Sunday, October 2, 2011

TIME MACHINE ... Pocomoke High!

The 42.8 million dollar renovation of the "old" Pocomoke High School is completed. Some of us still think of this facility as the "new" school, with our memories of the "old" PHS being that of the former building on Market Street which was Pocomoke High for almost three decades up through the late 1950's.

But if the sentiment by a considerable segment of the public and the Board Of Education had prevailed the new high school would not have been constructed at its present location. In fact there would not have been a Pocomoke High School. It would have been a consolidated school located between Pocomoke and Snow Hill to serve both towns and the surrounding areas.

January, 1955

During the first week of January,1955, about 350 citizens from Pocomoke and Snow Hill, who had been organized as fact-finding groups, attended a meeting at Stephen Decatur High, the new consolidated school serving Ocean City and Berlin. They toured the school and were to gather information and opinions and forward their findings on to the Worcester County Commissioners, and legislators.

It was reported that the cost of a consolidated school would be $1,500,000, while separate schools would each cost half that amount.

Following the meeting it was reported that about half of those in attendance were favorable to Pocomoke and Snow Hill sharing a consolidated school similar to Stephen Decatur, a much lesser number favored two separate schools and the remainder were reserving opinion. Pocomoke and Snow Hill PTA 's were to host meetings the following week to gather public opinion on the matter and as to whether a county-wide referendum should be held.

At the following week's meetings, in a close vote of 184 to 166 Snow Hill residents favored a consolidated school between Snow Hill and Pocomoke. At the Pocomoke meeting the vote was 172 to 72 in favor of a consolidated school. By a wider margin Pocomoke and Snow Hill residents voted against the issue being decided by a county-wide referendum.

Stockton residents presented the County Commissioners with a petition favoring the consolidated school, signed by 175 of 201 of its citizens who were approached.

The heads of the fact-finding committees from Snow Hill and Pocomoke expressed the opinion that a consolidated school would be more practical than two separate schools. The Board Of Education appeared to agree with proponents that better educational facilities at a lower cost could be provided with a consolidated school.

But a delegation of city officials and businessmen headed by the mayors of Pocomoke and Snow Hill told the County Commissioners that they favored separate schools for each community and their respective city councils had voted resolutions in support of that choice.

Proponents for a consolidated school claimed support for their cause was in the majority. They had meetings with the County Commissioners, Board Of Education, and members of Worcester County's state legislative delegation but the final decision of the County Commissioners was to pursue separate High Schools for Pocomoke and Snow Hill, and Worcester County's members of the state legislature favored that choice as well. In March, 1955, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bond bill funding construction of separate new High Schools for Pocomoke and Snow Hill. 


January, 1930

(Site selected for a new PHS on Market Street)

An injunction against building a new Pocomoke High School on a site selected by Worcester County Commissioners was denied in Circuit Court. County Commissioner Charles L. Mason and 20 area residents were seeking the injunction, claiming the County Commissioners authority was limited to a site within Pocomoke City's corporate limits.

The site selected by the commissioners was at Ninth Street which marked the city boundary. The Circuit Court ruling upheld the right of the Board Of Commissioners to determine the site.

Footnote: PHS was located on Market Street between 10th and 11th streets, but did those streets exist in 1930? When the school was constructed perhaps Ninth Street, as referenced above, was the closest street adjacent to the site selected for the school location. Anyone know more?


December, 1971

An investigation was continuing into a fire which destroyed the old Pocomoke High School building on Market Street which had become Pocomoke City Elementary School after the new High School building was constructed near the south end of Cedar Street. Students were safely evacuated from the building when the school fire alarm sounded, most thinking it was a routine fire drill. Principal John W. Tatem discovered the fire which was believed to have started in an area near a boiler room but there was no indication that the boilers were a cause of the blaze. Flames quickly enveloped the structure. The building was bricked on the outside but most of the internal framing was wood. Following the blaze only the shell of the walls remained. Portable classrooms near the building were saved.



January, 1950

The new year was bringing changes to Social Security with a boost in the program's tax but also increased benefits to citizens. As reported by the Associated Press...

If the house bill is passed and signed by Pres. Harry S. Truman, it will bring this much added security to Americans:

The lowest pensions, now $10 for a single retired worker, will rise to $25 a month. The top pension for an aged couple, now $85, would be $126.



Do you have a local memory to share with PPE readers.. such as a big snow storm, a favorite school teacher, a local happening, something of interest your parents or grandparents told you about? It can be just a line or two or more if you wish. Your name won't be used unless you ask that it be. Send to and watch for it on a future TIME MACHINE posting!

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