Glenwood turns 50

By Ashley Luthern


In the 1950s, maple trees lined Market Street, and farmers using horse-and-wagon transportation could still be seen on the two-lane highway to Youngstown.

Just as quietly as traffic as moved along the street, a population explosion began. Some have said the watershed moment of the boom was the construction of Boardman Glenwood Middle School, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this school year.

The school, originally called Boardman Junior High School, was completed in 1961 and cost $2.35 million paid for by a bond issue, according to “That’s the Way It Was,” a book about township history.

Boardman Junior High School housed seventh- and eighth-grade students on a former Glenwood Avenue potato farm.

“In the 1950s, the four elementary schools were built, which were for the baby boomers. We had to do something about it,” said John Harr, who worked in the school district for 41 years. He was director of transportation and later became assistant superintendent.

But seventh- through 12th-graders still were taught at Center Middle School, and soon administrators realized there was a crowding problem.

“You had sets of stairs for those going up and for those going down, and you let the crowd carry you along,” said Ed Lugibihl, who taught geography and became Glenwood’s first assistant principal in 1967.

Harr and Lugibihl were on a committee that visited at least six school systems to see how other junior-high schools were organized. They knew they wanted a corridor for classrooms with guidance offices and then the gym, band room, chorus room and auditorium in other wings of the school.

When the school opened, “everyone was excited. The kids finally had their own building,” Lugibihl said.

In the late 1950s, the average class size at Center Middle School was 50 children. When Boardman Junior High School opened, that number dropped to about 40.

When the current high school was built, Glenwood Middle School and Center Middle School each contained grades five through eight.

Superintendent Irving J. Nisonger led the district through the completion of every public school building in Boardman during his tenure, which stretched from the 1940s to the 1970s.

“I.J. was responsible for the growth of Boardman schools,” Lugibihl said.

The most noticeable physical change at Glenwood Middle School is the absence of wall-to-wall windows at the front of the building.

“The goal was to make the building more energy- efficient,” said Anthony Alvino, who has been Glenwood’s principal since 1988.

Alvino also said the student population has changed “drastically.” An increase in the special- education population led to the addition of four rooms to the school in the early 1990s. There are now about 65 special-education students at Glenwood and six special-education teachers.

“Boardman is certainly more diverse, being such a large district. It reflects how our community population has changed,” Alvino said.

Unlike the 1961 classroom size of 40 students, Glenwood now averages about 21 students per classroom. Seven hundred students are enrolled at the middle school this year.

In the last five years, the number of students throughout the district has slightly decreased from 4,800 to 4,650.

“We’re holding our own,” said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.

Changes in the curriculum also are apparent.

“We got rid of mechanical drawing, industrial arts and home economics and replaced them with computer courses,” Alvino said.

New this year to school is the team-teaching model. A team is composed of four teachers who have one of the core subjects (English, math, social studies and science) and shares the same 80 students. There are two teams per grade level.

“The teachers can plan their schedules together, so if they study Greek history in social studies, then their English teacher might decide to teach Greek poetry during the same week,” Alvino said.

Both Alvino and Lazzeri credit the longevity of the middle schools — Center Middle School dating to 1911 and Glenwood to 1961 — to the maintenance staff, teachers and students.

“We have prided ourselves on the care and upkeep of our buildings,” Lazzeri said.

“Glenwood was well-built in 1961, and the fact that it looks this good is a tribute to those who were in charge then and the respect our students have for it,” he said.