February 11, 2021 | Centennial
The History of Palm Beach Day Academy: The 1970s

Written by Hilary Mendoza ’71

According to Reynolds Price, a noted American poet, novelist, dramatist and essayist:

“The late 60s and early 70s in education were really exciting times to teach. The late 70s, on the other hand, were awfully dull.”

Reynolds Price

Although that was probably the case in many schools, this was not the case for Palm Beach Day School.

Celebrating 50 Years

In 1971, the school saw an expansion of the campus with the addition of the Wean Library and Learning Center – which became the focal point for learning on the campus – and the unofficial 9th Grade lounge. The opening of the learning center was the kickoff event of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the school. As eloquently stated during the anniversary celebration by Mr. Wean, Board Chairman and generous donor, and Mr. Butler, the school’s Headmaster, it was a time of reflection, but also, “a time for rededication to the objectives that have stood the test for fifty years.” Butler identified those goals as a commitment to physical expansion and retention of high-quality faculty, high educational and athletic standards, laced with extracurricular activities that appealed to each and every student.

A Change on Campus

At the beginning of the decade, the board attempted to buy the Graham-Eckes, which occupied a lake-to-ocean property, with most of the classrooms
held on the oceanfront estate. Negotiations fell through principally because of the lack of playing fields and science facilities; however, the board still wanted to expand the Seaview Campus. Two houses on the west end of the campus and owned by the school were demolished, thereby doubling the size of the West Field. Another house was renovated into the beloved Kindergarten House.

Lunchtime Wars

It was also at this time that the school established a food service lunch that replaced the room full of vending machines. The lunch was under the guidance of Marie Andrews, who was later joined by her husband Ed Andrews, a long-time maintenance man, bus driver, and student favorite. Although the lunch program was not controversial, the “out-of-door” lunch at the picnic tables was controversial because of the noise. A noise meter was placed next to the picnic tables and determined that lunch noise was 11 to 22 decibels louder than the 64 decibels allowed for the area. The complaining neighbor then filed two warrants, one for Mr. Butler and Mr. Wean, and the other for the remaining board officers. The esteemed group avoided arrest but within a short period of time, the picnic tables were
dismantled and the students instead ate while seated on the grass on the West and East Fields, while the 9th Grade had the privilege of eating at the picnic tables under the awning next to the boxing ring.

The Student Body

During this time, the student body was made up of a variety of student types, from honor student to the football heroes to the artists and the rebels, to the quiet children who would find their passions in the years to come, and the rowdy children who refused to be overlooked. None; however, were overlooked by the school and the exceptional faculty.