Memory Lane

MEMORY LANE

CONNETQUOT, NEW YORK

Idle Hour Elementary School

As far back as 1955, before the Ronkonkoma School District and the Oakdale-Bohemia School District merged to become the Connetquot Central School district, there had been talk about building a school in the Idle Hour neighborhood of Oakdale. (1) After the two districts merged in 1960, the newly formed Connetquot Central School District became one Suffolk County’s largest districts with an enrollment of 2,300 pupils. (2)  In 1964, The Suffolk County News reported that Connetquot was “facing a new classroom crisis” with the current student population of 4,345 expected to increase to 8,400 by 1969. (3) That same year, the school budget, which included a provision for construction of the Idle Hour Elementary School, was voted down. (4) In total, voters rejected the proposal to build an elementary school in the Idle Hour neighborhood five times, until finally passing it in February 1967. (5)  Construction on the school began with a completion date set for the start of the 1968 school year. That goal was achieved by the district with the assistance of parental volunteers. (6)


In the beginning, the school implemented what was viewed as a progressive policy with an individualized non-graded instructional program.   Individualized non-graded education was a non-traditional trend in education in the 1960s. It was designed primarily to allow children the freedom to advance at their own pace, (7) and Gerald Devlin, the principal of Idle Hour Elementary school, was an advocate of the program. (8) For this reason, Idle Hour parents did not receive traditional reports cards, but rather descriptive narratives of their child’s progress.
To get a better glimpse into the early days of the Idle Hour Elementary School, we spoke with Rhoda McManus, who was one of the original teachers.  She told us how the Idle Hour Elementary School began as a progressive school, which over time became more in line with other more traditional elementary schools in the district. We hope you will enjoy hearing, as we did, about the early days of the Idle Hour Elementary School.

  1. Where are Yesterday’s Empty Spaces? Oakdale-Bohemia Plans New School in Idle Hour to Reduce DistancesSuffolk County News, July 8, 1955, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 8 January 2015).
  2. “Old Foes Shift, Hail School District Merger,” Newsday, June 9, 1961, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Newsday (1940-1985): accessed January 12, 2015.
  3. “Connetquot Facing New Classroom Crisis; School Enrollment Soaring,” Suffolk County News, December 3, 1964, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 8 January 2015).
  4.  “Students Circulate Petition Seek Third Vote in ConnetquotSuffolk County News, June 18, 1964, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 12 January 2015).
  5. Connetquot Voters Pass Bldg Plans,” Suffolk County News, February 23, 1967, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 13 January 2015).
  6. School Open and Ready on Time,” Suffolk County News, September 19, 1968, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 8 January 2015).
  7. “List Enrollments, Hours for Connetquot Schools,” Suffolk County News, June 13, 1968, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com:  accessed 8 January, 2015).
  8. Letters from News Readers,” Suffolk County News, May 7, 1968, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 10 January, 2015).

Rhoda McManus Interview