Battin High School
Battin High School was a public high school in Elizabeth, in Union County, New Jersey, United States, which operated as part of the Elizabeth Public Schools. The school opened in 1889 as a coeducational institution. After converting to a girls-only school in 1929, it operated on a single-sex basis for 48 years until the end of the 1976–77 school year, ending its status as one half of the state's only pair of public high schools operated separately for male and female students.
The high school dates back to 1889, when it was opened at 300 South Broad Street in a mansion that had been donated to the city that same year by Joseph Battin, president of the Elizabethtown Water Company, and namesake of the school. A building was constructed on the site in 1913.
Originally operated on a coeducational basis, the school became female only starting in 1929, after Thomas Jefferson High School was constructed and dedicated to serve male students. In 1977, district officials stated that the inability to determine attendance zones for the two comprehensive high schools after Thomas Jefferson High School opened in 1929 combined with the expansive shop facilities in the new building, led the district to decide to split students by sex, with girls at Battin and boys at Thomas Jefferson.
On January 22, 1952, a Convair 240 operated as American Airlines Flight 6780 was flying on a route initiating in Buffalo, New York on final approach to runway 6 at Newark Airport in heavy fog conditions and crashed at 3:45 p.m., narrowly missing the high school. All 23 on board the plane (20 passengers and 3 crew) and an additional 8 people on the ground, were killed in the crash and ensuing fire, though the plane never hit the school building, as some earlier reports had indicated, and there were no students in the building at the time of the crash.
By 1972, the school was the only public high school in New Jersey operated exclusively for women, despite coeducational programs at both Princeton University and Vassar College. By that time, a policy under which pregnant students had been required to withdraw from school had been eliminated and students were allowed to return to school after giving birth and attending a special off-site program during their pregnancy. Though 40% of graduating students went on to college and district officials insisted that the curriculum was standard across the district's separate high schools, a student criticized the difference in expectations of male and female students, noting that "Boys are expected to be engineers and attorneys. Girls are supposed to be secretaries and mothers."
The school closed at the end of the 1976–77 school year, after the Elizabeth High School complex was completed and all of the district's students, male and female, were accommodated at the new four-building facility, ending the city's status as "the only community in the state with separate public high schools for boys and girls". The $29.3 million project included renovations to Thomas Jefferson High School, which was integrated into the new complex. The Battin High School building, together with the four existing junior high schools, was repurposed as a middle school for grades six through eight.
- Judy Blume (born 1938; class of 1956), author whose novels for children and young adults have exceeded sales of 80 million.
- James P. Mitchell (1900–1964; class of 1917), politician who served as United States Secretary of Labor from 1953 to 1961 during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
- Fay Gillis Wells (1908–2002), aviator, journalist and broadcaster.
- Staff. The City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated: Showing Its Leading Characteristics: Its Attractions as a Place of Residence, and Its Unsurpassed Advantages as a Location for Manufacturing Industries, pp. 102-103. Elizabeth Daily Journal, 1889. Accessed May 29, 2015.
- Hatala, Greg. "Glimpse of History: When Battin was co-ed", The Star-Ledger, June 11, 2012. Accessed March 16, 2015. "According to research by Kristin Kulick, director of special projects for the Elizabeth Board of Education, the academic year 1976-77 was the last year male and female students attended classes separately."
- Elizabeth Through The Ages, Visit Historical Elizabeth, NJ. Accessed May 29, 2015. "1913 Opera House opens and later becomes Gordon's Liberty Theater (HB); Battin High School is built on site of local mansion that first housed the school."
- Horowitz, Ben. "Elizabeth Awaits Coed High School", The New York Times, July 10, 1977. Accessed March 16, 2015. "ELIZABETH'S 48-year role as the only community in the state with separate public high schools for boys and girls will end in September with the opening of a new four-building complex at the corner of South Pearl and South Streets."
- Staff. "PLANE FALLS IN ELIZABETH, 31 DIE, 8 OF THEM IN 3 HOMES SET ON FIRE; EX-SECRETARY PATTERSON A VICTIM; ALL ABOARD PERISH Craft From Buffalo Was on a Radar Approach to Newark Airport BUILDINGS BURN QUICKLY ' Gas' Tanks Explode on Impact – Pilot's Wife Hears Crash in Her Home, Near Scene", The New York Times, January 23, 1952. Accessed March 16, 2015. "ELIZABETH, N. J., Jan. 22 – Former Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson and at least thirty other persons died at 3:45 P. M. today when an American Airlines Convair crashed at South and Williamson Streets in the South Elizabeth residential district.... In the last moment of its descent, the Convair came close to Battin High School and the report spread that it had hit the building with almost 1,000 girl students in it. Actually, the plane never touched the high school, and all students were out of it at 3:45 P. M."
- Bloom, Kathryn Ruth. "Battin High in Elizabeth, the only All-Girl Public School", The New York Times, September 24, 1972. Accessed March 16, 2015. "ELIZABETH – With women having invaded Princeton and Vassar a coed college, the days of the single-sex school might seem to be over. They're not, though, for the girls at Battin High, one of three public high schools in this industrial city; the girls are students at New Jersey's only public all-girl high school."
- Tracy, Kathleen. Judy Blume: A Biography, p. 13. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008. ISBN 9780313342721. Accessed March 16, 2015. "Judy graduated from Battin High School with honors at the top of her class and enrolled at Boston University."
- Staff. "James P. Mitchell Is Dead at 63", The New York Times, October 20, 1964. Accessed March 16, 2015. "After his graduation from Battin High School in 1917, Mr. Mitchell went to work in a grocery store after failing to win an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis."
- Staff. "Fay Gillis Wells, 94, Aviator, journalist.", The Washington Times, December 10, 2002. Accessed March 16, 2015. "Born in Minneapolis, she grew up in various towns in the United States and Canada following her father, Julius H. Gillis, who was a mining engineer. She graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, N.J., in 1925 and attended Michigan State University."