Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Exhibit - Ocean Township High Schools at 50


New Exhibit - Ocean Township High Schools at 50
Opening - Sunday, September 6, 2015, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Eden Woolley House, Our Town Gallery, 703 Deal Road, Ocean, NJ 07712


Early September, 1965, the doors of Ocean Township High School (OTHS) opened for the first time. It was a momentous day—the culmination of an impassioned campaign and a turning point for both Ocean Township and Asbury Park, the district that up to then had educated most of the township’s teens.

Fifty years later, almost to the day, a mini-exhibit opens at the Eden Woolley House commemorating the milestone. “OTHS at 50,” premiering 1 to 4, Sunday, September 6, uses photographs, press clippings, and artifacts to demonstrate how the school’s history mirrors five decades of social and political change.

The campaign for a high school

Ocean Township’s commitment to education is long standing. Between 1784 and 1960, it built at least nine schools.  None was a high school.

Graduating eighth graders had a choice: Asbury Park or Long Branch.  Most chose Asbury. By 1962 Ocean students at Asbury High outnumbered city students 713 to 558. Ocean was booming and more than 1,000 high school-age students were projected by 1966. Asbury High, on split session since 1959, was already overcrowded. Something had to be done.

Asbury asked Ocean to sign a 20-year contract with the city as a condition for its undertaking a building expansion. Ocean refused. There was talk of regionalization, at first rejected and later revisited by the city. But it was too late.

A full-blown campaign for an Ocean Township high school, spearheaded by the PTAs, was underway. On June 12, 1962, by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, the voters of Ocean approved a $2,969,000 bond to built their own school.

OTHS changes with the times

Ocean High opened in 1965 without a senior class. Ocean seniors had returned to Asbury to graduate with their class. The next year, OTHS held its first graduation and published its first yearbook--then as now, The Sandpiper.

A look through almost a half century of yearbooks reveals more than changing hair styles and hemlines. Here’s a sample:

• In the 1960s, Industrial Arts were just for boys, Home Economics, just for girls (who also have a “Homemaking Club”).

• Title IX (prohibiting discrimination in federally funded programs) shaped the 1970s: for the first time girls had golf, tennis, and soccer teams; girls fixed cars, boys baked cakes.

• The technology revolution is evident. Keypunch machines of the 1970s give way to desktops in the late 1980s and electronics redefine the classroom in the new millennium.

Proof of the pudding

In recent years, OTHS has made its share of “best high school” lists. Its own list of notable alums is impressive: Academy Award, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize winners; distinguished educators, journalists, authors, and scientists; a fashion designer, a network news anchor, innovative entrepreneurs, and more.

Join us September 6 to learn more about these talented graduates and the history of the school that shaped them.

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