For my entire life, the starting year for Lowell High School has been 1831. Even the cup I use for my coffee has the year showing the start of the high school as being 1831. While doing research for a book I surmised that that date was incorrect. In fact, the starting date, or starting year, is 1834. Where do I come up with that date? It was in the 1834 School Committee Minutes. The starting date for the high school was 1834. Specifically, the Minutes state that it is “expedient to establish a High School according to the laws of the Commonwealth; and that we (Lowell) will establish such a school as soon as practicable.” (Spelling dictated by the Minutes). After making that incredible observation, the School Committee “Adjourned to Friday April 11th. at 2 o:clock.” Before they adjourned however, they passed a raise for the school teachers salary. (Minutes – Page 139)
The School Committee was determined to have influence over the Irish Catholic community at this time. The Reverend Barnaby was commended for running the “Irish Primary School.” “Miss Hanrah Dyar (will) be appointed teacher for the Irish School.” It is fair to say that few of the Irish immigrants sent their children to the Irish School. The problem would exist for the next twenty years as more and more Irish mothers saw their children attend Irish Catholic Schools run by nuns and priests. Their lack of completion of the children in the public school system spoke volumes to the desire of the Irish to educate their own.
In other business, in 1834, the School Committee voted that “two Primary Schools be established in Belvidere Village, with the right of such scholars to attend the Grammar and High School, once it was accredited by the State House. In other business, Messr’s. Barnaby, Merrill, and Graves chose Mr. Barnaby Chairman Pro Tem.” It was their duty to make certain that Belvidere Village got its two Primary Schools.
This was a controlled School Department. It was controlled by the School Committee. In one vote it saw a motion passed that “No book or apparatus but such as the Committee approve be used in any of the schools.” That one passed on 3/18/1834.
The Committee did not have a place to carry on its business so it met in the Selectman’s Room, much as it does today.
Chairman Theodore Edson went out to observe the North Grammar School; the Pound District; and the Merrimack Primary School. I have not found out what his reactions to his observations were as of now. I intend to find out.
I encourage others interested in the school system at this point to check my understanding of the actions of the School Committee, especially as it pertains to the establishment of the high school. It is possible that the year of 1834 was the first year for graduation, which puts the starting year in 1831. But this is the oldest book I have seen on School Committee Minutes, and it is very exact on its observation of the start of the high school. The high school, according to the minutes of the year 1834, states that the high school was not even recognized by the State government in the first part of 1834. It was a very interesting observation and I hope to be doing more reading on it in the immediate future.