We’ve Come A Long Way

By Paul Duncan, Assistant Principal for Curriculum
North Miami Senior High 1951-1983
From the 30th anniversary section of the Conestoga 1982 yearbook, p.69

It all began more than a quarter century and almost three decades ago. People called this school Edward L. Constance Junior-Senior High School then. There was no bridge at [NE] 135th Street when I first arrived at this school using the bridge at [NE] 125th Street.

This school was quite different for the western end of the building met the end of the 300 wing at the physical education field. The 400 and 500 wings hadn’t been built yet. The teachers’ lounge then is the Language Arts office now. Can you imagine? There was no gymnasium and instead of an auditorium, six portable classrooms stood in the sand dunes.

Pioneersville has come a long way since the early fifties. The school opened without window panes and students had to walk on wooden planks in rain flooded halls. In those days, when you said the school was located at 800 NE 137th Street, people wondered if that address was out in the country or somewhere near Broward County. Schools like Hialeah and [Miami-] Norland [Senior] High were not yet built; so students from those areas faced a long bus ride each morning and afternoon to attend our school.

Our school remained overcrowded until Hialeah and Norland were built. This over population necessitated the three-shift experiment, which had seniors arriving at 7:20 am, juniors at 8:20 and sophomores at 9:20. Large auditorium “TV” classes of 500 students a period helped relieve the bulge at the peak hours of the school day.

In 1964, desegregation began at North Miami High and soon the boundaries of our school population changed. Younger members of Pioneer families residing on the “west side” [of the old North Miami attendance area] began attending Miami Central [Senior High School]. Enrollment here began to reduce from a peak of 3850 to that of 2100 today [1982]. Last fall, hundred[s] of ’old time’ graduates attended reunions from the classes of ’56, ‘61 and ’71.

Thousands of Pioneer graduates have passed through these portals in the last thirty years. Many of our grads went on to higher institutions of learning to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and what-have-you in professional fields. Others served our country in the armed forces while many became successful business owners and productive members of society.

The main goal of the North Miami Senior High School faculty was, and still is, to produce better Americans. Unquestionable evidence shows this goal has been achieved!

Have memories of Mr. Duncan? The School? Fel free to share them here by leaving a comment.

6 Responses to “We’ve Come A Long Way”

  1. Larry Hunt says:

    I don’t think Duncan was assistant principal for curriculum, as you say. he was the dean. Kinda like a bad cop. he was not a nice person. He really didn’t like me, because my hair was longer than he liked. He did help to get us ready for the ‘real’ world, as the ‘real’ world is full of jerks.

  2. Larry Hunt says:

    I looked in the yearbook (1971). Duncan was ass. Principal of Administration.

  3. Mary Anne Duncan Stephens says:

    Awesome article. Thanks for printing it. Paul Duncan..a wonderful man and a wonderful father.

  4. Joseph B. Clark says:

    I remember Mr. Duncan as being short and stocky, always dressed in a dark suit. I also remember him as being very strict and high on discipline! Does anyone remember those orange cards some of us would sometimes get? I sure do!

    I also remember Mr. Pete, my counselor, who was a very smart, kind and reserved man. He always had words of comfort and wisdom for me during some of my more trying times during my tenure at North Miami!

  5. Phyllis Sidersky says:

    I sure do remember those classes in the auditorium – one especially memorable was biology, with a teacher with a flat top crewcut who would don a diving helmet, stand behind a fishtank and teach about sea life!! Too funny! Class of 64 was huge and the three shift schedule was murder if you wanted to participate in extra curricular activities! Loved NMSH though – so many memories. I have continued my acting vocation, and have been in a few movies.

  6. Garry Romanik says:

    Grew up with Mike Woodworth, Chip Bisbano and Jerry Lotito on the North Miami Recreation Department fields. Ben Franklin Elementary, NM Junior High and would have been one of the Best Alive ’65 class but family moved to Detroit. Does anyone remember a Mr. John Spicuzza? History and Phys Ed teacher I believe. Was the basketball scorer the year NM won the state basketball title with Baxley, Plant, Flurry (grew up with Mike his younger brother too), etc. Anyway when my brother and I were in at NM Junior High Mr. Spicuzza rented an apartment in the small complex my parents owned. He took us to the home games the championship year. ’62 or ’63? Would often take us along with his girl friend to Tony’s for pizza. Great guy. Anyone know what happened to him?

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