The Trustees' minutes of May 31, 1888, reflect the principal's request "that a diploma be voted to Miss Etta A.
Kilburn" and that, "on motion, a diploma was voted to Miss Kilburn, the first graduate of the high school.
New York papers read by local commuters campaigned for a return to the efficiency of the "little old red schoolhouse." But the changes were here to stay.
Since the days of the Revolution, a one-room stone schoolhouse had stood on a grassy area known as the Common, located close to the present intersection of South Orange Avenue and Academy Street in Maplewood.
In 1814, this building blocked the construction of a new toll highway from Newark to Morristown.
The 73 "Proprietors and Associates" of the school met on August 3 of that year and resolved to erect a new school building near the site of the old one, naming seven Trustees to thereafter oversee the education of local children.
The resolution reflected "the desire of the meeting that the said school should in the future have the name of Columbian School of South Orange." The new schoolhouse was a two-story wood structure, topped by a thin steeple and a lofty weather vane. The Trustees decided "That the price of tuition in this school be fixed at $1.75 per quarter for spelling, reading and writing; for Arithmetic in addition to the above branches the sum of $0.25 cts and for Grammar or Geography the further sum of twenty-five cents." The cost of firewood was to be "divided equally among the scholars." On May 10, 1816, the Trustees adopted a seal for the school in the form of "a spread eagle standing on a globe with the word Excelsior underneath in Roman Capitals." In the early years, students at the Columbia School were not separated according to grade.
The close of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th brought significant changes in high school curriculum and school management.