January 9, 1967. The class of 1967 was the first to graduate in the new high school. The Washington Gardner High School facility then became a Junior High School consisting of grades 7 through 9. In 1971 the 9th grade moved to the new High School. Soon afterwards the 6th grade was added at Washington Gardner, and the designation was changed to a Middle School. In later years various combinations of grades have been taught here, including the popular Albion Open School program.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph (circa 1955) of how many persons will probably remember this building: as Washington Gardner High School, rather than an elementary or middle school. This concludes our mini-series as we mark the end of an era in Albion with the closing of the Washington Gardner facility. How many of our readers went to Washington Gardner High School when they were growing up in Albion?
Washington Gardner High School, circa 1955
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