|Schools from Regents Walk|
|Widow's Perch Elementary|
|Built|| 1852 (schoolhouse)|
Widow's Perch Elementary is the first school seen in the series, and serves to educate the Mains, Shadows, and many other children for the first five comic and short story chapters. The school has been attended by many locals and thanks to Mr. Lyons' donations to it and the guidance of Dr. Filmore, it has retained its position as the best in general available elementary school in the county.
Widow's Perch Elementary sits on the oldest grounds dedicated to education in the town; the area was never used for anything but a school. With an increasing number of migrants settling in what would soon be called McIvertown, around twenty children were brought into the valley, and would need a proper school. A spot was quickly chosen to build a wooden schoolhouse on, and the town's first teacher, known only as a Ms. Penelope, was hired to educate kids, many of which went off to boarding schools in Salem for higher learning.
Sometime after Widow's Perch got its name, the school house, which was in poor shape by then, was torn down and replaced by a small but proper school that taught from kindergarten until eighth grade; students still had to attend schools in Salem to get a full education, until 1910 when Widow's Perch High was constructed. Widow's Perch Primary had a student body of about 100 students. There are few known remaining photographs of it. It was made of brick and mortar and was a two-story building. Its bell is now in the Widow's Perch Heritage Museum.
Classic Widow's Perch Elementary
With Widow's Perch entering its fastest period of growth and the development of Eugene McIver Junior High, the town needed a newer, much larger school to handle a quickly increasing number of children. Again, the previous school was torn down completely, and the new building, which employed the then popular Gothic Revival style, was constructed over the course of one summer by a large crew of poorly paid workers. It was another two story building, and the grounds were expanded to include a bus loop, playground, parking lot, and recreation area. The school lasted in this form for over sixty years, and thousands of students passed through its halls over the years.
Once the previous building had surpassed its expected lifespan and it no longer fit in with the rest of the town, Mr. Lyons funded a massive renovation project to bring the school up to modern standards and style. The same year that Eugene McIver became a middle school (grades 6-8), demolition began. Many of the old desks and chairs were given to Eugene McIver Middle School, and after the building had its day with the wrecking ball (that only spared its playground), dozens of portables were deployed that taught students across the 1984-1985 school year. Conditions were generally miserable for both children and teachers, as the grounds were constantly being torn up and construction noise made teaching difficult. Test scores were low that year, as was the grading curve. Some students, however, have fond memories of the special year, and consider themselves a little more awesome for having been a part of it. Renovations were complete in time for the 1985-1986 year.
The features of the current school are below.
The school has four classrooms for every grade, which are designed to hold around twenty-five students each, for a total of around one hundred per grade; five hundred for the entire student body. The classrooms are somewhat cozy but space is used efficiently. First and second grade classrooms have play and study areas. while third and above use any extra space for a few computer stations. Each class has its own T.V./VHS cart, and there are still two projectors available to rent for the shrinking collection of old film reel educational shorts.
There are currently no kindergarten classrooms at the school due to the early education services provided by other local facilities which popped up and/or expanded during the school renovation. Portables were ready to be used should there be a demand, but one never materialized. For now, the school teaches only grades one through five.
Mr. Lyons spared no expense on getting the school an exemplary library and media center, believing that knowledge pursued on a student's own volition is the best kind. He wanted a library where children could not only learn, but also one where they would want to return to and spend any extra time digging through. With a collection of thousands of books, an up-to-date computer catalog, and extra wide open room for special event use like Passport Day, this part of the school is a favorite even among those who seldom read. The room even has a pleasant, distinct smell that is often described as "warm paper, hot off the press."
Ms. Farthing, the librarian, has been with the school since 1960, and has kept a tight ship of the place. The new iteration of the library is much brighter and cleaner than what she was used to, and she doesn't quite fit in either; it's as if she is from a different, bygone age.
In a separate, windowed room towards the back of the library is the school's main computer lab, currently equipped with twelve IBM XT machines. Mr. Lyons' school fund program has promised to replace the machines every four years to keep them relatively modern, and he wants every child in Widow's Perch to grow up knowing how to use the machines of the future, and the school's software library is large.
Ms. Farthing doesn't understand computers at all, so she relies on educational videos and instruction books to educate visiting classes. It is required that everyone watches a provided video about the units before operating them.
The large room with poor acoustics, a linoleum floor, and an all-permeating smell of cleaning products can be none other than the cafeteria. Filled with around a hundred kids at any given time, its long tables are the home of food trading and sharing, notes from mom, whispered rumors about what's in today's special, and at worst, a dreaded food fight—but only if scary old Mr. Foster has slipped up in his guard and patrol duties. At the other end is the wooden stage where plays are performed and Principal Filmore gives his speeches during assemblies.
Inside of a sacred ground composed of mulch and buried toys of grades gone by is the best part of the school and an indicator of how much any kid will look forward to the day's recess. Widow's Perch Elementary's classic wooden playground is its last manmade holdover from its previous incarnation, and the smooth but aging brown wood fort has hosted upon its back thousands of kids over the years, since the 1960's. To choose from on the playground: the fort itself, a slide, two swings, a tetherball pole, a teeter-totter, a jungle gym dome, and climbing bars. Further away are is a small basketball court that doubles as a timeout area. Surrounding the playground are pine trees, considered out of bounds for tag and most other games, but are nonetheless sometimes ventured into by the more curious of explorers.
Every year, the school chooses one classroom to put on a Thanksgiving Play, a few months after classes have begun. It has changed little over the years, despite the insistence of the current director, Ms. Goodwin, that her vision of the play really breaks new ground and explores the heart of the story. In reality, the play is mostly used as a tool for teaching the kids how to better cooperate together and be more sociable. Other first grade classes are given different Holiday events to perform throughout the year, such as a Christmas pageant, a Spring pageant, and the Last Day of School pageant.