• About CR

  • Fifties and Eighties

      The decade of the 50's was a time of dramatic growth for the district, jumping 238% from the 1950 total of 1,035 to 3,496 in 1960. To accommodate this growth, the district opened a new elementary wing containing eight classrooms on the western side of the Caesar Rodney School in 1952, as well as a new gymnasium.

      By 1955, a second elementary classroom wing was added that included a separate elementary office and library. In 1956, a new auto mechanics and home economics wing was added in the rear for the high school students. In 1958, the district opened two more elementary classroom wings on the western side of the complex, as well as a new cafeteria in the rear, completing what was to become the first Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School building.

      At the same time, the Air Force began expanding what had been a relatively small Dover Air Force Base into a much larger transport center, with a resulting increase in personnel and their families and, for the district, a sharp increase in base students.

     In 1958, DAFB set up several metal buildings as classrooms, which were staffed by Caesar   Rodney teachers. By 1960 the number of students served in these facilities had grown to 852, nearly the size of the entire district only ten years earlier.

      As a result, the district entered into negotiations with the Federal government for the construction of permanent buildings as well as the money to operate them. The first of those was Dover Air Force Base School, which opened in 1961 and served students in grades one through twelve.

      That project was followed by the addition of six classrooms for the opening of school in 1962 and the construction of Dover Air Force Base Elementary School (the current Welch Elementary School) for the beginning of school in 1964.

      One year later, a second, although smaller, elementary school was opened on base and the two schools were creatively named Dover Air Force Base Elementary School No. 1 and Dover Air Force Base Elementary School No. 2, with their names subsequently being changed to their current Major George S. Welch and General Henry Arnold Elementary Schools, respectively.

      Although many of these projects had been started under the leadership of Superintendent Simpson, he retired in 1961 after 23 years at the helm, passing the building projects and the leadership reins to Dr. F. Niel Postlethwait, who became the district's fourth superintendent.

      Though the 50's had seen tremendous growth in the district, the 60's saw the student population more than double to 8,348. During those years, the elementary population grew from 2,835 students to 6,375 and the secondary population jumped from 648 to 1,973. The single Caesar Rodney School on Camden-Wyoming Avenue could no longer accommodate the number of students it needed to serve. To deal with this increase, the Board completed several major building projects, in addition to what was taking place on the base.

      The first was the opening of the W.B. Simpson Elementary School in Camden in 1962, followed by the Allen Frear Elementary School in Rising Sun for the 1963 school year.

      Also in 1963, the district opened the Kent County School for Trainables next to the Allen Frear School in Rising Sun, a school operated by the district but serving severely disabled students from around the county.

    And lastly, in 1963, district office staff moved from a house adjacent to the Caesar Rodney School on Camden-Wyoming Avenue to the former Dunbar School building on Old North Road.

      In 1965, as a result of increasing pressure, the district's African American students at Star Hill were permitted to attend the elementary schools closest to their homes when school opened in the fall. Star Hill became a desegregated district elementary school and African American junior and senior high school students entered the Caesar Rodney School for the first time.

      As a result of the increased secondary population at this time, the parking lot of the Caesar Rodney School was filled with temporary buildings and some students attended classes down the street in the fire hall.

      In the fall of 1967 the new Caesar Rodney High School was opened on Old North Road, leaving the original Caesar Rodney School building to serve as Caesar Rodney Junior High.

      To accommodate the continually growing high school population a third wing was added to the new high school for the opening of school in 1968. At the same time the now decrepit 1916 original red brick Caesar Rodney School was razed and replaced by a new three story classroom wing for the junior high. 

      Also in 1967, Dr. Postlethwait left the district to become Deputy State Superintendent. His replacement was Warren H. White, who would remain as superintendent until 1971.  Upon his resignation, Dr. Postlethwait returned and continued to lead the district until his retirement in 1989. Dr. Postlethwait had provided a combined 24 years of leadership to the district over the course of his career.

     In 1968, the Magnolia School became part of the Caesar Rodney School District. The original school had been built in 1914 on Main Street in Magnolia.

      One of the teacher/principals there was a gentleman by the name of J. Ralph McIlvaine who began his career in 1915.  After two years, he left for France during World War I and would return to the Magnolia School as its principal. Mr. McIlvaine would then go on to serve as the Magnolia School principal for the next 45 years, retiring in 1964.

      In 1935, the original structure on Main Street was replaced with a newly constructed Magnolia School now located on East Walnut Street, housing 7-9 grades within its four classrooms and gym.

      In 1964, the school officially became part of the Caesar Rodney School District. That same year, Mr. McIlvaine retired after serving 47 years as an educator and administrator.

      In 1970, the school was named in honor of J. Ralph McIlvaine, who had served as teacher and principal at the Magnolia School for 47 years.

      The decade of the 70's saw an overall decline in enrollment, down to 6,858 students by 1980. However, although the elementary enrollment peaked in 1970 and then declined steadily thereafter, the secondary schools would not peak until the late 70's. Despite the decline in enrollment the district openedit's newest elementary, W. Reily Brown, in the fall of 1970 to deal with the tail end of the elementary enrollment bubble.

      During the 80's, the enrollment of the district continued to decline slightly, dropping to 6,312 students by 1990. Decreasing enrollments at Dover Air Force Base High School made it difficult to offer all of the programs that were available to students at the larger Caesar Rodney High School.

      As a result, base sophomores, juniors and seniors were transferred to Caesar Rodney High School for the opening of school in 1980 and Dover Air Force Base High School ceased to exist. At that point the former junior-senior high school building was used to serve only grades 7-9. Several years later, the 9th graders also moved to CRHS and the 6th graders from Welch Elementary joined the 7th and 8th graders in the newly reorganized Dover Air Force Base Middle School.

     As the 80's drew to a close, Dr. Postlethwait announced his retirement as superintendent. In1989, the district hired Dr. William J. Bach to lead the district into the 1990's.


    (Click here to go to 1915 - 1940's, 1990's - 2000's)