By Ron Struminski, Retiree and Former AHS Administrator
In the summer of 1964, I visited Attleboro for the purpose of interviewing for a high school teaching position with then Superintendent Sam Thomas. I encountered a man who exhibited great pride in a new, state of the art high school facility. I was eager to see it since I had taught in several substandard buildings in Boston that lacked a healthy environment for students and teachers. Often school was canceled due to lack of heat, roof leaks, or other situations that interfered with the continuity of instruction.
I toured the school with then Principal Joseph Joyce, and I could not believe that it was two years old. The school housed over 1100 students and also offered vocational training in five programs. It appeared spotless and well-cared-for by custodians, students and teachers. It was an environment I wanted to share.
I later learned that the building cost the citizens of Attleboro $3.75 million dollars, and I was impressed by the fact that the citizens supported that level of investment in their flagship school. They were obviously concerned with the futures of all of their students.
By the late 1960’s I had become the assistant principal and Robert Coelho was appointed superintendent. Together with the school committee and the community, Mr. Coelho developed a new vision for the Attleboro schools that continues today. Our student population had grown, teaching techniques had been enhanced, and the growing divide between blue collar and white collared society had hardened. Mr. Coelho, himself a graduate of a vocational school, clearly saw the need to bring academic and vocational students together.
The city embarked on a plan to build an addition to the high school, add the ninth grade, create grades 5-8 middle schools and expand the vocational offerings at AHS from five shops to 12. Once again the citizens of Attleboro said YES.
The result was a new, (then) state of the art high school capable of accommodating over 2,000 students. Educators from all over New England and five foreign countries came to see what a truly comprehensive high school looked like. They left with new and exciting ideas for their own schools.
That school at 100 Rathbun Willard Drive opened in September of 1973. Thousands of people came to see what the future held for their students. They left with a good feeling, knowing that their tax dollars would once again bolster the dreams of their children. Blue Pride was born.
Decades have passed and once again the people of the city are being asked to renew that dream.
It is long overdue. The current state of AHS sadly reminds me of the Boston schools I taught in over 50 years ago. We need a new high school. Together, as did our ancestors, we must not let down future generations of Attleboro students. Please vote “Yes” on April 3rd.