History of Big Cross Elementary


As the 1911 term in the Haviland Avenue School drew to a close, the Board of Education and Superintendent Griffith reached the decision to recommend the construction of a three-room school on Big Cross Street. While construction was in progress on the present site in 1911-12, Miss Ruth V. Riley was employed to teach at the Haviland Avenue building. She became Principal of the new building when it opened in the fall of 1912.

During the school year 1927-28, in the first year of Mr. Miller’s tenure as Superintendent, the three-room structure was torn down and replaced by a six-room building which now forms the central section of the present building. During this year of construction, the pupils were transported by trolley car to the Sanford Street School for their instruction.

Renovations and Expansions

Following a fire in November of 1949, the building was completely renovated and also enlarged by the addition of locker rooms.

Miss Riley retired in 1956 and was succeeded as Principal by Mr. Francis P. O’Toole. The building was expanded in size during the school year 1957-58, and was occupied and used while construction was in progress. It included grades 1 – 6 and kindergarten.

Mr. O’Toole retired in January 1976, and Mr. Harry Herbold became Principal at that time, sharing his time with Kensington Road School.

Grade Level Changes

With the opening of the new Middle School, on Quade Street, in September 1981, the new school housed grades 6, 7 and 8. The former Junior High School, located on Glen Street, which had included grades 7, 8 and 9, was closed and the building was converted to an apartment complex, Heritage Apartments.

Also, beginning in September 1981 the Big Cross Street School contained grades 1 – 5 and kindergarten. The sixth grade had relocated to the new Middle School. Mr. Herbold continued as full-time Principal at Big Cross until June l983, when he retired.

September 1983 found Mr. William R. Garrow as Principal. He had attended Big Cross as a student from kindergarten through sixth grade. He returned as a fifth grade teacher in 1967, and except for the school year 1969-70, when he studied for his Master’s degree, Mr. Garrow taught fifth and sixth grades until 1981. After two years at the Middle School he returned as Principal of Big Cross Street School.

Growth and Change

The Board of Education voted to a adopt a new building program and ground was broken in the spring of 1997. Big Cross was fortunate to receive a new multimedia center (a new library adjoining a computer lab), five new classrooms, an extension to the gym, and many updated mechanical improvements. The addition was needed due to an increase in housing construction and the desire to upgrade our facilities to accommodate change in the 21st century.

Mr. Garrow retired in June 1999. He was succeeded by Mrs. Jean McLellan.

Under Mrs. McLellan’s tenure, she worked with the PTA to raise $50,000 to build a new playground, which is in use today. Mrs. McLellan encouraged all children in regard to developing their creative writing skills. She promoted reading as a learning tool and also as recreation. Mrs. McLellan retired after nine years of service.

In August 2008, Miss Debbie Hall, formerly the school district’s Technology Director, was appointed as the new principal. Miss Hall had attended Big Cross during her elementary school years. Miss Hall returned to Big Cross as an administrator with a wealth of experience. Miss Hall previously taught for nine years at the Jackson Heights School at the kindergarten and second grade levels. Miss Hall coached the Glens Falls Girls’ Basketball team for six years. In 2008 Miss Hall was the first woman inducted into the Glens Falls Athletic Club’s Hall of Fame for excelling as a 4-sport athlete and also as an outstanding coach. Miss Hall’s enthusiasm for education and practice of respect is contagious to students, parents, faculty, and support staff.