Oakwood Friends School
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|Oakwood Friends School|
|School type||Boarding & Day|
|Head of school||Charles Cianfrani|
|Average class size||15|
|Student to teacher ratio||1:8|
|School color(s)||Orange & Green|
|Accreditation||New York Yearly Meeting|
Oakwood Friends School is a college preparatory school located at 22 Spackenkill Road in Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1796, it was the first college preparatory school in the state of New York. First located in Millbrook, New York under the name of Nine Partners Boarding School.
Nine Partners School
In 1794, the New York Yearly Meeting appointed a committee of twenty-five to establish a school; their first meeting was on January 13, 1795. On May 1 of that year the New York Yearly Meeting purchased a house and ten acres from Joseph Mabbet, a Quaker from Connecticut, for 1600 pounds, a down payment of 214 pounds was made from the donors: Tripp Mosher, Isaac Thorn, William Thorn, Joseph Talcott, Shadrach Richetson and Jonathan Deuel. With plans of opening a school for the children of nearby Quaker families, it opened on December 20, 1796, and was given the name, Nine Partners School in Mechanic which is now in South Millbrook, New York. By founding the school it made it the state’s first co-educational boarding and day school. The school’s first superintendent was R. Tripp Mosher and its first principal was Jonathan Talcott, a children’s book publisher. The school had a total of one hundred students: 70 boys and 30 girls. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen years old for girls and up to age fifteen for boys. A teacher at the school was Jacob Willets  who was one of the first pupils its opening day of the school, became the head teacher in 1806 and taught until 1828. He was the author of an arithmetic, geography and an atlas, textbooks which were highly recommended and extensively used throughout the academic day. He and his wife Deborah, who was also a former pupil, and became teacher of grammar and mathematics, were head teachers together and contributed to the success during the early years of the school’s opening. Another teacher and former pupil, was Lucretia Coffin Mott who entered the school at age thirteen in 1806 and graduated in 1810. While there, she met teacher James Mott, son of one of the founders, whom she married in 1811. Lucretia later led abolition and women’s suffrage campaigns as well as working as a teaching assistant. Around that same era, a notable student of the school was Daniel Anthony, who would one day become the father of Susan B. Anthony, another famed early pioneer of women’s suffrage.
Friends Academy and Oakwood Seminary
In 1853, the school and its land was sold to a private party who kept it until 1863. In 1857 the New York Yearly Meeting was eager to open a boarding school in Union Springs which was in central New York. Later that year on September 1 a property southwest of the town of Auburn was purchased for $9,842. The first day of classes was May 11, 1858 with grades 1-12 with only four boarders and twenty day students. Changing its name that year to Friends Academy. On March 23, 1876, the school officially changed its name to Oakwood Seminary, the name was adopted after the large oak grove on the grounds. The school taught regular classes with extra class optional for an extra cost, such as commercial, literary and science courses and by 1896 a biblical course was established. Around the same time the school dropped its lower grades and offered grades 8-12 for both boarding and day students, over the age of twelve years.
In the 1890s, the school dropped the lower grades and only offered grades 8-12 for both boarders and day students; only requirement was that all students be over 12 years old. In 1915, English teacher Eliezer Pattington was acting head of school while they searched for a permanent head of school. In 1916, William J. Reagan was appointed Principal of the school consisting of sixty-one students. However his first months were not easy, on January 2, 1917, a fire damaged a small portion of the upper levels of the main building, so much so that the board needed to consider the school’s future.
In 1918, the board decided that with the damage of the fire and the declining population of Quakers in the Union Springs area, they were to relocate the school. The final graduating class was in 1920, and that September the school moved to the 75-acre Coleman Farm in Poughkeepsie, New York. Its first day of operation was on September 28, 1920, with a total of one hundred and twelve students from grades 1-12, in total about 58 were Quaker. Although proper buildings were not ready on its opening day, the school made due and quickly reorganized to comply with the regulations of New York State.
