Hunter High School students go on strike

By Dede Terns Thorpe, Town of Hunter Historian

“Union Free School at Hunter, Catskill Mountains, NY”

From the September 8, 1933 Albany Times Union:


“Protesting against the combining of the Hunter and the Tannersville High Schools, the junior and senior classes of the former school announced their intentions of staying away from classes.” The article said that Sol Meisel was one of the leaders. In 1933, Meisel was a junior at the Hunter School.


The paper said that before the strike began, the kids got together and had an automobile parade through Tannersville. It was not well-received. They heard catcalls and had decayed fruit and vegetables thrown at their automobiles. Meisel said that alone convinced the students not to cross the threshold of the Tannersville school. At least not until they felt they got what they wanted.

Frank Lackey, school board president, said he was equally firm in his standpoint.

Lackey said that the transfer of the schools was done with the state’s approval and that the board wouldn’t move an inch in the matter. If anybody yields, it will be the students, or the state department must reverse its decision. Lackey went on to say that the consolidation was done for economic reasons. He said the problem is two or three troublemakers stirring things up. Lackey believes it will all be ironed out in two or three days.


“The 20 members of the junior and senior class of the Hunter High School out on strike as a protest against the consolidation of their school were to meet tonight with members of the board of education at Hunter High.

The students have refused to attend classes this term because Hunter was merged with Tannersville High School. The situation remains deadlocked, the students declaring they will not return until word is received from the state education in Albany as to whether the consolidation is legal.”

The school board president, Frank Lackey, said the New York State Education Department sanctioned the consolidation. (September 14, 1933, Times Union).


Stamford Mirror September 14, 1933

Board Abandons Merger– SUGGESTED BY THE STATE

It said the situation that challenged the Hunter-Jewett-Lexington Central School Districts and the twenty students on strike was because they did not want to attend Tannersville. Meetings and discussions were held until last May when a special school election with 1,510 ballots was cast. Tannersville’s location won by 114 votes.

It was brought to the public’s attention last week when a local radio station announced the problem. The radio said a protest parade by the Hunter students was met with disapproval. The Hunter students said they’d rather go to Windham, nine miles away. The Village of Hunter taxpayers supported the students.

At a special board meeting, the district decided to reopen the Hunter school and temporarily cancel its plan to have the Hunter students attend Tannersville. They said this added expense would cost about $3000 a year for two extra teachers plus rental space for a temporary high school at Fred Quick’s home in Hunter. The old Hunter high school had already been converted into a grade school.

Hunter residents and students were “bitterly disappointed,” so when school re-opened this past September in Tannersville, the Hunter students were at their desks, but briefly. Some students quit school over the issue. Before long, the Hunter student body walked out. Discussions and meetings were held, with no agreement forthcoming. Finally, acting on the suggestion of Frank P. Graves, NYS Commissioner of Education, the board of education voted to permit the pupils to return to school at Hunter.

It makes one wonder how this situation would have resolved itself today.

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