Who was John E. McCarthy? 
by Marcus Crotty and Kevin Whelan 

Closing of School  
by Kevin Whelan 

School cuts pass; few opposed  


Eugene Staid  

Open House Program 

He Died for his Beliefs  

He Kept Moving...  
and Died  

Military Honors  

Misc. Photos  

McCarthy Memorial School Research Team (l-r):
Marcus Crotty and Kevin Whelan   
Photo by Kilmer Sweazy
The construction of the McCarthy Memorial School, located at 76 Lake Street, was first recommended by Superintendent J. Henry Higgins in 1965.  Enrollment figures projected for two years later at the West and John E. Burke Schools underscored the need for an additional West Peabody elementary school.  Five portable classrooms were purchased for West Peabody to handle the increases and class size approached 35 per class. 

The 24-room school was designed by Drumney, Rosane Anderson, Inc. and the general contractor was Fay Construction Co., Inc.  The design of the school was modeled after that of the John E. Burke School.  The school cost $1.69 million. 

After various construction changes, including additional facilities and sidewalks along Lake and Winona streets, the school housed roughly 700 students.  Funds were also allocated to provide drapes for the school and to purchase recreational equipment. 

The opening of the school was delayed three days due to a steel strike and weather conditions.  The delay caused a critical shortage of space in the elementary schools. Before the McCarthy School was opened, an additional first grade teacher position, which was not included in the budget,  was needed for the school. 

The school closed as an elementary school in 1982 when the district closed two schools and the administration building housed in the Daniel Keefe School.  The closings prompted a controversy over grade reconfiguration. 
A group of organized parents advocated the elimination of the junior high level in favor of an eight-year elementary school (K-8) system. Instead, the school board opted to continue the structure  that included kindergarten through 7th grade in the elementary schools, a two-year junior high and a four-year high school. 

At the same time, the school board set in motion a master plan that was to include the middle school concept and the future of both vocational education and special education in the city. 

School Committee person Joseph V. Fleming accused the school administration of becoming bogged down in details about construction and demanded to know why Peabody schools had not kept abreast of the latest methods of education, including team teaching and student exchange programs. 

Superintendent J. Henry Higgins admitted that his age might incline him to rely on traditional methods.  "I've seen several systems praised as the latest thing," he said. "And, I've lived to see those systems discredited.  Change is inevitable, but not necessarily progress." 

Fleming charged that the school committee was putting 250-year-old ideas into new buildings. (Source:  Peabody Times, 3/1/1967). 
Principal of the McCarthy Memorial School: Eugene Staid (Appendix 1); Assistant Principal Alvin A. Innis 

McCarthy Memorial School Open House, Dec.14, 1969. (Appendix 2) 

Kevin Whelan, McCarthy Memorial School Principal Eugene Staid, Marcus Crotty 

The source of information for student reports, unless otherwise indicated, is from Peabody School Committee Records