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School Memories of Nunda, Dalton& Portage

This view of a Nunda classroom comes from the 1968 yearbook. Do you remember blackboards and chalk? You will find more memories below!

The Nunda Historical Society published a two part series of calendars on Education in Nunda & Portage for 2019 and 2020. The following pages are supplemental information that we could not fit into the first two calendars. The are not in any chronological or subject order. You can either scroll through the pages or use the table of contents below. The Society thanks all those who contributed to this information. If you would like to contribute memories or photographs, please contact us!

Both calendars are available from the Society. You can order them using this link.


Table of Contents

Please visit often for more memories!

My Fond Memories of Dalton Central School by Joan Barney

Gabette- 1950 History & Staff Picture, 1951 Issue

A memory from the class of 69 at Keshequa Central School by Virginia Roby NiCastle

Photograph and Short History of Nunda's Future Farmer's of America, 1950

Some Moving Up Day Memories







My Fond Memories of Dalton Central School

by Joan Barney


I entered Kindergarten in the year of 1950. Our teacher was Mrs. Chasey. The room had bay windows and a fireplace. Avery inviting environment! The fireplace and bay windows still exist, but the room has been changed. We had a coat & boat room with separate boy & girl bathrooms. We had cots furnished for our afternoon naps. Had to bring our own blankets from home.

Next was our 1st grade and our teacher was Miss Newman. The office and principal's office was in the same location as it is now. The nurse's office was across the hall also as it is now. Next came the kitchen and cafeteria. Then was our 3rd grade class with Mrs. Motts. The gymnasium and stage remain across the hall, which was used as a gym and for our assemblies. Off the gym and I believe now is the teacher's lounge was our locker rooms and showers. Coach Don Thompson really put us through the paces with gymnastics such as climbing ropes to the ceiling, flips off mats, swinging monkey rings, coordinated marching, square dancing, archery, badminton etc. Great physical education. The only competition we had with other schools, mainly Nunda Central was BOY'S basketball, soccer & baseball. Only girls sport was trying out for cheerleading, no other sport's competition.

From 3rd grade we graduated to the 2nd Floor. How old & grown up we felt to be upstairs with our own lockers. 4th, 5th (Mrs Holmes), 6th (MRs. H Ludwig) grades were on the 2nd floor. Then we entered Junior High and again so proud to switch from one room to another for different classes. Since language wasn't offered at Dalton, we were bused to Nunda for our Latin Class.

At this point in time I believe space was becoming a problem, so our homeroom and English class was moved into the beautiful library. Believe it or not our Art Class was held down in the basement next to the Boilers, which I am sure was against every code that existed. We also had Homemaking and WoodShop and at times the girls & boys would switch classes to get a taste of all. 9th grade was considered our senior year in which we had a graduation with gowns, class motto (ours was, "where there is Life, there is Hope) and a class trip to Crystal Beach! Our senior prank was that each one of us had to climb up the ladder to the clock tower, which was adjacent to the library. It just so happened that the clock struck when I was up in the tower and scared me half to death! Non of us ever, to my knowledge, got caught doing this stunt!!! I had the honor of being the class of 1960 class president!

The dress code was dresses only for the girls, but on Fridays you could wear slacks, NOT JEANS! Also as discipline, I witnessed, in front of our whole class, our Principal whack 2 times, with a large wood paddle, two boys who had purposely left clack marks on the floor in our home room. Needless to say we were very obedient! If we did something wrong in school, we would get it twice as bad at home!!!

Then came our big move to Nunda Central, amongst our greatest rivals!!! You could feel the friction as we walked in for the firs time!!!! But it didn't last very long, and all of us became very good and lasting friends for the 3 remaining years of High School!

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The Gabette -"Nunda's Biggest School Newspaper"

In our 2020 calendar we mentioned this short lived but interesting school newspaper in an article about its "big brother", the GAB. The paper is rather rare - the Society only has two issues in our collection.

The material below as well as the Gabette Staff photograph found below are from the 1950 Nunda Yearbook.



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A memory from the class of 69 at Keshequa Central School

submitted by Virginia Roby NiCastle

To be honest this event occurred after graduating from the very first class to receive a diploma with Keshequa written on it, the class of 1969. But lets start with a little background information.

