Clarence R. Edwards Middle School

Once a neighborhood school, built to accommodate a growing population in Charlestown in 1931, the Edwards Middle School is now an educational facility for students from all over Boston.

(Editor's Note: To read a quick summary of the Edwards School, click here.)

The large, u-shaped Clarence R. Edwards Junior High School, at Walker and Main Street, opened in 1931, the same year its namesake died.

Major General Clarence Ransom Edwards, veteran of the Spanish-American War and a much-decorated hero of World War I, was born in Ohio but spent many years in Boston, where he served as head of the U.S. Army  Department of the Northeast. He received, posthumously, the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal, for "exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services" to the government of the United States during World War I.

The Edwards School was one of only two new schools built in Charlestown during the first half of the 20th century -- the Oliver Holden Elementary School on Pearl Street, built in the late 1920s, was the other.

The building is surrounded by houses built in the late 19th Century. Its south side faces a parking lot and the main entrance on the east side overlooks Walker Street.

Currently there are about 500 students enrolled at the school, which teaches grades six through eight. The student body is multi-cultural, with a mix of Hispanic, African American, Asian and Caucasian students.

Since 2005 the Edwards school has been operating with an extended day schedule. To help raise the scores of its students the state of Massachusetts awarded the Edwards and other city schools additional money to allow for an extended day curriculum. The non-profit Citizen Schools became involved and added to the academic curriculum an enrichment program, which included apprenticeships with the Boston Ballet and Google.

Citizens Schools continues to provide enhancement programs for sixth grade students. There are also extended day programs for seventh and eight grade students, which include musical theater, community service, dancing, swimming, tennis and fashion design.

Information for this article was compiled with research from the following: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/11/pdf/elt_union_districts.pdf; http://hpronline.org/hprgument/the-edwards-middle-school-writes-about-politics/; http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/school/edwards-middle-school; http://www.localschooldirectory.com/public-school/38887/MA; Boston Landmarks Commission inventory.

Kenneth Stone August 16, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Interesting history articles by Helen. Hope they are being saved for future readers.
Nancy Hannan August 17, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I agree with you Ken. Helen's articles should be compiled and archived for posterity. Her creative digging illuminates us all! thank you Helen.
Mary Brock August 17, 2011 at 04:03 PM
kathleen cahill August 17, 2011 at 09:00 PM
I grew up on Russell St so the Edwards was a part of my backyard. I went to Catholic schools so I was never a student there but I did student teach there for a very short period of time. I live in Iowa now, so it's especially great to see the article and the pictures of it. I never knew the history of it.
Helen O'Neil August 17, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Kathleen, how great to hear from you and thank you for telling us about your experience with the Edwards School. Yesterday my mother told me that the year the school opened, 1931, the principal invited all of her class from St. Francis de Sales down to the Edwards for a tour and then for lunch. I thought that was so cool.
Helen O'Neil August 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Ken, Nancy and Mary -- Thank you for your encouraging words. Several people have mentioned the idea of putting these articles into some kind of book, for future reference. I welcome any ideas. Maybe there's a grant out there for this purpose. It's a privilege to write them and we owe a lot to PATCH and to Kristi Ceccarossi for the opportunity to grow in our awareness of this beautiful, history-laden town.


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