100 YEARS – 100 OBJECTS
New Canaan County School’s rich history can be powerfully defined by the school’s vast collection of artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks, documents and publications. Many of these objects have been retired to the archives for historical research and for use in archival exhibits. Many others are still in use in the classrooms and presentation halls, supporting the traditional events and experiences that make up the school’s wonderful educational program. Some artifacts date back to the early years of the school’s history, while others, no less important, are relatively new.
As New Canaan Country School enters its 100th year, 100 Years – 100 Objects will highlight one-hundred of the school’s most interesting objects. The exhibit will build, in groups of twenty, over the course of this centennial year and will be pulled together from the archives vast collection, and also from the classrooms, closets and basements of teachers, parents and alumni. When fully revealed, the exhibit will display an object from each year of Country School’s history. Individually, each object represents a snapshot of the life of the school; collectively, they represent the heart of the school’s mission to inspire “…students to be lifelong learners with the courage and confidence to make a positive contribution to the world.”
Costume and Photograph from 9th Grade Performance of Twelfth Night
From the late 1940’s through the early 1980’s, the 9th grade performed an annual play in March. All of the 9th graders participated as either actors or as part of the technical crew. The 9th grade play became a great opportunity for the class to bond around a common goal. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, a Shakespeare play was typically chosen. Twelfth Night was performed by the class of 1963, some of whom are pictured here in costume. This original costume from the play was made by 9th grade students and parents. In the mid 1980’s, the 9th grade play evolved into the Upper School play, open to 7th, 8th and 9th graders, and is still performed annually in March. Object # 48 1963
The Community School Junior Girls Basketball Trophy
During the 1920’s, Community School competitive team sports included only girls. The Community School had several girls’ basketball teams which competed against teams from other area schools. The Community School Junior team would have included girls from the seventh, sixth and possibly the fifth grades. Each year, the regional Junior Basketball League awarded a trophy to the team that won the most games. This silver cup was presented to the Community School Junior Girls team for the 1925-26 school year and is one of the earliest examples of what has evolved into a robust interscholastic sports program at NCCS. Object #10 1925
Maypole and Photograph of Maypole Dance circa 2002 and 1958
Celebrating May Day on May 1st, is a Country School tradition that goes all the way back to the Community School days when the children would gather on the lawn of the large Victorian school house on Park Street. Continued on Ponus Ridge, May Day was typically celebrated in assembly with the older girls dancing around the maypole as seen in this photograph from 1958. When the Beginners program was re-initiated in 1995, the May Day tradition, which in world history was derived from European Folk Festivals, was revived at Country School. Mr. Lawler and the wood shop classes created this maypole. It is erected on the Thacher lawn each May Day for a festive dance and celebration in the Beginner’s program Object # 43 1958
Wooden Train Set circa 1991
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Parent-Teacher Association (now the PA) came together to organize a large fund raising auction every five years to benefit the school. The most popular and “priceless” items offered in these auctions were items handcrafted by students. For the Country Circus Auction in 1991, 5th and 6th grade students in wood shop each created and signed a wooden train car. Many of the train sets were designed to resemble circus trains and were auctioned off to parents, teachers and alumni who came together at this event to support the school. Country School now holds a fundraising auction every other year and student projects are still featured prominently, underscoring what Country School values most- creativity, community and collaboration.
