gmhTODAY 10 gmhToday Sept Oct 2016 - Page 70

Gilroy First Public School Written By Elizabeth Barratt “The general expression of the scholars was animated and pleasant… we did not find what might be called a stupid expression among them.” Gilroy Advocate Editor, 1871 Clara Ousley with students in 1894. 70 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Bertie Benn SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 G ilroy’s first school was not established inside city limits but in a one-room wooden building east of town located on the Hildebrand Ranch. This earliest school started in 1853 with a class of four students. Kentucky native William R. Bane (1818-1893), who opened the school and served as its first teacher, was a Mexican War veteran. Bane initially came to California in 1848, settling in Gilroy in 1850. He owned a ranch near Old Gilroy and served as a school trustee, a member of the High School Board and as a City Councilman (1878-1880). According to a museum booklet titled “Gilroy School History-1853 to 1888,” Gilroy’s first permanent public Grammar School in town was established in 1854. The one-story building was constructed on the south- west corner of a large schoolyard that stretched along Third Street between Church and Rosanna Streets. In time, the property held both the elementary and high schools. The grammar school was touted as “An institution second to none in the state, its results most satisfactory– a large proportion of teachers from its classes–the pride of the citizens,” according to the historical brochure. For further frills, the description also noted that Gilroy’s public school system thrived in a community it dubbed “The Queen of South Santa Clara Valley.” Becoming a teacher was no easy task in Gilroy’s early days. Besides a strong