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History of Afton Central High School

In every school there is a history of which we can be proud. Afton Central High School is no exception. Forefathers of this town strove to offer the finest to its children through the educational system. Changes and improvements have consistently been made over the years. Students and citizens should be aware of these facts so as to instill pride, spirit, and tradition throughout the school and community.
In 1790, the first school in the area was opened by Nathaniel Church in a log building near the intersection of the present East Main and Maple Streets.
The year 1857 marked Afton's breakaway from Bainbridge - becoming a town in its own right. By the 1870's, thanks to the construction of the D. & H. Railroad and the building of a new bridge across the river, the west side of the village definitely outstripped the east side in size, population, and business important.
Here, on the west side, developed the main school. In December 1870, an Academy (equivalent to the later high school) was opened. It was located in a small building on Spring Street with E.M. Rogers as Principal and Annie Greene as Preceptress, and was also know as District School #12.
Then, in 1874, the District School #5 on the east side (the log building existing since 1790) was merged with the district School #12 on Spring Street. It was named the "Afton Union School and Academy" and in the summer of 1875, a new building for it was erected on the site of the present central school.
This building was a two-story white frame structure with simple columns in front of it. The school stood back from Sand Street, approximately where the cafeteria is now, and often referred to as the "butterfly building" because of the wings on either side. From the beginning this Union School, though small in numbers, was outstanding in quality and achievement. It continued to operate for thirty-three years with three rooms on the ground floor occupied by two grades each, and the upstairs being used for grades seven to twelve, together with a library and a laboratory.
In addition to the Union School District, there were thirteen "common" school buildings partly or wholly in the Afton township. There were no organized athletics and a majority of children did not attend school beyond sixth grade. In the case of the Union School, however, the upper grades were maintained through an influx of older children from the outside, some of whom boarded in the village during the week and others who traveled to school everyday by railroad from as far away as Sanitaria Springs.
In 1899, the title of Afton Academy was formally changed in compliance with growing usage and State recommendation, to that of Afton (Central) High School. This was during the principalship of Charles A. Gibson. He and his wife who taught fifth and sixth grades were here from 1896 to 1902. School standards were upheld and extra-curricular activities were encouraged. The school acquired such an excellent reputation that it attracted more and more students from outlying districts. Attendance in the higher grades was double in 1902 what it had been in 1877.
This increased school attendance led in 1908 to the construction of a new and larger structure of brick and stone, costing approximately $25,000. In this new building there were four grade-rooms housing first through eighth grades on the first floor. Each had its own cloakroom opening off the main hall. The high school department was on the second floor. There was located a high school study hall which sat ninety pupils, two large classrooms seating forty pupils each, the science laboratory, the library with over 4,000 volumes and the principal's office. The third floor consisted of a large assembly hall.
The community at the time was very proud of the fact that the new building was lit throughout with electricity, had running water, and sanitary drinking fountains. All rooms were equipped with their own separate library of books, necessary maps and other supplies.
It was the aim of the Board of Education to make Afton High School stand second to no other high school in the state in regards to equipment and all other things pertaining to the welfare of the school. The standard of graduation of the Afton High School was the Regents' Academic Diplomas which required the following subjects: 4 years of English, 1 year English History, 1 year Ancient History, 1 year American history, 1 year Algebra, 1 year Geometry, 1 year Chemistry, 1 year Physics and approximately 10 electives in Languages, Music, Art, Bookkeeping, or advanced courses in the already required subject areas.
In the fall of 1920, the Department of Agriculture was added to the High School. The work consisted of thorough instruction in the principles and practices of scientific farming. Instruction covered four years and was designed particularly for boys who were contemplating returning to the farm after completing high school or who wished to attend an agricultural college.
Two rooms in the basement were added for this purpose. One room was used as a shop for woodworking, metalworking, and rope and leatherwork. The other room was equipped with tables and chairs, charts, books, bulletin boards, blackboards, and all the necessary equipment for presenting the various subjects taught.
In 1926, the faculty consisted of nine teachers. The graduating class numbered eleven and the school calendar was much the same as it is now. Afton athletics included boys' baseball, and physical education was given throughout all the grades. In the following years, the outlying local school districts were discontinued and merged into the "Central School" in the village of Afton.
To meet the pressing needs of increased enrollment, teaching staff, and financial outlay, the school building of 1908 was extended and re-equipped. A bus garage/agricultural shop was built about 1950 and was the beginning of an expansion program. In 1955, during the principalship of Lauren B. Andrews and the superintendency of Fred P. Foster, ground was broken for a newer, more modern facility.
Included in the new wing were a larger boiler room, a cafeteria, spacious gym, and rooms to house the elementary school. In 1969 a new Olympic-sized pool was added to the existing facility and by 1971, four rooms were added to the B-section to house the junior high school grades.

