Going Back to School

A glimpse at the lives of South Shore high school students, 100 years ago.

By John Galluzzo

The class of 1916 knew the world was unstable, but the class of 1917 understood that instability would forever affect their lives. By the spring of their final year in high school, students watched as the United States declared war on Germany. Their friends and neighbors held patriotic flag raising ceremonies while simultaneously turning over nearly every available plot of land to raise food for what they believed would be a sustained war effort in Europe. As the students returned to school that fall, the class of 1918 knew that before all was said and done, they might be trading in their school colors for the khaki and navy blue of the United States armed forces.

Partridge Academy

Duxbury had two high schools in 1917. The Partridge Academy on Tremont Street opened as a private school for both boys and girls in 1845. By 1900 it had become the town’s public high school. With a new high school on Alden Street in 1926, the old Partridge Academy fell vacant and succumbed to a fire in 1933. Today’s Duxbury Town Hall stands on this site.

Photo courtesy of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society.


Scituate’s students gathered in what today is called the “Little Red Schoolhouse” on Cudworth Road behind the Gates School, which is now the administrative headquarters of the Scituate Historical Society. These students, photographed in 1916, would graduate in time to become part of the first wave of soldiers, sailors and nurses drafted into the American armed forces to help win the “War to End All Wars.”

Photo courtesy of the Scituate Historical Society.


The 1917 graduating class at the Ventress School in Marshfield (shown here with the rest of the student body) chose red, white and blue for their class colors. At their graduation exercises they read essays on “Aviation in the Present War,” “Women and the War,” and even “Canada’s Efficiency in the War.” The class of 1918 chose their motto, “O’er the Top,” after the war cry of troops condemned to die in trench warfare along the front lines.

Photo courtesy of the Marshfield Historical Society.


When Hanover students returned to school in 1917, they did so at the town’s municipal building at Hanover Center. With a population of approximately 2,400, Hanover was not in need of a separate high school at the time and wouldn’t build one for another decade.

Postcard courtesy of the Hanover Historical Society.

Powder Point School for Boys

“King Caesar,” otherwise known by his given name Ezra Weston, once ruled his mercantile empire from Powder Point. Years after his passing, his home became the headmaster’s house for the Powder Point School for Boys (today it’s a museum). The school operated from 1893 to 1925 before merging with Tabor Academy in Marion.

This shot shows boys doing what high school boys did best in the pre-war years, suiting up for a turn at the national pastime, baseball.


Hingham High School, built in 1872, was remodeled around 1907, and served as the town high school for both Hingham and Hull. Students would arise in Hull and catch a barge (a horse-drawn wagon) to the train, which would take them to the school. Built on Central Street, the old school burned down in 1927, due to the work of an arsonist.

Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society.


Whitman’s high school on South Street was a gem in its day, but population made it obsolete within a few decades of its 1912 restoration. Unlike many of the high schools that existed on the South Shore in the fall of 1917, this building still stands today.

Postcard courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Abington.

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