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Christopher Payne

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The first school in Big Woods was a one-room log cabin built in 1835 near the Payne home.

As the town grew, two districts evolved - #6, the east side and #5, the west side. Grades 1-8 began early, but high schools came much later.

In 1879, the East Side High School graduated its first class. Their school house on Washington Avenue had three stories with two rooms on each floor. The high school occupied the third floor.

In 1894, fire destroyed the building. Classes moved to the three-story Thomle building on Wilson Street while a new schoolhouse was built on the same spot.

A high school was constructed on the west side in 1885. Students attended classes at Central School on First Street. There were two rooms on each of two floors and a hall with a stage on the third floor. The high school occupied the south room on the second floor.

As enrollment increased in the elementary grades, the district purchased the old Methodist Church next door. The high school occupied the second floor.

T. C. Frye was hired as superintendent of the west side schools. It was he who first suggested consolidation of the two districts. But it was not until 1909 that the first definite step toward consolidation took place when Horace A. Bone was chosen as superintendent for both sides of the river.

Although at first, the classes met separately, they united in athletics and considered themselves one high school. Teacher meetings were combined, and the work was made to correspond in the two schools.

Students attended the west side for certain classes and the east side for other classes. The course of study widened, and much more effective work was achieved. Athletic participation grew. All this led to the final union of the district in the spring of 1911.

By the fall of 1912, the high school enrollment had increased to 180 with a prospect for continued growth. A referendum was passed for a new high school on Wilson Street at Batavia Avenue. There were thirty graduates in the class of 1912.

The schools of Batavia today include J. B. Nelson School, opened in 1955; Alice Gustafson School, in 1957; Batavia Senior High, in 1966; H. C. Storm and Louise White Schools, in 1978; and the Batavia Rotolo Middle School in 1992, Grace McWayne and Hoover Wood schools in 2001.

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