As told by Beverly Costa, teacher at Cedar Brook School from 1961-1991, on the 50th anniversary of Cedar Brook, October 22, 2012.
In the winter of 1959, Herbert Brendel, then principal of Brookside Jr. Academy in Taunton, had the vision and foresight of consolidating Attleboro Church School, Brookside and Providence Jr. Academy into a more efficient, comprehensive and enlarged educational program for the youth in the Attleboro, Middleboro, Pawtucket, Providence and Taunton Churches.
In the spring of 1960, many land sites were visited as prospective locations to build our school. One day as I went to Ed Kammerer’s store on Rte 44 to buy eggs,….which is now Uncle Ed’s Ice Cream Parlor, I happened to tell him we were looking for land to build a school. He told me about a beautiful piece of land he owned where the Town of Rehoboth had planned to build their high school before the two towns of Dighton and Rehoboth decided to regionalize. He said he would be glad to show it to me.
An appointment was made with Mr. Brendel, Ed Kammerer and myself to meet. We drove up Ralsie Road to a stone wall that came to a dead-end. We climbed over the stone wall and walked around this open field of 12.9 acres and knew this was the ideal spot to build our school. It didn’t take much persuasion to get the others involved on the locating committee to agree that this was the place for the school to be built. The price of the land was $1,000.00 per acre.
The next task was to find a name for our new school. It was decided that a contest should be held having all the children in the 3 schools submit names. A committee was formed to choose one of the names submitted by the children. Because of all the cedar trees on the property and the brook running alongside, the committee felt Cedar Brook School was an appropriate name. Sharon Costa was the one who had submitted that name and received a month’s free tuition as her prize……I was not on the committee!
John Latimer was the architect and Gabriel Machado the chosen builder. Gib Machado’s daughter, Joyce Leonard, is a member of Taunton Church. Mr. Machado and his workers started in the spring of 1961, worked tirelessly all summer long and by September 20, 1961 our doors opened for the first day of school. There were 148 students and 6 teachers. Effie Jennings taught grades 1-2, I had grades 3-4, Jerry Holdridge grades 5-6, and Herb Brendel, Joyce Curtis and Peggy Edmister grades 7-10. Our classrooms consisted of 4 walls….No blackboards, no coatracks, no cupboards and NO heat. Nothing except the desks! The children had to keep their coats behind their chairs and lunches were kept on the tile floors.
As I said, our first day of school was September 20, a Wednesday, and on Thursday, September 21, we were hit by a hurricane that forced school to be closed. We started off with a tempest, but through all of the challenges, God has blessed us with 50 full years.
Many school boards have contributed to the success of Cedar Brook School including the very first which was chaired by Dr. Roy Latimer up to our present board chaired by Annette Perez.
Cedar Brook has been blessed with 15 hard-working, consecrated Principals: Herbert Brendel, our first, 1961-1966, Maynard Yeary, 1966-1969, during his tenure the gymnasium with kitchen and additional classrooms was added. Principals that followed are Jack Stiles, Duane Barnett, Robert Mulkern, Ronald Skinner, Keith Waters, Fred Quaile, Mark Wile, Jeanette Bryson, Sandra Doran, Robert Van Ornan, Lawrence Lighthall, Brenda Litalien, Desali Viera, Rogerio Venturini, and our present principal, Sherrie Wall.
I have already mentioned the original faculty members and since that first year many teachers have dedicated their talents to making Cedar Brook what it is today. This number has included specialists in auto mechanics as David Taylor, music teachers as David Lacy, home economics and art teachers, librarians as Sharon Wyrostek and Nancy Ingham who also taught physical education. We have also been blessed with excellent secretaries like Ruth Thornley, Phyllis Wrona, Carole Steele, Maria Lopes, and our current business manager, Sandy Urel. We had cautious school bus drivers as Thelma Gray and a host of other staff too numerous to mention. Scrutinizing auditors and bookkeepers, such as Adele Emin, who devoted over 20 years to Cedar Brook. She was also the first female CPA in Rhode Island and died well over the age of 100.
Ellen G. White has stated, “As long as time shall last we shall have need of schools.” May God continue to bless Cedar Brook School until He comes when education will continue throughout eternity with the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ.