BURNT HILLS: BH-BL time travelers

Lost red Keds high-top sneakers, charred timbers that stood the test of time, a grandfather clock that kept on ticking and construction proposals that barely passed the cost-conscious public are some of the milestones that define the creation and growth of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District.

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, town of Ballston historian and high school history teacher Rick Reynolds donned two hats one a Revolutionary War-era three-cornered hat to give the Magical History Tour, an energetic bus tour of all five school locations to adult scholars. They included the district superintendent, Jim Schultz, board of education members, new teachers and staff members.

Reynolds took on the persona of Samuel Meredith, his great-great-great-great-grandfather who was a presidential staffer under Thomas Jefferson.

"It's a history teacher's dream to be related to someone famous," said Reynolds, who wore a heavy vest and starched wig during the two-hour tour.

Before the thoroughfare

The district's colorful history began with one-room schoolhouses, one still standing on Middleline Road off Route 50. The tiny, window-overloaded shed is now a storage garage for the homeowners next door.

"Early on, there were 15 to 20 one-room school houses," said Reynolds. "This all changed in 1803 when the prestigious Ballston Academy opened on Kingsbury Road."

The boarding school was the place for the early education of children who would go on to be college presidents, state senators and leaders in their communities.

The old adage, "when I was a kid, I walked a mile in the snow to get to school" rang true for children during this time.

"My students today ask, what about snow days? I tell them, there were no snow days," said Reynolds. "This is a great example of the generation gap."

In the early 20th century, the district's smattering of schools soon dealt with what would become a consistent theme in the town's history: overcrowding.

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