The Lawrence Public Schools celebrates over a century of excellence in education. A look back at the past 100 years shows that the district has had a rich history and that its future will be even more successful.
The Lawrence Union Free School District 15 was officially established on January 24, 1891. There were not more than a dozen teachers and only 286 students in the district's first years. Classes were held in a two-room schoolhouse on Broadway and Frost Lane, with branch one-room schools in Lawrence and Northwest Point (now known as Inwood).
In 1893 the Frost Lane Schoolhouse was sold, and the first Lawrence High School, housing both high school and elementary grades, was built on Central Avenue. The district celebrated its very first commencement in 1898 with all of two students taking center stage as graduates. By the turn of the century, enrollment had risen to 794 students districtwide. It gained its first superintendent in 1906. Fred DeLancy King, previously supervising principal, became superintendent of schools in 1906 under the Superintendency of Schools Act. He served until 1918.
Torn down in 1913, a new Lawrence High School was built. During the building's construction students attended class in the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire House. The new high school went on to graduate a class of 13 students in 1915.
As the century progressed, the district continued to grow. The Inwood School was demolished in 1920 and replaced with the Number Two School. Additions to that building would be made in 1927 and 1958. In 1922, the Cedarhurst School was also demolished and replaced with Number Three School, now the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) on Central Avenue.
Also in 1922, a wing was added to the high school, giving it 16 academic classes and six vocational ones. It also housed the district superintendent's offices. By 1927 Number Five School had taken its place among the district's school buildings. It received an addition in 1931. It was also in the 1930s that the district was ready for a new high school building, constructed on Broadway in 1936 at a cost of $825,000.
The next major expansion took place in 1955 when Number Six School was built. Then, in 1960, the present Lawrence High School was constructed. It opened with a capacity enrollment of 1165 students. Among the latest additions made to the district's size came in 1955 when the old high school building (then known as the junior high, now the Middle School) was almost doubled in size. Then, with the demographic changes the 1970's brought, the Number Three School building was sold in 1978. More recently, the Number One School building closed in 2004 due to further demographic changes.
In 2009, the Board of Education made the decision to consolidate by closing the Number Six School and move the fifth graders to the Middle School.
Today, Lawrence Public Schools has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students receiving an outstanding education in its five buildings. Through the years Lawrence has pursued high standards of quality in education and been recognized on local, state and national levels for having Schools of Excellence. In recent years, Lawrence students and staff have earned prestigious honors in the Intel Science Talent Search (formerly known as Westinghouse Science Talent Search), the Disney American Teacher Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholar Program.
It's been a long road from 1891 and a distinguished one. The district has come a long way, thanks to the efforts of its dedicated faculty and staff and through the support of the Board of Education and the community. As it enters its second century, Lawrence Public Schools stands ready to face the challenges of the future and will undoubtedly continue to thrive.