The Norma Grade School, 1931-34
The Norma Grade School. From Yoval.
While agriculture was the focus and reason for the founding of early communities in and around Alliance, other social and cultural activities grew and prospered, as well. Education was a deeply important aspect of these communities. The Norma Grade School on Gershel Avenue (Public School No. 9), was a small four-room, two-story wooden building.
Amazingly, three handmade yearbooks from the sixth-grade classes of 1931, 1932, and 1933 have made their way to the Alliance Heritage Center Collections. One yearbook even includes information on the seventh-grade class for that year. (They were students who the year previously had been sixth graders at the nearby Alliance school, which at that time only held classes through the sixth year.) The hand-written information and photographs provide a unique personal glimpse into the lives of the students and staff at the Norma School in the early 1930s.
Ruth Brodsky, Norma Yearbook 1932-33.
Joseph Chonofsky, Norma Yearbook 1933-34.
Reba Adams, Norma Yearbook 1932-33.
For those years, the sixth grade teacher was Miss Lillian Rothman while Miss Rose Sternberg taught the seventh graders. At the time, the school had no indoor bathrooms, so the students used outhouses. The building was heated by a pipeless heating system.
Along with photographs of each student sitting outside in their classroom chairs, handwritten details along with nicknames and activities are included for everyone. Other activities such as the May Day pageants, clubs, and sports are described, as well.
Miss Lillian Rothman, Sixth Grade Teacher. Norma Yearbook.
The annual May Day Pageant, a celebration which marked the beginning of summer, was an important community event. School children participated in various parts of the festivities. In 1932, students performed "Episodes in the Life of George Washington," in honor of the president's 200th birthday.
Tom Kinsella, Growing American: The Alliance Agricultural Colony in South Jersey-A History (Galloway, NJ: South Jersey Culture and History Center, 2021).
May Day Activities at Centerton Park, 1933. Norma Yearbook.