The construction of Corinth’s first public high school was the result of the rapid expansion of the Hudson River Pulp and Paper Company in the 1880’s that brought new workers and their families to the community. A three-story brick high school overlooking Palmer Avenue - with its expansive views of the Hudson River - was constructed in 1890. Warren Curtis, Superintendent of Hudson River Pulp and Paper, became the first Chairman of the Board of Education of the Corinth Union Free School District.
A proposal to build a larger high school was first made in 1917. After voters rejected five separate bond issues over a sixteen-year period, a new high school was finally built on Oak Street in 1936. In the same period, the growing number of students being sent to Corinth schools from outlying areas resulted in a call for the formation of a central school district. The creation of the district finally occurred in 1953, at a time when the post-World War II “baby boom” also produced the need for more elementary school space. In 1957 a new elementary school for grades 2-6 was built on Oak Street, adjacent and connected to the high school built in 1936. The first brick high school built in 1890 was demolished to make room for the high school gymnasium that now overlooks Palmer Avenue.
Holland’s photographs reveal the transition in school buildings that occurred during the 1950’s. The original front doors from the 1936 high school – which were later bricked in - can be seen in one photograph, as well as the basement cafeteria where students ate their lunches before a cafeteria was built in the elementary school in 1957 to service all Oak Street students. One image shows the auditorium in the 1936 high school serving also as the gymnasium. Other Holland images document the high school after renovations were made in the 1950’s.
Schools serve as a major socialization agent in societies that both shape and reflect cultural norms and values. Holland’s photographs reveal patterns of behavior and cultural patterns in clothing, social activities, sports, and teaching that were common during the era. Gender patterns consistent with the period are also evident in the images of the gym classes held in the auditorium, athletic teams and their cheerleaders, and in the school cafeteria. The photograph of Corinth’s new teachers for the 1959 school year reveals a similar gendered practice with women in the front row and men in the back.
George Holland regularly photographed students, teachers and the activities of Corinth’s public schools. He documented the ritual events of each school year: the arrival of new teachers, seasonal athletic events, award ceremonies, school plays, the junior prom, and high school graduation. Students could see images of themselves each month in the EMBA News, and parents could point with pride to photographs of their children actively engaged in high school life.
Holland’s photographs of Corinth’s school age children served as an important barometer of the community’s commitment to its young people, but their publication in the EMBA News also reinforced the positive, pro-family image of International Paper Company in the local community. Collectively these photographs reaffirm the extent to which International Paper was a central institution in the community that was integrally connected to the public school system.