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April 9, 2012

Simonson: April 1952 brought educational developments in Oneonta

There were some interesting new developments in education in Oneonta during the month of April 1952. These took place in the public and private schools, as well as on the Hartwick College campus.

It was reported Wednesday, April 2, that the State University of New York authorized the addition of a ninth grade at the Percy I. Bugbee School, the campus school of what was then called the Oneonta State Teachers College.

For several years some parents had been asking for a ninth grade, so beginning that month, Bugbee administrators held meetings so all parents and students could discuss whether or not to add the ninth grade.

The meetings drew plenty of support, and the ninth grade began in September.

Before this, Bugbee students went to Oneonta Junior High School on Academy Street after eighth grade, and then to Oneonta High School, next door.

The ninth grade at Bugbee existed until the campus school closed for good in 1975.

New Radio station

A new radio station, by and for Hartwick College students, made its debut April 1, 1952.

"The new station is called WJCH, the last three letters being the initials of John Christopher Hartwick, who founded the original Hartwick Seminary, a branch of which later became Hartwick College," The Oneonta Star reported. It was the creation of the college's Dramatic Club.

The station couldn't be heard by Oneonta residents, as the operation was designed to train students in the techniques of radio writing, acting and broadcasting.

Students used an old public address machine, with a microphone attached as the broadcasts came from the student newspaper office.

A two-hour daily broadcast was "piped" into the student lounge.

It was hoped at the time that this would become a real radio station, once permission was granted from the Federal Communications Commission.

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