Before Middle Schools, New Bedford Had Three Junior High Schools
When New Bedford's aging junior high schools were falling apart and the time came to replace them, the new schools opened as middle schools and not junior highs.
The junior high schools – Normandin in the North End, Roosevelt in the South End and Keith in the West End – had seen better days, and modernization would cost more than demolishing the old buildings and replacing them with state-of-the-art facilities at or near the existing ones.
New schools were ordered.
The one constant was the school's names. There was discussion about changing at least Normandin's name, but it was short-lived.
I graduated from Normandin Junior High School in 1973 after completing Grades 7 through 9 there. Shortly after that, ninth-grade classes moved to the "new" New Bedford High School on Hathaway Road.
The same was true at Keith Junior High School and Roosevelt Junior High School.
When the new middle schools opened, they were Grades 6 through 8.
Roosevelt Middle School was the first of the three new schools to open in September 2001. Normandin Junior High School, demolished in 2003, was replaced the same year by the new Normadin Middle School, only yards from where the original stood for many years.
The new Keith Middle School opened on December 11, 2006, about a block from the junior high school. On December 12, 2006, the entire staff and student body took a ceremonial walk from the old building to the new $70 million facility.
The idea was seen as some sort of symbolism.
The old Roosevelt was in the worst condition of the three when demolished. Keith was 49 years old when it closed and fading fast. Normandin was at least 70 but was in the best shape of the three schools.
The City of New Bedford took advantage of a state program that provided most of the funding for the construction of aging schools.