By DON STINE
The Township of Ocean Historical Museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the Oakhurst School, built in 1900 on Monmouth Road, is the subject of a special exhibit at the museum that is bringing back memories to many residents.
Exhibit curator Peggy Dellinger said the museum feels the old school is worthy of an exhibit. The museum was originally housed in the Oakhurst School, at 163 Monmouth Rd., for 25 years until a new museum was created in 2009 at the historic 18th century Eden Woolley House, now on Deal Road.
“The Oakhurst School represents the community’s commitment to education. In 1900, Ocean Township was just a sleepy, rural village and it built a majestic school that rivaled others in the county,” Dellinger said.
She said the old school still holds a lot of memories for people in the community.
“There’s something about this building that just touches people’s hearts. I think the success of our museum when we first opened there was due, in part, to the genuine connection people have with the school, either as a parent, teacher or student.”
She also noted the Oakhurst School was a school model that changed with the educational and technological shifts over the 20th century.
The old Oakhurst School operated as a school for 78 years. It educated kindergarten through eighth-grade students for the entire township until 1930, when the Wanamassa School opened. It then educated only students from Oakhurst and Wayside until middle-school-age students went to the new Dow Avenue School when it was built in 1957.
It then educated only lower grade students until it finally closed in 1978 and was converted into offices for the Board of Education.
Former Oakhurst School student Mary Ann McKean (nee Lyle) was in the last 1957 graduating eighth-grade class of the school and the class picture now hangs in the exhibit.
“Back then you either went to Asbury Park or Long Branch high schools but the vast majority went to Asbury Park,” she said.
McKean said she loved going to the Oakhurst School.
“I would walk down W. Lincoln Avenue and the police were there ever day to walk you across the street. I got a very good education and the teachers were wonderful,” she said.
Back in her day, McKean said that boys and girls were separated from each other during recess and that she used to bring her lunch to school everyday in a paper bag.
And she is glad the old school building has been preserved over the years.
“It is kind of nostalgic and it brings back a lot of good memories. It is still in good condition and the public still uses its auditorium,” she said.
The exhibit, which is open during regular museum hours, will continue through next September. For more information go to www.oceanmuseum.org.