Courtesy of Ann Conrad Stewart ’78 Object #76 1991
New Canaan Country School’s First Admission “View Book”
The Merritt Parkway is one of the oldest parkways in the United States and is designated as a National Scenic Byway as well as being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The parkway was named for U.S. Congressman Schuyler Merritt and runs for 37 miles, from the New York state line in Greenwich to the Housatonic River in Stratford. Built between 1934 and 1940, the construction of the parkway was close to the campus and created an opportunity for younger students to build their own miniature version in the field adjacent to Far House. A photograph of this endeavor was used in the school’s first “view book.” This type of experiential learning is still deeply embedded in the school’s educational philosophy. Object # 24 1939
Community School Class of 1928 Photographs and Class List circa 1927
In 1928 the Community School graduating class was composed of 8th grade girls. At that time, the boys usually left by the end of the 7th grade to pursue an education at a boy’s school that provided a stronger athletic program as evidenced by the class lists for the 1927-28 school year. There were nine girls in the 8th grade class and of the eight students in the 7th grade, only three were boys. The graduating class of 1928, pictured in these two photographs were a close knit group of girls. The traditionally small class size created these close bonds among students and is a hallmark of the Country School experience to this day. Object # 13 1928
The Community School Minute Book
The Community School was founded in 1916, and officially incorporated in 1919. Once recognized as a corporation, the school was able to acquire real estate and operate as an educational institution under the laws of the State of Connecticut. In December of 1919, the Community School purchased land and a building on the corner of Park and Seminary Street from Edna H. Rogers for $16,000. This book documents the minutes of the Trustee Meetings beginning with the Articles of Association in October of 1919, and accurately traces the evolution of the Community School into New Canaan Country School. The last entry recorded, on May 28, 1936, documents the Board resolution to purchase the property on Ponus Ridge from Grace Church. Object # 4 1919
Clay Birds from K-H
Country School teachers have a long history of weaving their personal passions and interests into their curriculum, providing wonderful opportunity for students to learn from “resident experts.” Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Haffner is an avid bird watcher. Her classroom is filled with information about birds, and each year she arranges a class trip to the Audubon Center in Greenwich for an experiential learning activity on bird watching. K-H students express their knowledge and understanding of birds in many creative ways, as evidenced by these clay bird sculptures created, over the years, with Mrs. Haffner.
Courtesy of Twee Haffner Object # 84 1999
Blue-White Day, first established in 1985, is Country School’s Middle and Upper School Field Day which is held annually in June at the close of Upper School exam week. Middle and Upper School students are assigned to either the Blue or White team upon their arrival to 5th grade and siblings are always assigned to the same team. The Blue-White rivalry has been an experience enjoyed by the entire school community. The Blue-White trophy is awarded each year to the team with the most points and is displayed in the Grace House Lobby. These banners were created in 1986 as a way of honoring each team.
Object # 71 1986
Letter Promoting First Clothesline Sale circa 1949
This letter from the 1948 – 49 NCCS Scrapbook, advertises Country School’s first Clothesline Sale as the “Children’s Clothesline.” The sale was an opportunity to buy and sell children’s clothing on a budget. The event was designed to also raise money for the school’s Scholarship Aid Fund. As time went on, the sale evolved to include furniture, household goods and sporting equipment. By the mid 1980’s the sale had grown to mammoth proportions, filling two gymnasiums and the school’s Assembly Hall, attracting huge crowds from all over the region. After a decade long break, the Clothesline Sale returned, reimagined as “Deal Days,” a one day tag sale held every other spring in the Watson Gym.
Object # 34 1949
Painting by 8th Grade Art Students circa 2004
Dogs have always been a welcome addition to the Country School. It is difficult to imagine a walk around campus without encountering a friendly dog. There are many “canine alumni” who are fondly remembered as part of the school’s history. Nick Thacher, the school’s third Head, understood the value of dogs in an elementary school setting. In a 1992-1993 speech, he paraphrased his grandfather, “There is something about the outside of a dog, that’s good for the inside of a child.” This painting, created by 8th grade students in 2004, was part of an Upper School art project where students painted faculty and staff dogs and then presented the paintings to their owners.
Painting courtesy of Mark Macrides
Object # 78 1993
Recorder and Holiday Concert Photograph circa 1983
Learning to play the recorder has been a staple of the Middle School program since the early years on Ponus Ridge. Students are given a recorder upon their entry into 4th grade and are expected to keep that recorder through the 6th grade. Historically, there have been several evening opportunities for the students to share their mastery of the recorder. This photograph from 1983, highlights middle school students playing solos at the Holiday Concert. The recorder displayed here was used by Country School students in similar events.
