Pocantico Hills Schools

Cornerstone Celebration
1931 - 1996
by Judy Chamberlain

In 1931 workers laid the cornerstone for the Pocantico Hills Central School. Since then, hundreds of young children have entered to learn. As they moved on to high school, college and careers, their space was taken by a younger face. For 65 years this school has educated generations, been the center of our community and served us well...perfect reasons to celebrate.

Pocantico Hills Schools

Records of early settlers tell of an Algonquin village called Aliponeck, meaning "the place of many elms", located near the mouth of the Pocantico River. Pocantico came from the Indian word "Po-can-tee-co," which means "a swift dark stream running between two hills."

The Pocantico Hill School

Colors:
Flower:
Yearbook:
Symbol:
Blue and white
Red Rose
Warrior

Principals

Mr. Ray B. Walker was the District Principal who served from 1919 until 1949. His successors were:

Harold L. Akley 
Dr Richard L. Montesi 
Robert Ryan 
Roger Wutzel  
Dr Robert Morrison     1987 - 1994
Peter Lisi    1994 - 2004
Dr. Thomas Elliott     2004 - 2008
Dr. Freddie Smith     2008 -

Board of Education 1996

Stuart Rosenthal
Florence Cohen
Gail Brown
Margaret Mascia
George Morrow

Building our School

September 21, 1931-Deed

Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr, gave the Board of Education of Central School District #2 of the Towns of Mount Pleasant and Greenburgh by deed dated September 21, 1931, the current school site comprising 1.594 acres and the playground area of 4.383 acres. By deed, dated July 8, 1953, an additional plot consisting of .09935 acres was deeded on which an addition to the school was built. In April 1969, the Board of Education accepted 15.11 acres from the Rockefeller family for another building expansion.

September 21, 1932 - Dedication

Though the official first day of school was on September 7, 1932, a special Dedication Exercise was held on September 21, 1932. Dyson F. DeLap, President of the Board of Education, presided over the ceremonies. George Wiley, Assistant Commissioner of Secondary Education in New York, was the principal speaker. Guest speakers included Nelson A. Rockefeller, who spoke on behalf of his father John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Charles H. Cheney, District Superintendent of Schools and Carl W. Clark, architect of the building. Hailed as among the most modern in the state, the new Pocantico Hills Central School serviced the children of Pocantico Hills (District 3), East View (District 10) and Sleepy Hollow (District 2). The Principal was Ray B. Walker. The Truant Officer was John Holterman, the Nurse was Kathryn Kenney, and Margaret Johnson ran the lunchroom. The new school employed ten teachers.

Besides giving the school ground and grading the playground, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. pledged half the cost of the new building, not to exceed $100,000. He actually paid an additional $1,716.31 to cover the cost of changes (in stone) made at his suggestion. The District and State were responsible for the remainder. The total cost of the school was $206,267.09.

Building Additions

The school was expanded in 1954 with a new wing that provided more classroom space. (current library and elementary class-rooms) In April 1971, a Bond issue of $3.78 million passed for an addition to the building and extensive alterations to the existing structure. Construction began in 1972 and in 1974 the Ray B. Walker Addition was dedicated (current Middle School area, gym and locker rooms, and recreation area).

Student Enrollment

September 1932 enrollment was 148 pupils
September 1952 enrollment was 244 pupils
September 1996 enrollment is 353 pupils

Teachers

The new Pocantico Hills School had 10 teachers in 1932. In 1996 there are 38 teachers and 20 administration and staff members.

In 1931

President of the United States: Herbert Clark Hoover
Governor of New York: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In addition to his own generous gifts to the school, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was responsible for encouraging others to contribute art, objects, and furniture. The large moose head that once hung over the fireplace in the original library was donated by Arthur Choate. A splendid bookcase that once belonged to the Ferguson family was donated to the school in 1945. The large antique globe now in the office area was given to the school by Mr. and Mrs. Milton. Though many objects have disappeared, a pair of carved wooded chairs still grace the main office.

