Educators, construction personnel, and community residents formed a steering committee in 1971 to begin planning for the Valley School. The final committee report recommended that the new school should “lean itself to the individualization of instruction, team teaching, the use of para-professionals, the interaction of children, instructional innovation, accountability, and community use.” Valley Elementary has the capacity to accomplish all this, and has the committed staff to make it all happen. Flexibility in construction also allows the building to house grade levels other than elementary, should enrollment figures change in the years ahead.
Ground-breaking ceremonies were held in June, 1973. Total cost of the school and the district office building adjacent to it was $4,278,210. An open house and dedication program were held November 9, 1975. The new facilities opened to the public that day included six pods (large instruction areas) for each grade level, an audion, a multi-purpose room (cafeteria and stage productions), a gymnasium (the first elementary gym in Bensalem), locker facilities, seminar and faculty room, eight special education classrooms, art/ music room, instructional materials center-library, six conference rooms, and kindergarten play area. With these facilities, the Valley staff was able to practice the open education philosophy to its fullest.
NEIL A. ARMSTRONG MIDDLE SCHOOL
The building which serves as the Neil A. Armstrong Middle School, 2201 Street Road, Cornwells Heights, was constructed in 1953 and opened in 1954 as Bensalem High School. When a new high school building was constructed in 1969, the Street Road building was renamed by the student body to honor America’s first man to set foot on the moon, and became a middle school.
EMILY SCHROEDER CHRISTMAN LIBRARY
Mrs. Emily Schroeder Christman, for whom this school library is named, has had a most distinguished career as an educator. She spent her early years in Reading, Pa. and came to Bensalem after graduating from Kutztown State College in 1928. She began her work in Bensalem as an instructor in social studies and part-time librarian. When the first Bensalem High School was completed, she continued her dual role of teacher-librarian, though most of her time was devoted to the library. In 1951 she became the first full-time school librarian in the district. Mrs. Christman has been responsible for the continued interest in and development of libraries in all township schools.
When the second Bensalem High School building was opened, the library facilities were larger than they had been in the old building. But as the enrollment increased, it became apparent that even these relatively new facilities were inadequate. Plans to increase the size of the library were made in 1959. Each year, however, financial obstacles prevented the school district from carrying out the plans. Finally in 1962, the library was expanded and modernized into an educational materials center. This expansion, which more than doubled the original library floor space, is divided into several subject areas. The total expense, including furnishings for the Emily Schroeder Christman Library, totaled $90,595.17. Of this amount the sum of $40,000 was paid from the 1961-62 school budget; the remainder was financed over a period of time. The dedication plaque in the library reads: “Dedicated to Emily Schroeder Christman Librarian, Teacher, and Friend of Youth in recognition of her literary and cultural contributions to the students of the community.”