The First 100 Years
In March, 1852, the village council of Paris humbly petitioned the government of Upper Canada for the establishment of a grammar school. The government approved the petition, and appointed a board of trustees. Three months later, the trustees engaged Mr. S. Lightburne, M.A. as principal; and they announced in the Paris Star that the new school would open on Wednesday, September 15, and that the "course of instruction will comprise the greek and Latin languages, Mathematics, and the usual branches of an English Education."
Since the trustees had no money with which to build a school-room, they rented the village hall. There, on September 15, twenty boys assembled to study under Mr. Lightburne. These boys made up the first student-body of our school.
In 1854, Mr. Lightburne moved his pupils to a room in the newly built town hall. After teaching there for a year, he resigned. His successor, the Reverend P. D. Muir, lasted only one month. While he was in charge, the pupils were "disorderly and riotous," and "broke windows not only in the hall itself but also in nearby buildings"; and when he was dismissed, "he preferred a complaint against certain parties among his scholars, who had caused great annoyance to this school."
His successor, Mr. Thomas D. Phillips, was evidently unable to cope with the annoyances: in 1856, he resigned. Shortly afterwards, the town councillors "intimated that as they required for their own use the room in the town hall," the scholars had better move to the upper room of an empty house on Dumfries Street. The scholars moved, and used the upper room for 2 years.
Early in 1858, Mr. john W. Acres was appointed principal. One of his first pupils wrote the following impression of the new pedagogue:
"We're all in our seats, looking as studious and innocent as possible, when the dapper little gentleman quickly stepped up the little stairs leading to the school room, saluted us with 'Good morning, pupils!', and we felt that our master was with us."
The new master remained with the school for FORTY YEARS!
In 1858, Mr. Acres and his thirty boys moved from the house on Dunfries Street to the lower floor of the newly built Union School - later known as the Old High School, and later still as the Queen's Ward School. For sixty-six years - from 1858 to 1924- this was the home of our predecessors.
At first girls were not admitted to the grammar school. But in 1860, a few were admitted on condition that they did not study Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. Mr. Acres and his lads keenly resented this intrusion. Girls, they believed, should stick to their embroidering, tatting, and knitting.
In 1871, a provincial act changed the name of the school from the Paris Grammar School to the Paris High School. And a year or so later, a science lab (equipped with two or three pieces of "philosophical and chemical apparatus", which the pupils were not allowed to touch) was established, and a science teacher was engaged. There were now two teachers and about fifty pupils. A few years later, a third teacher was added to the staff.
In 1887, after forty years of teaching in Paris, Mr. Acres resigned. During his last ten years as principal, he was affectionately know as "Daddy Acres."
Dr. Walter Bell was appointed principal in 1898. He was a classical scholar and an authority on the educational history of Ontario; and he established traditions of scholarship in Paris High School. When he died during the school term of 1921-1922, the town felt that it had suffered and untimely loss.
Between 1908 and 1922, the number of pupils rose from 97 to 148. This increase made necessary the building of a new school. In 1923, with due pomp and ceremony, the corner stone of the central part of the present building was laid; and in the spring of 1924, the pupils moved from the old building to the new.
In 1925, Mr. C. Ward Butcher, B.A., was appointed principal. At this time there were six staff members and 160 pupils. Mr. Butcher, in addition to maintaining the high standards established by Dr. Bell, re-organized the Athletic Associations and the Literary Society, established the basis for the present system of awarding scholarships, medals, and the Letter"P", and initiated the publishing of a year book. When he retired in 1948, it was evident that his influence would continue to make itself felt for many years to come.
In January of 1951, the Paris District High School Board was formed, and the name of the school was changed to the Paris District High School. Dr. F. H. Jeffery, whose vision and determination had been very important in persuading the rate-payers of the area to approve the idea of a district school, was elected as the first chairman.
On April 7, 1952, the roar of a bulldozer and the terrific clatter of a pneumatic hammer shook the classrooms and almost deafened the teachers and pupils. Workmen from the Schultz Construction Co. were knocking down the brick porch at the north entrance, thereby announcing the first step in the building program. Five months later in September of 1952, the one hundred and first student body of our school entered the dusty classrooms. As its members watched the workmen, and listened to the endless noise of tools, they must have felt- like the twenty boys who assembled in the village hall a hundred years before- that they had entered not only a new century in the history of our school, but also a new era.
The Grand Erie District School Board has a zero tolerance policy toward all forms of harassment. The Board is committed to providing a working and learning environment that is free of harassment, which supports productivity and the personal goals of dignity and self-esteem of every individual.
The Board expects all students, staff and visitors to behave in a respectful, courteous and appropriate manner at all times. The Board will respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior in a manner consistent with the Board Policy, Procedure on Harassment.