History of Harwood Union High School
On September 29, 1961, after six years of careful study, the Waterbury School Building Committee submitted its report and recommendations to the Waterbury voter. The committee had made extensive surveys, scrutinized existing facilities, and in the effort to resolve the problems recognized as far back as 1955, it recommended a new elementary school building to consist of eight classrooms and a multi-purpose room. The proposed building would have been built behind the Waterbury Library, facing Winooski Street. Although much consideration was given to the new union school, and though meetings were held with representatives of Waitsfield, Warren, Fayston, Moretown, Stowe, Bolton, and Duxbury, the consensus of opinion was that the union school was not needed at this time, and the Waterbury planners formulated what they considered a completely feasible plan for solving the problems. At a special Town Meeting held on October 17, the towns-people of Waterbury were presented with a $215,000 bond issue for the new elementary school and defeated it.
The bond issue was only one of several brought before the voters of Waterbury at about that time. The proposed remedies for the educational system became progressively less expensive and were repeatedly turned down, despite the hard work and careful consideration put into each plan. An alternate high school and several plans for operate Waterbury and Waterbury Center elementary school were voted down.
Between March 1962, when yet another plan was turned down, and October 1963, the situation at Waterbury and Waterbury Center became progressively worse. As enrollment are and existing buildings were harder pressed to provide adequate facilities, the building committee recognized the drastic needs and worked on plans for improving the building already standing. In October of 1963, the committee was considering the "Plan A" which would have renovated the Waterbury High School by converting the gymnasium into classrooms and erecting a new gym and cafeteria on the hill behind the school. On December 18, the plan was approved by the School Board, and subsequently warning were sent out for a special town meeting on January 28.
This time the bond issue was mush greater than that of a new elementary school, but the need was even more immediate. The citizens passes a $625,000 bond issue by a 510 to 441 vote.
Immediately after this measure was passed, some townspeople felt that there was a need for a complete about-face. These people circulated a petition to rescind the "Plan A" vote, and brought this motion up in the match 3 town meeting, when the vote was rescinded by a 463 to 353 majority.
It was obvious that many people bad new convictions about the renovations to the high school. Some thought that with new state laws requiring all schools to be brought to certain minimum standards, "Plan A" would not fulfill the minimum and would be obsolete before it was built. Others felt that considering the new stride being made in education, renovating the old facilities would only the tying our hands against using the money to provide a more modern curriculum.
Several alternate plans were presented but all were voted down before they gained momentum. However, at this time a special committee was set up specifically to consider a union school with the neighboring towns.
On March 18 the interested citizens from Waterbury, Waitsfield, Moretown, and Duxbury formed a Curriculum Study Committee. This committee's report was essential to the well-rounded, modern curriculum employing the advantages of the new building to there utmost.
Shortly after the study committee was organized, the town voted in favor of forming Union School District #19, encompassing the towns or Waterbury, Waitsfield, Warren, and Duxbury.
In May, money was appropriated for a study and preparation plane for a new union high school district facility; and at special town meetings throughout the valley in September, the voters elected their school directors. These town meetings also approved funds for retaining an architect and employing contractors to begin work in order that the new school could be realized as soon as physically possible.
Immediately after receiving the go-ahead with the funds, the School Board interviewed architectural firms and retains Roland Whittier as architect. Mr. Whittier went ahead immediately and had preliminary plans drawn up by November when Fayston and Moretown petitioned to join the union and were admitted
In December 1964, folders with he plans for the school and budget figures were distributed. The voters were asked to approve a $1,600,000 bond issue for a new union school to be built on the Badore farm in Moretown. The vote was held on February 11, 1965. It was passed in all towns on a cumulative 6 to 1 ratio.
In March bids were opened for the preparation of the site and the contract was given to Burnett Contracting Company of South Burlington, who began work on the site in June.
Prior to the work on the site, the USD #19 School Board had voted to name the school in honor of Dr. Charles E. Harwood. The name, Harwood Union High School, was approved by the State Board of Education in June
Also in June, the bids went for a $1.6 million bond issue, and were accepted at 3.3%, which has since gone up to 4.3%. In August of 1965, bids were received for the actual general contract. Pizzagalli Construction Company of South Burlington had the lowest bid, and ground-breaking ceremonies were scheduled for October.
On Saturday, October 10, 1965, ground-breaking ceremonies were held at the Moretown site. The list of guests included those who had worked the hardest for the school and interested people from the Department of Education. The actual ground-breaking was done by Wayne Lewis, Chairman of the School Board, Dr. Rupert Spencer, Director of Special Services for the Vermont Education Department, and Mrs. Charles Harwood, widow of the man for whom the school was named. The Master of Ceremonies was Brian Harwood, son of the Doctor and director of the new Union High School District.
During the early spring of 1966, the faculty members were chosen, and their names were presented at the annual meeting at USD #19 on May 10. By mid-August, all the teachers were ready for orientation and organizational meetings.
Due to a railroad strike in Canada, the school furniture was late in arriving, and school opening was postponed from September 6 to September 12. On September 12, 1966 Harwood Union High School opened for its first school year.
Much of the furniture had arrived by September 12, but the library furniture was not to arrive until January. But the library did not go unused. It was used for band rehearsals, physical education classes, projection room, and whatever else didn't have a place to meet. Typing students typed on cafeteria tables until the typing tables arrived in October. Since the gymnasium, auditorium, and classrooms in that wing were not completed until late January, mechanical drawing met in the teachers' room, industrial arts met wherever a room was available, and music classes met in room 502. These classes finally were able to meet in their own area near the end of December even though there was still work to be done. Most of the work was completed by March 1.
On March 4, Harwood Union High School Dedication was held in the auditorium. At that time a portrait of Dr. Harwood was presented for display in the main lobby of the school.
Winter was upon us before the driveways and parking areas could be paved. Spring came, and with it, a sea of mud. It was thought at one time that a "mud vacation" might have to be considered, but the mud was of relatively short duration, and no school days were lost. Paving was undertaken in May and was finished the first part of June. Landscaping continued in the spring where it was left in the fall.
By June everything was functioning normally, just in time to close school. It was a year if hardship for everyone. But it was a rewarding year too. There isn't a teacher, student or parent in the valley who isn't proud of the facilities here at Harwood. The future will develop to an even greater extent the opportunities that are provided for the young people of the 6 communities so that all of them can better find their place in an ever changing world.
~Royal Tartan of 1967