Junior High


We often tend to ignore our junior high experiences when we  reminisce fondly about high school, but this is where we first came together as the OJHS class of 1957, where we began our adolescent social development and where we prepared to enter our high school.  


Most of our families moved to Oceanside, or to a neighboring town (either Island Park to the south, where schools went only to the 8th grade, Rockville Centre to the north, where schools were overcrowded, or parts of Baldwin to the east) during the suburban population explosion of western Long Island that would start winding down around 1955.

Click here for some history of this building before we got there.

Click here for the entire roster of graduates of the OJHS graduating class of 1957.

Click here for rare group photos of our entire OJHS graduating class of 1957. 

Except for those among us who moved to Oceanside after June 1957 or were bussed to school from one of the neighboring towns  ,

we all came from one of five local elementary schools to a single junior high, Oceanside Junior High School, on Castleton Court (with a side entrance at Merle Avenue).     

At first, in September 1954, junior high was not such a wonderful world for many of us; it was a rather frightening and intimidating experience.

 When was the last time you saw one of these?
      Or the junior high jewelry shown above?  


For the very first time in those early days of the 7th grade, we no longer spent our entire school day a short walk from our homes and in the shelter and comfort of a single classroom in a relatively small and familiar building, with only one teacher and a handful of other kids our own age. Suddenly, most of us had to ride busses to school, and we all had to move about from class to class, with about six different teachers every day, interacting with hundreds of other kids of different ages, in a huge building, pushing and shoving (or more likely being pushed and shoved by bigger kids) through the halls and up or down the one-way staircases to get to our classes in the precious little time they gave us.  

Our 7th grade year was doubly scary; that was because that was the only year the school building (which was originally opened  in 1936 as a high school) was doing dual duty as Oceanside Junior-Senior High School, and it was particularly crowded. We were the first and only 7th graders who had to contend with those really big, post-pubescent high school kids who really didn't like having us little kids around. (OHS opened its new, separate building on Skillman and Brower Avenues in 1955 when we were in the 8th grade.)

Nevertheless, in our early adolescent years, here at OJHS, we began learning to socialize and interact with the opposite sex. Our jr. high school helped us overcome this formidable hurdle of coming of age by offering us a plethora of extra-curricular activities and by holding "teen nights" every Friday alternating each week between our first awkward school dances and (remember?) roller-skating. Although you could sustain serious humiliation from being seen falling on roller skates, from a social point of view, the potential for embarrassment was a great deal less and, therefore less stressful, than at those early dances. 

Below are two photos of a typical class Miss Cowin's 7th or 8th grade Social Studies class taken the same day (it must have been "take a camera to school day" or something), circa spring or early fall, 1955.  How many of our classmates can you name?



Click here for a memory highlight of our jr. high years:

The 1955 World Series Dodgers Defeat Yankees Finally!!


Do you remember Chat?

Chat was our jr. high school newspaper/magazine.

Started in 1932, by the time we
were graduated in 1957, Chat
was published four times a year
and generally consisted of 26
pages, mimeographed. And it
sold for 15
per copy.

The June 1957 edition
Cover art by classmate,
Carol Johnson


Most of us have a Spindrift that tells us who won our senior class poll in 1960, but how many remember who won our freshman class poll in 1957?  Well, the June 1957 edition of Chat tells us:



Best Dressed:                           Carol Johnson and Rudy Santoli

Most Likely to Succeed:          Ellie Freed and Dennis Deegan

Wittiest:                                   Felicia "Flea" Morris and Artie Oliver

Most Talented:                        Ellie Freed and Dave Schwarz

Most Popular:                         Felicia "Flea" Morris and Tom Turner

Best Looking:                         Bev Barnes* and Tom Turner

Did Most for the School:       Dorrie McKane and Al Carlson

Best Athlete:                          Carole Hassett* and Rudi Santoli


*    Congratulations, Bev and Carole  two for two (jr. high and high school).


And just in case some of us were apprehensive about going on to high school (where many of those really big kids who had intimidated us in 7th grade were), in the June 1957 edition of Chat, our Principal, the very large and confidence-inspiring William F. Helmcke, profoundly assured us that although "high school work will be more difficult than junior high, [it]...will not present insurmountable obstacles [emphasis added]," and for some unexplained reason, his expressed wish for our success was cautiously limited (one may wonder why) only to our "immediate futures."  

And here is what our classmate, Jill Slater, wrote in the same June 1957 issue of Chat about an important part of our then impending junior high graduation ritual, caps and gowns:




Click here for the entire roster of graduates of our OJHS graduating class of 1957.
(There are names there you haven't seen nor heard in decades.)

Click here for rare group photos of our entire OJHS graduating class of 1957.

Weather in Oceanside, New York, on our Graduation Day, June 24, 1957:

  • High temp: 86.4F
  • Low temp: 72.3F
  • Average temp: 78.2F
  • Dewpoint: 68.7F
  • Wind speed: 9.8 knots
  • Precipitation: 0 inches

Our OJHS band at graduation, June 24, 1957


Another shot of our OJHS band on graduation day,
June 24, 1957, led by band teacher, Ed Taylor, right.


Click here for a special tribute to the memory of Ed Taylor, the wonderful teacher who led the OJHS band.

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