When the calendar flips to September, it is officially time to get back to school. To celebrate this annual occasion, the Jericho Public Library has mounted an exhibit called “Jericho Schools Through the Years.”
The library’s extensive archive collection of school yearbooks, calendars, newspapers, literary publications, memorabilia and photographs are showcased in the local history display case on the second floor outside of the local history room. The display may be viewed during library hours until the end of October.
The library’s exhibit shows how Jericho families always focused on their children’s schooling. The Quakers were firm believers in education for both boys and girls. In the 1700s, most children were taught at home or with a nearby neighbor until a schoolhouse was built on their Meeting House property in 1785. The famous Elias Hicks taught the children himself when a certified Quaker teacher could not be found.
Almost 100 years later, the first Jericho Public School was opened on the Oyster Bay Road (Route 106). It had two rooms and two entrances, one for boys and one for girls. The students were completely integrated decades before New York State banned segregation.
The two-room school was replaced in 1906 by a four-room, two-story elementary school on Cedar Swamp Road (Route 107). In the 1930s, New York State declared the school unsafe because it was constructed entirely of wood and had no fire escapes. A new, brick school was built directly behind and opened in October 1940. Today, that brick school forms the center of a greatly expanded Jericho middle and senior high school.
The source of this information is the Jericho library publication Jericho: The History of a Long Island Hamlet, written by local history librarian Betsy Murphy. Patrons can pick up a copy at the circulation desk for a $20 donation.