The 1994 project represented a new beginning to our continuing needs to repair and modernize our existing building and to add instructional space for our expanding educational program. The following are the details of the 1994 project.

1994 Addition

  • Constructed a two-story elementary wing which included instructional classrooms and a combination cafeteria/gymnasium

1994 Renovations

  • Renovated elementary section of existing building to accommodate middle and high school classes
  • Relocated Home Economics classrooms and District Offices to main building
  • Installed one elevator for handicapped access to all floors
  • Replaced roofs on gymnasium, auditorium and 1967 wing
  • Removed asbestos
  • Installed sprinkler system in 1908 and 1929 sections
  • Upgraded fire safety and alarm systems
  • Upgraded pool equipment and lighting, as well as gymnasium lighting
  • Replaced floors and ceilings as required
  • Upgraded heating system controls

Site Improvements

  • Improved bus loading/unloading loop
  • Expanded parking area
  • Improved fire equipment access
  • Improved exterior lighting
  • Replaced fuel storage tanks
  • Replaced septic system

Project 2000

"Academics" was the focus

Throughout the initial stages of this project, the committee maintained a focus on the goal of improving the academic environment of Afton Central School. This was accomplished by adding more classrooms, new library and technology spaces and expanding existing instructional areas.

2000 Project Highlights:

New Construction Renovations

  • Nine Classrooms
  • Handicap Accessibility, two elevators
  • Gymnasium
  • Auditorium
  • Band Room
  • Existing Gymnasium
  • Choral Room
  • Cafeteria
  • Library; HS/MS
  • Kitchen
  • Computer Workstations
  • Pool Locker Rooms
  • Technology Room
  • Athletic Fields
  • Locker Rooms
  • Bus Garage
  • Main Entrance
  • Fuel Tank Removal

Today, Afton is one of the smallest schools in the Midstate Athletic Conference but the athletic programs offered are varied. In the fall, golf, cross-country, field hockey, soccer, and girls' swimming are offered. The winter sports season brings boys' swimming, girls' and boys' basketball, bowling, wrestling, and volleyball. Finally, the spring sports season winds up with indoor track and field, softball, and baseball.
Different types of clubs are now offered to further educate the students or enable them to be of service to others such as FFA, Spanish, and French Clubs, Yearbook Staff, and S.A.D.D. - Students Against Destructive Decisions, Mock Trial, and Odyssey of the Mind. We also have a middle school and high school student government. High academic achievement is recognized through membership in the Junior and Senior Honor Society. Musical opportunities provided for the students include band and chorus. Students may also participate in Jazz Band, Accent, All County Vocal and Instrumental, and NYSSMA Vocal and Instrumental.
For a small central school, Afton High School is able to offer many and varied opportunities for those students wishing to take advantage of them. Changes and improvements have been made throughout the years in an attempt to maintain the high standards that the founding fathers believed in. With help and cooperation between the faculty, administration, student body, and community, Afton Central School should continue to build, grow, and achieve.