NEW GLASGOW – As a student and educator at New Glasgow High School, Alvin Sinclair remembers it reverently for the people he worked with and who taught there.
Sinclair grew up in Abercrombie and spends his summers there.
While the high school was built in 1931, Sinclair remembers writing exams in 1951 while the junior high school was being built downhill from it.
The complex of junior and senior high schools and an attached annex on the Lorne Street side will be demolished and work to build a new Primary to Grade 8 school on the site will proceed toward completion in the fall of 2014.
Sinclair attended a country school in Abercrombie through Grade 8. NGHS was so overcrowded that Sinclair ended up at the former West Side School for Grade 9, but he completed Grades 10 to 12 at NGHS.
“We had some wonderful teachers” he said. “I remember them being exceptional, and so supportive. The teacher I thought of a great deal was Wilfred Burchill, but they were all great.”
Sinclair was the principal at NGHS from 1973 to 1988.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he said. “I never wanted to take a day off. I had an excellent staff. That’s where your strength is.”
Among staff he recalls warmly is Jean-Guy Fortin, who taught physics.
“If he saw a student struggling with the subject but working at the very top of his abilities, he’d always pass. If anyone capable of 90s was making 50s and 60s, he wasn’t happy with them.”
The history of education in New Glasgow can be accessed from numerous writings, including the high school newspaper, the Herald.
After a Free School Act was passed in 1864, a high school was opened in New Glasgow in 1865. It was burned to the ground in 1867 but another one known as the White School was soon built on the same site.
Latin was considered an important subject, as was Greek for students pursuing theological studies.
Cricket was the chief sport until football (rugby) was introduced in 1884.
High school students moved from the White School to the South School in 1894.
Over 20 years, the South School became overcrowded from increased enrolment. The high school students were moved to the West Side School in 1914.
The current structure became New Glasgow High School in 1931 and boasted chemistry and physics labs and an auditorium that was considered one of the finest in the province.
Until 1930, students from outside New Glasgow had to pay $50 to enter NGHS, but the provincial government of the day gave the school a grant so that the students could attend free.
Twenty-nine of the 50 Grade 12 students the first year were from outside New Glasgow.
A historic event 75 years ago, on May 12 1937, drew from schools around what was then the British Empire for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Clyde Strickland, a Grade 12 student at NGHS, represented Pictou County.