The only town I ever knew was Nunda so the only school I had ever attended was Nunda. where I was considered an average student as far as academics measured students then. Before the school merger with Dalton, Nunda Central taught K-12. Like all students I had my strong areas of learning such as math and science. English was a mixed bag as I had undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Many learning issues were not commonly recognized nor actively addressed in the sixties. Dyslexia created a hug reading and spelling challenge for me. Spelling tests were like a mammoth wall I couldn't climb over or see around. I loved words in stories and songs but that weekly spelling word list followed by the dreaded test were impossible for me to conquer. My challenge began at first grade and continues to this day. While I loved words they didn't always to love me.

By the time I began the high school regents track for graduation, writing compositions and stories, even research papers excited me. I loved assignments where I could fill the blank lined pages with ideas and information. The teacher would occasionally read my paper aloud to the class. The content was there if the teacher could decipher my misspelled words. I hated all the red marks, sometimes so boldly written I knew the teacher was frustrated. It did no good to tell me to look up, in the dictionary, all the words I was unsure of. I was as sure, as sure as I could be, they were correctly spelled.

While my high school teachers had some flexibility with grading my papers, the required English regents exam had strict rules. I wouldn't be able to receive a regents diploma without passing that dreaded State test. This was a time when there were no spell checkers or computers to even let me know if I had spelled a word wrong. Keshequa school had purchased its' first computer but that was not for student use. I believe six misspelled words on the English regents resulted in an automatic failure.

Two of my newest friends - Dalton school graduates who joined Nunda students for high school - spent hours with me every week. We were allowed to use an empty class room where they taught me spelling rules along with the frequent words that didn't follow the rules. That felt like a trillion. They drilled me with flash cards. They encouraged me and kept my spirits up. Their sacrifice and support was incredible but the end goal fell short.

The English Regents test day was like walking to a precipice so dark there was no seeing just how deep it was. I am a person of too many words with too many misspellings. The test had a multiple choice section for students to identify the misspelled words. So many traps for me to fall into. If that section didn't cause me to fail there was the required written composition. True to my love of writing I exceeded the minimal required length as the writing flowed and the spelling flawed. When the test scores were posted I wasn'tsurprised that I had failed.

Thankfully the powers to be at school allowed me to continue with the regents classes despite my never qualifying for a regents diploma. Most of my friends from grade school were in those classes. So I did receive a regents level education and that was how they did inclusion in the 1960's for me.

After the historical graduation of Keshequa's first class to receive diplomas with the new school name, I went on to nurses training. I liked the small school near to home in Batavia except it was run by nuns. I know, what a culture shock that was. I had to wear a uniform that went below my knees. This was 1969 when we all wore mini skirts. They had a lot of rules that seemed rather silly to me - to all of the students at the school. The late sixties generation tended to push against authority and establishment expectations. We were no exception as we rebelled inwardly while complying outwardly for the strict nuns who were very authoritative in our eyes. We had this one nun who taught nutrition classes. She must have been 110 years old. Dressed in a white habit (a nursing color) she sent me to the blackboard. I was to write a balanced diet for a diabetic patient. A person who can't spell in first grade may develop some compensation skills along the way but this kid still couldn't spell. So there I was, just a few weeks into Nursing school, at the front of the class, with a white habit nun standing, no, hovering over me. Well I finally did it. It was inevitable. I misspelled a word, a simple word - they are usually the hardest for me. So this nun moved in close peering over her glasses. Sternly articulating my name, my full name, like my mother might when I had done something wrong, she asked where I had gone to school. Maybe she would think I came from some far off country or that English was my second language. I quietly responded, "Keshequa Central School, sister".

This 110 year old nun in the starched, white habit peered more intently over the rim of her glasses at me. My, how wrinkled she was, with baggy red rimmed eyes. I could see that now that she was inches from my face. She moved in closer and asked me to repeat my answer. I obediently replied in my little voice, "Keshequa, sister". Her eyes widened and her brows furrowed so I looked down at my white polished nursing shoes. Oh, if she would just let me go to my seat or, better yet, let me leave the room altogether. At least she was being somewhat discrete about the whole situation. Then came yet another question for me, totally having nothing to do with nutrition. "Where is this school you went to" (this nun was from Buffalo and I do believe she didn't know about Livingston county and its many charming communities). Maybe she did think I was from some far off country. One can hope. Submissively I answered, "Nunda, sister". Now her face was hard to read. Most of her students were from Buffalo and surrounding communities. If she had ever taught a young Nundaian before I'm sure that person knew how to spell and did not have to face her inquiries. I could tell she had never heard of Nunda either. She gave up and dismissed me from the board. I was worried with a troubled fearing I would be the third student asked to leave the school (two other students had already been expelled for not meeting their high standards).