Object # 68 1983
Aerial Photograph of New Canaan Country School circa 1946
Six years after the completion of the Upper School building, just below and to the right of the photograph center, the school commissioned its first aerial photograph. It is clear from the photograph that the developed campus boundaries were much narrower than they are today. Beyond the barn, where athletics fields are today, was undeveloped farmland. In the lower center of the photograph, roughly where the Stevens Building is today, the tall grass was cut shorter to create a playing field for practice and other outdoor events. When compared to recent aerial photographs, it is clear that the physical campus has thoughtfully changed to accommodate the growing needs of the school community. Object # 31 1946
Artistic Rendering of the Thacher Building and Photograph of Construction circa 2000
When Nicholas Thacher announced his retirement as Head of School in 1999, plans for the new early childhood building were well underway. The building was designed with a two-fold goal: to house Beginners, Kindergarten and the Extended Day program and to reduce class size by adding a section of each grade level in Lower School. That year, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion to name the early childhood building after Mr. Thacher. The Thacher building was constructed upon what had been the school’s field hockey field. This artist’s rendering of the building was created to give the community a sense of how the completed building would look. Object # 87 2002
Father-Son Dinner Poster and Photograph of Father-Son Dinner
circa 1978 and 1975
The annual Father-Son Dinner dates back to 1940 when it was held in November. It has always been a special night for Upper School boys and their fathers and usually features some sort of motivational speaker or entertainer. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, a tradition associated with the event, involved the 9th grade girls creating posters for the 9th grade boys. These posters, highlighting the interests of each particular student in a lighthearted manner, were displayed on the walls of the Welles Commons as part of the decorations for the evening. The boys, in return, would create posters for the 9th grade girls in the spring for the annual Mother-Daughter dinner. More recently, as an alternative to the posters, large photographs of each student are displayed in the cafeteria. Poster courtesy of Jeff Erdman ’78 Object # 63 1978
Portrait of Timothy R. Bazemore circa 2014
New Canaan Country School's excellence as an educational institution is due, in part, to the fact that, in its first 100 years, it has been led by only a handful of visionary leaders. The past four Head of School’s have all had their portraits painted upon their departure from Country School. Each portrait has its own distinctive style, hangs in a special location and honors the distinct impact of each long-standing head. Henry Welles's actually had two official portraits painted, one by William Earle, who was an art teacher at NCCS. Tim Bazemore, Country School's fourth Head, served for fourteen years, from 2000 to 2014. His portrait reflects a more casual style and was painted by Grace DeVito, a portrait artist from Stamford.
Object # 99 2014
Letter from Effie Dunton to Mr. Ashwell and Mr. McWilliam circa 1932
Edith Dudley and Effie Dunton served as Co-Principals of the Community School for 16 years. In the early spring of 1932, they announced their intention to retire from the school. These beloved leaders, were responsible for the early success of the school. While the Board of Trustees was very sorry to see them go, they honored Miss Dudley and Miss Dunton and their service to the school by presenting them with a generous retirement fund and silver plate inscribed as follows, “To Edith Dudley and Effie Dunton with the Deepest Affection and Appreciation of the Parents, Graduates and Pupils of The Community School of New Canaan 1916 – 1932.” The letter from Miss Dunton expresses their gratitude for this generosity as well as their feelings toward the school community.
Object # 17 1932
Props from the Greek Plays
circa 1950 – 1970
The Greek Plays have been a 4th grade tradition at Country School for over fifty years. Performed in a variety of styles and in a variety of venues, the plays are a culmination of the study of the history of Ancient Greece. Over the years, many an NCCS Student has sailed aboard a Greek ship powered by this sail, fought a battle with this sword or spear, and as the God, Poseidon, wielded this trident. The plays continue to be performed annually in May. Object # 94 2009
Frogtown Fair Flag and Flagpole
The Frogtown Fair flag and flagpole are key to the annual traditions of the Frogtown Fair. The Frogtown Fair still opens with much fanfare and the raising of this flag which was created by older students in 1958. The first Frogtown Fair was held in 1947 evolving from an annual community picnic to include a midway run by 9th graders, pony rides and the visit of an antique fire truck. The fair is also an opportunity for alumni to return and celebrate their class reunions. Object # 32 1947
New Canaan Country School Sounds of 1969 circa 1969
Country School has always offered a variety of performing arts opportunities to students. John Huwiler was the Middle and Upper School Musical Director through five decades, directing countless concerts and musicals. In 1969, some of the students’ musical performances were featured on a 33 RPM record. Vinyl records were introduced in 1948 and were eventually replaced in popularity by cassettes and compact discs. A few of the highlights of this recording are: Oklahoma by the Upper School Madrigal Singers, selections from the 9th grade play As You Like It, and John Henry by the Middle School “Choraleers,” a select choral group.
Object # 54 1969