Art

Every year, a painting done by an 8th grade student was selected as outstanding and kept by the school...sad to report...we couldn't find any. Today, our 8th grade students still create a painting and after a wonderful art show, the paintings go home with the artists. We did discover a photograph of an original mural that covered our walls. It was a scene out of Rip Van Winkle. Since 1987, the Pocantico Hills Bicentennial Quilt has been displayed near the main office. The loving handiwork of about two dozen community women, the 30 individual squares depict the landmarks and the history of our unique American hamlet.

 Schools that came before...

Before 1880, a one-room, unpainted, lopsided 25' by 25' building stood on almost the same spot as the Pocantico Hills Central School now stands. Known as the Squash Hill School, it had one teacher and very few pupils. The amount of money raised annually by taxation for the support of the school didn't exceed $350.

In 1880, voters approved the building of a new larger schoolhouse. They selected a site on Bedford Road owned by Harriet F. Wheeler who conveyed the property to the District for $1 and purchased the old site for $50. A one story one classroom building was build for $1400. Known as the Wheeler Hill School, at first it had one teacher, but when that proved inadequate, an assistant was added. Their combined salaries were $700 annually. (It was north of the present school and was torn down for the 1972 construction.)

As the community expanded, this school did not meet the needs of the people. At a special meeting held in January 1892, Mr. Rufus W. Weeks, a Trustee, made the motion to establish a union free school and it was adopted by a vote of 59 yes, 3 no, and 2 blanks. In 1893 the Lyceum Building (where the firehouse now stands) was rented to accommodate the primary grade children. A resolution to build an addition to the old school was defeated but a motion to issue $6,500 in bonds to erect a new school house carried.

On November 19, 1895 John D. Rockefeller, Sr. deeded almost an acre of land behind the present Union Church, near the rock-cut, to the district for the school. The old building and lot was sold to George Ferguson for $715. (Later Mr. Ferguson re-sold the property to Mr. Rockefeller) The new Pocantico Hills School had four rooms on the main floor and a basement that held the furnace, toilets, and rooms to teach domestic science and manual training, one of the first schools in the State to do so.

It was built of local stone and trimmed with brick. There were four teachers when it opened in 1897. In 1898, this school was given status as a Union Free School District by the Board of Regents of the State of New York.

Interest in combining the Pocantico Hills, Sleepy Hollow and East View schools, to provide more educational opportunities for the children, surfaced within the community in 1917. East View had a two-room schoolhouse and enrolled 33 children in the first eight grades. In 1930, the residents of these three districts met at the Lyceum and voted to form a Central School. Regular session continued in the three schools until the end of June 1932. On September 7th, buses brought the children to their new school, The Pocantico Hills Central School.

GENIUS IS ETERNAL PATIENCE

MUSIC IS THE MESSAGE OF THE SOUL

THE LAMP OF EXPERIENCE

HASTE NOT, REST NOT

Created in the Fall of 1996 by the Pocantico Hills School Foundation

The Pocantico Hills School Foundation is a non-profit organization that provided financial support for educational programs, projects, and opportunities that benefit the students of our school district. Incorporated in 1995, the Foundation operated independently from, but in close cooperation with, the Board of Education.

Cornerstone Celebration
Co-Chairs
Barbara Lewis & Judy Chamberlain

Committee
John Borghese
Gail Brown
Sharon Cincotta
Florence Cohen
Christina Da Costa
Karen Fanelli
Kathy Foley
Margaret Fox
Karen Giordano
Linda Hornby
Toni Kakos
Teri Levine
Lucille Losapio
John Mantz
Tina Reno
Sharon Rubeo
Nancy Shaul
Kathy Thompson
Ruth Weyland
Barbara Zand

Pocantico Hills School Foundation Board Members

Judith A. Chamberlain, Chairman
Audrey Bender, Vice-Chairman
Gail Brown, Secretary
Linda Hornby, Treasurer

Florence Cohen
Gloria Colucci
Kathleen Foley
Karen Giordano
John Hayes
Barbara Lewis
Peter Lisi
Nancy Shaul
Kathryn Thompson

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