The large race horse stables were converted into the main building, with the upper floors as the girls dormitory, the stairs between the floors were yet to be built, with wooden ramps for the first months of school, as well as the doors had no knobs. The Meeting Room, as it is now known, was called the Assembly room and was nearly completed the first year of school in 1920 until it was released that the room violated a building code which caused them to drop the floor several inches, explaining why the windows are up so high. The Assembly Room was redone in 1965 and renamed to the Meeting Room and benches were constructed. It wasn't until 1994 when the Meeting Room was remodeled with carpet and laminate flooring.
In the summer of 1920 a two story structure began to be built, but the school did not have the funds to complete it so they used two army barracks from the first World War and attached them to both sides of the preexisting building; described here in a 1921 article of the Oakwood Bulletin: “As temporary quarters for boys, two army barracks have been secured and are to be joined to a permanent, bell-built center. This will contain boys’ dormitories, apartments for teachers, and a large reading room for the boys, in addition to toilets, showers and lavatories.” The two army barracks were transported to the campus by train from Massachusetts, the school purchased them directly from the US Government.
The first building built during the schools operation was Lane Auditorium, began in March 1923 it was announced then that the building would be named for Aaron H. Lane, the president of the board of managers. The building was completed in the autumn of 1924 but the school could not afford both plumbing and electricity in the building at that time, they installed electricity and plumbing was installed in 1927. The building last served as a gym in 1959 when it was converted into what they called, "Fine Arts and Student Recreation Center," the named quickly changed back to the Aaron H. Lane Auditorium and was used only as a theater thereafter.
The campus began to grow in the coming years, in 1927 a faculty cottage was built on the north side of the dining hall, the building also served as the infirmary. In 1928 the Gulley House was purchased and called Henderson Cottage which also housed students. That same year the cottage later known as Craig Cottage was given to the school and the Assistant Principal, Ruth Craig, moved in the following year; Craig Cottage also house students. Also in 1928 the first seven grades of the school were discontinued leaving only the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades. In 1929 the boy’s dormitory called “The Boys Barracks” was renovated and two wings replaced the old army barracks, the building could house sixty-four boys and all single male teachers. Also that year, the Wallace Dempster Williams Library was established, it opened in early 1930 in the Main Building. The year 1930 also marked one decade since the school had moved to Poughkeepsie and the school still had so much to be done – that year cement pathways were constructed and also that year the school discontinued the front hay field and mowed it down to construct athletic fields. Despite the school having purchased their campus from a farm, they still maintained the farm and in 1931 had: “six cows producing 75 qts milk per day, ten pigs, sixteen head of sheep and twelve lambs,” the pigs and lambs were cared for by students and sold at the end of each year. Also that year the school began farming potatoes. In 1933 the school made a decision that created controversy between faculty, students, parents of students, and alumni alike yet the headmaster William Reagan was all in favor and actually made great strives to accept the school’s first African American student, enrolled as an eighth grader he went on to graduate in 1938. In 1934 the board of managers approved a petition put together by students to allow dances on campus, also that year rows of maple trees were planted near the dining hall. The hurricane of 1938 toppled the shallow-rooted poplar trees that lined the main drive to the main building, board of managers president, John I. Lane donated broad-rooted Schwedler maples to be planted in their place. Twenty years after the move to Poughkeepsie the school underwent a major renovation that changed mostly the exterior of the main building, also that year the school store called “The Dug-Out” was built in the basement of the building. 
The Oakwood Song
Near the Hudson sparkling waters
Stands a place we all know well,
Which in all the coming future
Will forever with us dwell.
And when life's hard battle's ended,
And the years to dust have rolled,
We will still recall with reverence
Oakwood's purple and old gold.
Through the many years we dwelt here,
Happy years most free from care,
With Oakwood as our mother
All our trials and griefs to share.
How we mourn when we must leave thee,
Our affections thou dost hold -
O beloved Alma Mater
Of the purple and the gold.
May the years deal gently with thee
O Alma Mater dear.
May the days of joy and gladness
Multiply from year to year,
And our love for thee, so tender
Never once, not once turn cold
As we think of thee, dear Oakwood,
And the purple and old gold.
