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March 19, 2008 > History: Centerville School District 1870 to 1924

History: Centerville School District 1870 to 1924

Centerville hosted a music festival for the schools of San Lorenzo, Hayward, Alvarado and Irvington in 1870. There were 10 districts in the county by 1870. Centerville now had two teachers, and "a new school house was under way."

The Alameda County Independent reported July 7, 1877 that a new school house had been erected after "a struggle of three or four years." Following a successful election, a contract was given to J. A. Murray who completed the building at a cost of $3,125.75. It contained two large rooms, a hall and library room that covered a total area of 36 X 80 feet. The building was located a short distance southeast of town with "easy access to all patrons" (The present school site of Centerville Jr. High).

The editor noted that trustees G. S. Norris, H. Dusterberry and L. G. Yates had spent a great deal of time and money at their own expense so that "the community might have a school of which they could be proud." Howard Overacker bought the old building for $230 in August 1877.

The district did not have enough money to furnish the new building so a social dance was given at the hall June 29, 1877 to raise money. An immense crowd of "people of all descriptions" came to enjoy the party and support the school project.

Centerville was reported to have "an excellent public school in 1878. The total value of the lot, building, furniture, books and apparatus was $4,340, and monthly expenses were about $160.

The county superintendent reported that the teachers were doing good work. W. H. Yates was teaching the following subjects to upper grades in 1879: geometry, arithmetic, geography, reading, higher arithmetic, grammar, history, spelling, philosophy, penmanship, and composition. Mary Brown taught word class; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd reader; number class; arithmetic; spelling; geography; local and oral geography; and writing to 85 students in the primary department. The local editor noted the school closed with appropriate exercises and final examinations were passed very credibly.

Teachers in 1884 were Ella Wilson, principal, Phoebe Parker, intermediate, and Lizzie Dunn, primary to upper grades.

The 1886 spelling match scheduled with Washington Corners (Irvington) was postponed because of "concerns the students needed more training." The building received a new coat of paint in 1889 and was added on to by 1904 and had five rooms. The district was now the largest in Washington Township and had four teachers counting the principal, H. W. Lynch. The yard was described as "large, with a number of fine, big trees."

The Washington Press reported in July 1909 that "the entire corps of teachers at Centerville were reelected with a slight increase in salary." The teachers listed were Joseph Dias, principal, Margaret Crothers, Elsie Sandholdt, Mrs. Mary H. Lynch and Mrs. A. H. Rogers. The Township Register noted in 1910 that the school now had "a yearly attendance of over 300 pupils, a building noticeable for the surrounding trees, and grounds equipped for basketball and athletic amusements and recreation of the students."

The district held an election April 20, 1912 to sell bonds for a new building, furniture, apparatus and improving school grounds. The bonds were approved and secured by the Bank of Centerville. A new building was erected in front of the old building at 267 South Main St. "The main floor had an auditorium, office, library, teachers' room, and six classrooms. Restrooms, storage areas, and the manual training room were in the basement. The boys lined up at one end of the basement and the girls at the other then they all marched up the stairs to the classrooms. A wrought iron fence was built across the front of the property and the famous iron arch with the words 'Centerville Public School, Established 1852' was erected."

By 1915 Centerville School Centerville School had six teachers, 16 graduates, an $18,000 building, and lovely pine trees on a three-acre campus. The new building so challenged the "local boys" that they took apart a large freight wagon and reassembled it on the roof one memorable Halloween night.

There were 200 students by 1916. The teachers were Joseph Dias, principal, 8th and 5th grades; Adelia Rogers, 6th and 7th grades; H. Aloyce Sinnott, 4th grade; Mary H. Lynch, 2nd and 3rd grades, and Anna F. Vargas, 1st grade. Trustees were Frank Dusterberry, John G. Mattos, Jr. and Manuel Oliverira. The playground was fully equipped and "special attention was given to athletics, baseball and basketball."

The Centerville Parent Teacher Association was organized on September 4, 1924. Officers were Mrs. W. L. McWhirter, president; Mrs. F. T. Dusterberry, vice-president; Principal Joseph Dias, vice-president; Mrs. L. T. Vincent, recording secretary; Mrs. Leo Moore, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Henry Dusterberry, financial secretary; and Mrs. Anthony Goulart, treasurer. Evening meetings with a nursery school for parents who wished to bring their children was soon added.

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