My whirlwind trip to Cambridge, NY yielded a big batch of material to draw from for this blog, but where to start? As I sifted through my notes, I realized that nothing will make complete sense unless I first introduce a place I didn’t have a chance to explore, the Cambridge Central School.
I’ve already mentioned the challenging map of administrative jurisdictions in the area, with three towns and the county all playing a role in village life. Layered over those units is the Cambridge Central School District, which draws from a large geographic area, including the towns of Cambridge, White Creek, Jackson, Easton, Salem, Schaghticoke, Hoosick, and Pittstown. There are about 900 students at a school that offers all grades from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, with the 2019 graduating class numbering about 70 students.
The building — which dates to 1950, following a fire that destroyed its predecessor — has a one-story wing for the younger students and a two-story wing for the high school. With only one school for everyone in the village of Cambridge (and beyond!), Cambridge Central is the focus for many community activities, and team sports draw support from beyond students and parents.
As I spoke to folks in Cambridge, the experience of being part of the school community (as students or as parents) came up in every conversation and often seemed to cement their relationship with the village. I don’t think I can accurately reflect the life of the village without at least this brief description of the school, which offers fuel to the phenomenon of everybody knowing everyone else in the village.
As a side note that I saw referenced in many places, the school was the inspiration for a Normal Rockwell 1953 painting, “Triumph in Defeat.”
With this introduction complete, readers will understand the references in future posts to this important center of village life.