Written in 1904-5 by Margaret Lyttle, revised in 1912 and 1922. 
|Soccer||V, JV, MS||Fall||Boys, Girls|
|Basketball||V, JV, MS||Winter||Boys, Girls|
|Ultimate Frisbee||V, JV||Spring||Co-ed|
- Lucretia Coffin Mott, abolitionist, attended from 1806-1809 
- Eliza Maria Mosher, physician, educator,founder of the American Posture League and professor of Physiology at Vassar College, class of 1862 
- Charles E. Courtney, professional rower and rowing captain at Cornell University from 1883-1920, Class of 1867
- Ethelwyn Wetherald, journalist and poet, class of 1875
- George Aaron Barton, author and clergyman, class of 1879 
- Frank L. Young, New York State Assemblyman and a Justice of the Supreme Court, class of 1882
- Robert Yarnall Richie, photographer and filmmaker, class of 1926
- Clark Poling, protestant chaplin on troop transport Dorchester, class of 1929
- Mark Strand, poet, class of 1952
- Patricia Walker-Shaw, first female President of the Universal Life Insurance Company, 1983-1985, class of 1956
- Jonathan Talbot, artist, class of 1957 
- Steven Vogel, bio-mechanics researcher and former professor at Duke University, class of 1957 
- Hugo F. Sonnenschein, economist and former president at University of Chicago, class of 1957 
- Bonnie Raitt, singer-songwriter, class of 1967
- Juan Williams, journalist, class of 1972
- Annie Finch, American poet and author, class of 1974 
- Keith Bunin, playwright, class of 1989 
- Joshua E. S. Phillips, author, class of 1990 
Notable former faculty members
- Jonathan Clark Rogers, President at the University of Georgia from 1949-1950, taught from 1907-1911 
- Goold Brown, grammarian, taught from 1811-1813 
- Lindley Murray Moore, educator, abolitionist and Principal at Haverford College, taught from 1808-1812
- Rufus Jones, writer, philosopher, and social reformer, taught from 1886-1887
- William J. Beal, teacher of Natural Sciences, botanist, professor of botany at Michigan Agricultural College, taught from 1858-1861
- James Mott, anti-slavery activist, taught from 1808-1811
List of headmasters
- Joseph Talcott, 1796-1803
- Jacob Willets, 1803-1828
- Benjamin and Mary Griffin, 1828-1844
- Jarvis and Lydia Congdon, 1844-1858
- Ezra and Jane Willets, 1858-1859
- Fowell B. Hill, 1859-1860
- William J. Beal, 1860-1862
- Egbert and Martha Carey, 1862-1863
- Thomas and Mary Burgess, 1863-1864
- Frank S. Hall, 1864-1866
- Henry K. Pinkham, 1866-1867
- George Sisson, 1867-1868
- Jacob and Lucy Vining, 1868-1869
- Elijah Cook, 1869-1889
- Charles H. Jones, 1889-1894
- Isaac Sutton, 1894-1897
- Elijah Cook, 1897-1898
- Jonathan Dickinson, 1898-1899
- Leslie A. Bailey, 1899-1900
- Thomas H. Chase, 1900-1901
- Francis N. Maxfield, 1901-1903
- Samuel H. Hodgin, 1903-1905
- Walter Hallock Wood, 1905-1915
- Eliezer Partington, 1915-1916
- William J. Reagan, 1916-1948
- Joesph B. Shane, 1948-1950
- William W. Clark, 1950-1956
- Charles W. Hutton, 1956-1962
- Thomas Purdy, 1962-1968
- John J. Jennings, 1968-1973
- David L. Bourns, 1973-1979
- Theodore Lehmann, 1979-1980
- Clark McK. Simms, 1980-1988
- Robert R. Coombs, 1988-1991
- Stephen Waters, 1991-1993
- Lila A. Gordon, 1993-2000
- Peter F. Bailey, 2000-2015
- Charles Cianfrani, 2015-
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