Shaker High to celebrate 50 years

On Sunday, Nov. 9, Shaker High School will celebrate a rather important anniversary. Fifty years ago on that day, the new high school was dedicated.

As family and friends plan to gather to celebrate 50 years of education, memories and high school moments, those who were there at the beginning are recounting what Shaker High School was like all those years ago.

Director of Library Audio Visual and Gifted Services Joyce Horsman was one of the first employees of Shaker High School when it first opened its doors in September 1958. According to Horsman, then, as well as now, the dream for Shaker High School was that it be both innovative and creative.

And that's exactly what we were, she said.

Horsman said the school started out as a Junior-Senior High School, supporting grades seven through 12, and there were about 1,000 students at the time, who came from secondary schools across the Capital District, including Milne School in Albany, as well as other schools in Albany, Watervliet and Troy.

Horseman recounted memories of then-Supervising Principal Edgar Pitkin.

She told Spotlight Newspapers, "He set very high standards for students."

Horsman said, aside from his high standards for students' academic excellence, Pitkin would walk the halls, making sure every boy had a belt on.

If they did not, they were either sent home, or were given a makeshift belt, which was a piece of string. He kept a ball of string in his office for instances like this.

Girls were not permitted to wear low-cut tops, and though he did not walk around with a ruler, skirts needed to be a certain length.

Horsman said Pitkin did not do this to be a bully. He monitored students' appearance because he wanted them to be representative of the good moral beings the school was helping them become. Shaker High School was his pride and joy.

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