Wantagh School Collection

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Wantagh School Collection
Sunrise Park School - Image Source

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The need for a schoolhouse for the children of Jerusalem farming village was begun in 1876. Land was acquired from John Birdsall Garner’s farm for a one room schoolhouse off North Jerusalem Ave. in what is now South Levittown. The school had an additional two rooms added across the front of the original building facing Wantagh Ave. Today this schoolhouse is a Town of Hempstead landmarked building and is used as a Pre-K facility.

In 1904 a second school building was erected at 1865 Beech St. (originally Seymour Ave.), for teaching Elementary grade students in the recently renamed village of Wantagh, 4 miles South of the old Jerusalem schoolhouse. In 1909 that school was replaced by a larger structure and used as an elementary school until 1958. It continued to be used as a school district administration office until 1982. Today it is leased to the Wee Friends Nursery school and Day Camp for Pre-K children.

In 1928, voters approved $ 230,000.00 in bonds to be used for a site at Walters Ave. and Cypress St., to build an eight-classroom building, later called the Sunrise Park school. After many years of use, this building was torn down and replaced with houses in 1989, due to a shrinking student population.

After World War II a housing boom took hold in Wantagh and other surrounding communities. In Wantagh from 1949 to 1950 the student population went from 860 students to 1334 students, using a split session schedule due to overcrowding. In 1950 a new 14 classroom elementary school was built on farmland acquired from the Boos' family. The new Wantagh school on Beech St., was used for kindergarten classes and grades 2-5. First graders remained at the Seymour school. Grades 6-8 went to classes at the Sunrise Park School. Even with a new school the student population was growing too large for the buildings.

In 1952 Wantagh citizens approved adding 21 rooms to the Wantagh school and 12 rooms to the Sunrise Park school. The citizens also approved buying land on Beltagh Ave. near the Wantagh Parkway for a High School and 3 million dollars for its construction. The High School was completed in 1955 and the student grades were rearranged on a temporary basis. That year citizens approved the purchase of two parcels of land that would become the sites of Mandalay and Forest Lake elementary schools during the end of the decade. By 1965 a junior high school had been completed next to the High School and all the elementary grade children now went to Mandalay, Forest lake, Wantagh and Sunrise Park schools.

The school system of Wantagh has provided academic, athletic and cultural arts programs of an excellent reputation to it’s students for the past seven decades. The district’s curriculum has enabled a high percentage of Wantagh’s students to pursue college educations in specialized fields of study to our societies benefit as well as their individual benefit.

Scope of Collection

Photographs and documents of school programs, including dedications of the new school buildings, sporting events, concerts, drama programs and other ephemera. This collection spans from the early 1900s to the present.

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