I would have seen the humor in this predicament but when it happens to you, when it is happening to you, the feeling is more like dread. Sister didn't throw me out but I was informed at my first semester evaluation that I had been placed on the "watched" list. I was allowed to continue as my stronger abilities were recognized and eventually appreciated. They even requested I mentor another student who was having trouble organizing and writing a care plan. I made it to the graduation ceremony. The nuns had the Buffalo Bishop present our diplomas. When my name was announced I came before the Bishop. In front of my family and my peers he spoke to me personally (no one else had been so addressed by the Bishop) Could it all go wrong after all. He asked me about Nunda and then he gave me a special blessing. What an honor. Maybe they thought I needed it.

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Future Farmers of America, 1950

The 1950 O-Nonda-o includes a short history with each of the club and team photographs in the yearbook. Here is an example using of the school's important organizations.

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Some Moving Up Day Memories

Here are some memories that alumni have shared with us about the Moving Up Day tradition at Nunda. You will find a history and some photographs of the event in our 2020 Historical Calendar. If you have some memories or photos of Moving Up Day to share, please send them in!

Julie Piraino

Moving Up Day was a special end-of-the-school-year program orchestrated/choreographed by Joseph Barone during our years in junior and senior high (1960s).  During practice, Mr. B called out instructions as he walked around swinging a cane.  My classmates and I all think of it fondly but don’t agree at all on the details of the day!  We only concur in remembering it as an event filled with good feelings about accomplishing another level of schooling and an anticipation of the next year.  

The classes wore certain colors of clothing and proper colored shirts/blouses were provided for anyone who didn’t have and couldn’t afford the required colors (7th grade - black and white, 8th grade yellow, 9th grade - green, 10th grade - red, 11th grade - blue, seniors - caps and gowns).  There was a special song played by students and/or music teachers on two pianos. The song was sung as the classes walked “in and out the rows” of chairs to signify their moving up to a higher grade.  Each grade was cued by a chord on the pianos to stand and sing their part of the song.  Awards for classes 7-11 and awards from clubs, etc. were given out that day, as opposed to graduation day which was just for the seniors.  It was magical to be a part Moving Up Day and it was especially moving for the seniors who ascended steps to end up on the stage as the climax of the movement of the classes.

Doris Huffman

Moving-Up Day - I remember that the colors were as follows: Seniors - Black gowns and caps for men and white gowns and caps for women, Juniors wore blue, Sophomores wore red, Freshmen wore green, eight grade wore yellow, and seventh grade wore black and white. We rehearsed at least 2 to 3 times - as a class and then with the upper classes. Piano music was played by over the years was played Vaughn Estep, Mrs. Strong (music teacher), maybe Sandy Bonnadonna and I. Ceremony had an awards section. Always in the morning hours - like 9 AM followed by a dismissal to go home.
Moving in and out the rows
Every class now slowly goes, etc.

I do remember that we were in the old gymnasium/auditorium now the auditorium. Chairs were set up on the stage for the seniors to move up to from the gym floor. Colored ribbons on the end chairs of each row marked where the classes started out from. There were about 15 -18 chairs in each row. As the seniors weaved out of their rows the juniors began weaving into the senior rows and so on. We must have sang the same song about 4 to  5 times as we weaved until all classes had advanced to the next grade level sections.

Parents were allowed to sit in the back and the sides of the gym to watch the ceremony. Mrs. Estep, Mrs. Strong, and Mrs. Bonnadonna (I believe) played the piano until I was a sophomore and then I played it for a couple of years.

At the special Moving UP Day ceremony perfect attendance awards and class awards were presented. Seniors were some recognition but their scholarship awards were presented at the graduation ceremony- if I remember correctly.




Come back again for more school memories!

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