| Samuel de Champlain School (Middle)
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22 School Street, Dorchester
Joseph J. Driscoll, Architect
Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) was a French explorer and navigator who founded the city of Quebec and also discovered Lake Champlain. During his explorations along the coast of New England, he was the first European to visit the site of Boston. The French Government later made him Governor of Canada.
What's In a Name? Names of Boston's Schools: Their Origin. Boston: School Volunteers for Boston and the Boston Public Schools, 1980.
From: Jennifer Mitten
I attended the Champlain in the 1960's - from kindergarten through 5th grade. It was across the street from the Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High (known as "the Ollie"). I remember a few teachers, Miss McCarthy for kindergarten, Miss Tacker for 1st grade, Mrs. Schindler for 3rd, Miss Garlick for 4th, Miss Bennett for 5th.
From: Charles Cumming
I attended the Champlain School in the late 1950's along with one of my brothers and one of my sisters. At that time the school was a "grammar school" enrolling children in grades 4-6. The feeder "elementary school" was the Florence Nightingale School on Park Street, about 2 blocks away. The Champlain, Nightingale, Lucy Stone and John Marshall schools comprised the John Marshall School District. At the time we were in school, the Lucy Stone was used by the City as a "Special" school for handicapped and learning disabled children, although I believe that it was originally built as a regular elementary school (possibly a replacement for the Nightingale, which was an old building in the 1950's).
Some of the teachers at that time included Mrs. Ellis (Vice Principal), Miss Tacker (my 1st grade teacher at the Nightingale School in 1953), Miss Lane (4th Grade), Miss Galvin (5th grade), and Mrs. Holidinski (5th Grade). I can visualize some of the other teachers, but their names escape me.
There was no lunchroom in the school and the classrooms reeked of balogna sandwiches that were kept in the coat closets at the back of the rooms until lunchtime. We all ate at our desks. Milk was delivered daily to the basement, from which it was distributed to each class at lunchtime by "milk monitors." When we were in elementary school, the milk was delivered in glass bottles, but by the time we got to the Champlain School, it was delivered in waxed paper cartons.
There was no gymnasium, but we got two 15 minute recesses each day at which time we all went outdoors to play games and run around. In bad weather during the winter, or on rainy days, the boys suffered through dancing classes with the girls in the basement.
In the 6th grade, all the boys walked once a week to the Lucy Stone School for "Manual Arts", a basic woodshop class. The girls all took sewing, for which the Champlain School had a dedicated classroom. We also occasionally were visited by teaching specialists from the School Department for enrichment classes (art, reading, etc.).
Once a week, the classes spent an afternoon in local churches and synagogues for religious education. The majority of the kids were Catholic and we walked to St. Leo's Church, off Harvard Street. The protestant kids went to the Second Church in Codman Square. I don't recall if the Jewish kids went to a nearby temple or not (in any event, they all went to Hebrew School after public school every day). There were a few kids who stayed at school on the days everyone else had religious ed., and we were all jealous because they got to do art, read, or just mess around.
When school ended, 6th grade boys appointed by the Vice Principal stood on key corners as a kind of crossing guard for the lower classes. We wore a white belt, kind of like a Sam Brown belt, to identify us as "Safety Monitors." We couldn't stop cars, but it was our job to stop the other kids from walking out into the street when cars were coming.
I haven't been back to Dorchester in years and I was quite sad to see that both the Champlain and Nightingale schools are demolished.
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Created: March 7, 2004 Modified: January 5, 2010