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Lake Ronkonkoma School Was First Built in 1880

Footnotes to Long Island History

Lake Ronkonkoma School

Was First Built in 1800

by

Thomas R. Bayles


 

            When Brookhaven Town was divided into school districts in 1813, Lake Ronkonkoma was defined as follows:  “No. 8 is to embrace the Inhabitants of the western part of Western Middle Island about Rocconcama Pond to Smithtown line.”  In 1846 the district lines were changed to include Smithtown and Islip from Nicoll Road to Oxhead Road, southerly to Fire Road, 20 rods south of LIRR, thence easterly to Islip and Brookhaven Town line.  The boundaries were changed several times until finally in 1875 the district was defined as No. 5.

            The early history of this district is somewhat confusing, but up until about 1800, most of the efforts toward educating the young people were in private schools located at various places some distance from the present district.

            The first public schoolhouse was built in 1800 on the site of the Methodist church.  This was a frame building of hewn timber covered with shingles, and hand made nails were used in its construction.  Some of the first teachers were Lewis Gould, Orlando Lee, Mrs. Samantha Smith, Mre. Willis Hallock, Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Raynor and the Rev. Daniel Hallock.

            The pay in those days was very small, and $10 was the common salary for a quarter of the school year, which also included board, as the custom “of boarding round” was the usual thing, which meant that the teacher boarded in each family a certain number of weeks, according to the number of pupils in the family and the number of weeks each attended school.  As the larger families usually had the least accommodations the teacher boarded most of his time where the conditions were least attractive.

            In 1859 this building and site were sold to Nathaniel Newton, and the building was moved to the premises of Charles Newton on Hawkins Avenue.  A new site was purchased across the street from the old one, and a one room building erected, which served until 1900, when another room was added.

            The school room was heated by an old box stove which roasted the children on one side and froze them on the other with the cold air coming in through the sides of the building.

            In 1877 a regular course of study was laid out, and philosophy was one of the subjects.  Music was taught by a special teacher certain days of each week.

            In 1910 a demand arose for a school nearer the railroad station and a compromise was reached in 1912, and land was purchased for a school site from Frank L. Newton on which a two story building was built on Hawkins Avenue, overlooking beautiful Lake Ronkonkoma or “White Sands.”  The old school building and site were sold to the Lake Grove Athletic Association.

            In 1925 and again in 1928 the school grounds were enlarged by the purchase of one and a half acres of ground on the north.  In the southwest corner of the school plot a pretty little park was laid out around a memorial stone and tablet of the local soldiers in World War 1.

 

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