Planning for this school began during the 1960’s. In 1972 the 31.685 acre site on Hulmeville Road was purchased, through condemnation proceedings, from the Abrams family at a cost of $445,800. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on November 13, 1977. The site of this third middle school is in close proximity to the Cecelia Snyder Middle School and the Neil A. Armstrong Middle School.
The three share a campus area of more than ninety acres. The architect for the Shafer school was Arthur L. Stabler& Associates, and the general contractor was S.T.C. Construction Company, Inc. After many delays in construction, and amid much controversy, the school finally opened in September 1980; official dedication ceremonies were held on November 16,1980. More reviews.
The building was planned to accommodate the instructional needs of middle school students, grades six through eight, and features many outstanding areas. This two-story brick structure is a school built with flexibility in mind. It includes forty classrooms, seminar and faculty rooms, special education rooms, art rooms, large instructional music rooms, a self-contained cafeteria and kitchen, well-equipped science laboratories, a nurse’s area, television studio, swimming pool with spectator balcony, fully-equipped home economics area, integrated industrial arts area, library center, tennis courts, and provisions for the handicapped.
The gymnasium area features a stage and seating area for student assemblies and community use. Robert K. Shafer, for whom the school was named, served as superintendent of the Bensalem Township School District from 1952 to 1970, and devoted his entire professional career to educating Pennsylvania youth. At dedication ceremonies in 1980, Dr. Robert H. Hays, superintendent of schools, stated: “If the Robert K. Shafer Middle School matches the accomplishments of Robert K. Shafer, the man, it will earn a powerful reputation as one of the finest middle schools in our area.”
ROBERT K. SHAFER
Robert Kline Shafer was born in Delano, Pa. on May 4,1911. He graduated from Delano High School in 1928, attended Perkiomen Preparatory School in 1929, and received his Normal School diploma from East Stroudsburg State Teachers College in 1931. He earned his bachelors degree from Kutztown State Teachers College in 1935 and his masters degree in 1941 from New York University. His educational career spanned more than forty years, almost half of them as superintendent of schools in Bensalem Township. He was an elementary teacher in Schuylkill and Monroe counties from 1931 to 1937, and an elementary principal from 1937 to 1941 in Bucks County. He became a supervising principal in 1941, serving until 1951 in Nockamixon and Buckingham townships. He held the position of administrative assistant in Central Bucks School District in 1951 before coming to Bensalem Township in December 1952 as superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of William B. Shellenberger.
His tenure was superintendent of schools here from 1952 through 1970 saw many changes as the township began to grow by leaps and bounds. In addition to developing an extensive building program, he also developed an extensive curriculum which included elementary music, art, science, reading, physical education, and library programs. By restructuring the elementary, junior, and senior high school curriculums, he developed the present middle school concept for grades six through eight. He further developed the team teaching and open school concept beyond the intermediate step. With a constant eye to the future, Mr. Shafer conceived and developed the concept of the area Vocational-technical school. With the cooperation of the administration and schoolboards in Lower Bucks County, the present Bucks County Technical School came into being in the mid 1950’s. He also conceived and developed the concept of a school for the exceptional child, almost concurrently with the development of the vocational-technical school. Working in a similar manner with the same schoolboards and administrators, and with Dr. Lucy Davis of the Bucks County Public School offices, a countywide survey was taken of the number and kinds of exceptional children. The ” gifted child” was not part of the survey, nor part of the first school established.
Next Mr. Shafer envisioned a program for the gifted child, whereby such children would be placed in the environments of the colleges and universities of the Delaware Valley on a part-time basis, or by having a system of “visiting professors” come to the Bensalem School District. This program did not envision advanced college placement, but was intended to challenge and broaden the horizons of our youth, to motivate their intellectual potential. This program never came into being, for many reasons. During Mr. Shafer’s tenure as superintendent, nearly twenty million dollars was spent on new school buildings. In 1984, Mr. Shafer was residing at 4453 Yates Road, Bensalem, with his wife Bernice M. Haldeman Shafer. Their three children, Edith, Rachel, and Christopher, all graduated from Bensalem High School. In his retirement, he has remained active in the community through memberships in the Eddington Presbyterian Church, Rotary Club of Bensalem, and the Historical Society of Bensalem Town- ship. He also has maintained a close association with the Retired Teachers and Administrators Association in the county and has been a frequent visitor to the township schools.