Because of an increased population and a demand for a more diverse education, the Board of Education of the City of Newark resolved, on November 25, 1908, to erect an East Side High School. The board at this time was composed of the following members: James Taafe, Leser Lehman, John Bruenig, Frederic F. Guild, Thomas S. McCabe, Edgar R. Brown, George W. Tompkins, Benedict Prieth and Charles P. Taylor. At this time the eastern part of Newark was not attractive. Drainage and refuse disposal had not reached their present advanced stages, and the marshlands bred and nurtured myriad’s of mosquitoes. Construction of the school was planned from the beginning for its present site, fronting Van Buren Street and the then newly built East Side Park. The school site was bounded on the south by Nichols Street, on the east by Tyler (since changed to Pulaski) Street and on the north by Warwick Street. The school was to be ideally located, easily reached by the Ironbound trolley line which passed along Warwick Street to return to Broad Street from where it had come. Some few blocks to the south the Chestnut line ran along Chestnut Street to and from Broad Street.
It was originally planned to erect a community high school of the traditional type, but it opened, finally, asthe East Side Commercial and Manual Training High School—the first in the city of its kind. The first school term was to have begun in the new school on February 1, 1911, but on that date there were too many uncompleted details so the school was organized in Market Street School, a little old school house directly across from the Court House, with Mr. Thomas Kennedy as principal. On April 1, 1911 the student body and faculty moved, bag, books and baggage, to the new building, and East Side began. There were about 250 pupils in the first enrollment, a number so small that almost everyone knew every one else. During the first two years many fundraising activities took place to finance many school projects. Mr. Harry Pease, a teacher of technical subjects, constructed a metal box in which he placed all the school work of the first I.A. class, the signatures of the original faculty, some school records, a few coins and articles of current events. After the box was sealed it was buried under the flagpole in the front of the school—our cornerstone. In 1914 the school library was opened with Miss Louise G. Johnson as librarian. The same year South Side High School was opened and Mr. Kennedy was transferred from East Side to become principal of the new school. Mr. Kennedy asked the then senior class at East Side to transfer with him to South Side, but they loyally refused the invitation. In recognition of this, Mr. Eli Pickwick Jr., the new principal, originated the ceremony known as “Senior Recognition.” When the United States entered the First World War in 1917 East Side’s boys volunteered for service. There was a small enrollment in those days, and students were then, as now, not generally old enough for service, but a number of boys went overseas. A few were wounded, but none were lost. Several women of the faculty served abroad with canteen units. old
In 1934 Mr. Pickwick retired and Mr. Stanton A. Ralston, who had been a teacher at Central High School, succeeded him as principal. A year later the school, which had been enlarged in 1916 and again in 1925 until it occupied the entire block, was so overcrowded that it was decided to open an annex at the abandoned South Market Street School. Mr. William V. Wilmont, who had been chairman of the mathematics department, was made head teacher at the annex. His title was later changed to assistant-to-the-principal. After two and one-half years, in February of 1938, Mr. Ralston was transferred to Central, and Mr. Wilmont was made principal of East Side. Mr. Ephraim Eisenberg, a teacher of English in the high school system, was made assistant-to-the-principal in of the annex. Shortly before, after the death of the incumbent, Miss Florence E. Tousdale, Miss Anna L. Erbacher was made assistant-to-the-principal at the main building. In December of 1944 the title of assistant-to-the-principal was changed to vice-principal. The passing years have seen many changes in the school and the neighborhood. The population, originally German, has run the gamut of nations: Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Hispanic and many others. East Side Park became Independence Park in 1924. The vacant lots have disappeared, the mosquitoes have given way to countless airplanes which rise from one of the worlds greatest airports nearby, new additions were built in 1979 and 1980 and a new and larger faculty now gives instruction to children of former students—students who are children of parents representing more than forty nationalities.