Historical Changes to Naugatuck High School

NHS New Wing Diagram

Naugatuck High School’s new wing layout

 NAUGATUCK – With the renovation taking place at Naugatuck High School, administrators and Board of Education members have to make decisions regarding improvements to better the school while keeping historical traditions intact. A controversy has recently started over changing the names of the building’s four wings: Judd, Castle, Goodyear and Applied Education. For safety reasons, the new names will be North (currently known as Judd); East (CAFE and beyond); South (currently Goodyear); and West (currently the gymnasium and pool area).

After many discussions with the Board of Education, fire and police departments and the board’s building committee, Naugatuck High School’s principal, Janice Saam, made the decision based on factors pertaining to safety and convenience. Like many large buildings such as hospitals or universities, the wings will be named based on their geographical location for emergency workers as well as visitors so “anyone could know exactly where they are going,” said Saam. Since the layout of the school will be quite different, safety measures are important to keep in mind.

The town of Naugatuck prides itself on its colorful history. For someone who knows a lot about the town, the current names for the wings of the high school would seem obvious. To one who is unfamiliar with the town’s history, however, the names might seem obscure. Judd, Castle and Goodyear were named after three major contributors to the school’s existence.

During the American Revolutionary War, Chauncey Judd was kidnapped by a group of Tories, American supporters of the British monarchy, on March 15, 1780. He was held hostage for five days and almost died, based on several accounts. He eventually was rescued. Israel P. Warren told Judd’s experience in his historical piece titled The Boy Stolen (available online here or as a Kindle eBook for free at the Oxford Historical Society).

School in Lewiston

School in Lewiston where Tabitha Castle taught.

Castle wing is named after a teacher from the late 1700s named Tabitha, or Tabby, Castle. Tabitha taught in one of the first schoolhouses in the Salem Bridge area near Scott’s Woods (now Scott Street). Her school was in the Lewiston district was one of the first school districts in Salem Bridge (which is now Naugatuck). Castle taught many of the town’s most significant contributors, including the children of the Hoadley family, the Lewis family, the Scott family and the Woodruff family – just to name a few. She is also one of the first teachers in this area. A great account of Tabitha’s career as well as many others are captured in William Ward’s The Early Schools of Naugatuck. (A free eBook download and web copy is found at Google Play Books).

Chauncey Judd's Gravestone

Chauncey Judd’s Gravestone

The final named wing is named after Amasa Goodyear, the father of the famous Charles Goodyear, who was the man who vulcanized rubber. Amasa, however, made the first pewter buttons in the United States and managed a factory on Fulling Mill Brook to produce them. He and the rest of the Goodyear family contributed a lot to Naugatuck, including basing their operations here for decades and providing jobs and a stable economy for the borough. The school wing was named after him because he donated the land to build a school on School Street. This building was later torn down.

Saam also added that she has been “mindful of collecting the history” of the school in order to hopefully create a historical case as soon as one enters the new front doors. Though this will not be finished for two or more years, Saam enthusiastically said that she has already “started the collection” by asking teachers who have been at the school for 30+ years to contribute to the history hallway that will be located in what will be the “South” wing. Another idea that Saam has been contemplating is a “Wall of Honor” in order to highlight Naugatuck High School alumni who have graduated and achieved great success.

 

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