200 years of history

The Albany Academies is gearing up to celebrate its 200th anniversary, and those close to the school have a pretty large vision of how to do it.

Currently, a group of four co-chairs are creating a steering committee that will help plan and guide the celebration of the school's bicentennial. There will be four different committees that will take care of different aspects such as promotion, planning the gala, doing an overview of the school's history and planning school events.

John McClintock, who graduated from the Academies in 1957 and was a former faculty member, currently acts as the Academies' archivist. He said he has written several documents about the history of the school and said this year's 18-month celebration has a lot to live up to.

In the past, the school has held pageants where people portrayed figures such as Mayor John Boyd Thacher and Mayor Phillip S. Van Rennselaer, who was mayor when the Albany Academies was founded. McClintock said there is some discussion as to whether that will be done again for this year.

For the 125th anniversary during the 1938-39 school year, McClintock said the boys of the school put on a pageant that filled the Washington Avenue Armory with 4,000 people from the city, alumni and the general public.

He said a lot of the history is closely tied to the City of Albany and the greater Capital District since the institution first opened its doors in 1814. The boys school was chartered in 1813 but did not open until 1815. For the girls, they founded, built and opened that school all in 1814.

As a city academy, there were no public schools at that time, he said. "This was it for the city as a secondary school."

The Albany Academies also played a role in supporting a woman's right to education. McClintock said the girl's academy didn't get chartered until 1821 when they decided they didn't want to just learn about reading, writing and sewing. They then created one of the first Alumnae Associations in the world, according to McClintock.

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