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Uniquely Medfield: MYC, The Power of Youth

A weekly column by Town Historian Richard DeSorgher.

 

When the “new” high school was built on 24 Pound Street and opened in 1961, the town closed the former Hannah Adams Pfaff School building on the corner of North and Dale Streets (today’s Pfaff Center).

The building was first built in 1927 as Medfield High School, although it had many nicknames, including “The Laundry,” “Fort Apache,” and the “North Street School.” After its closure, it was used for storage for school supplies. It stayed that way until 1967. 

In 1963, a group of high school students formed the Medfield Youth Center, which held Saturday night dances in the former hall on the second floor of town hall. Its first set of officers included Tony Frank, Calvin Fisher, Debbie Luke and Bob Souza. The Saturday night dances continued to take place at Town Hall and then at the Dale Street Gym until 1967 at which time a group of students and adult supporters approached the town to convert the former school building on North and Dale Streets into a permanent youth center building.

Town Meeting voted to turn control of the building from the school department over to the Park and Recreation Commission. It was P&RC Commission Chairman Scott Fader who spearheaded the drive. In addition, town meeting voted the youth group $5,000 to renovate the former school. New heating, plumbing and wiring was installed.

Large numbers of high school students invaded the building every day after school and during the summer months, armed with sledge hammers, brooms and shovels. They knocked down the walls of several classrooms to make one large hall for dancing, keeping two classrooms standing (one become a lounge and the other a game room). More than 150 high school students took part in the renovations. Local plasterer Earl Smith volunteered his labor and supplies to plaster the walls. The youth of Medfield now had their own building.

Bob Luke was elected President of the Adult Advisory Board, whose goal was to help and support the students. Selectman Buck Buchanan said the town supported the students’ efforts 100 percent and said that the selectmen were pleased with the results of the work done by the youth.

The doors of the newly-renovated Medfield Youth Center (MYC) opened on October 12, 1967 with MYC Student President Ross LaBaugh, MYC Vice President Charles Kenyon, Selectman and P&RC Commissioner Walter Frank, P&RC Chairman Scott Fader and Robert Luke, President of the Adult Advisory Board cutting the ribbon to officially open the building. 

Membership cards were issued to both in-town and out-of-town students.  School dress had to be worn, so that meant no blue jeans. No one would be admitted with any evidence of alcohol and membership cards could be withdrawn for any infractions.  

The Saturday night dances took place before live bands, with the doors opening at 8 p.m. and the dance ending at 11 p.m.  The dances averaged about 200 students per night.  By 1970, for example, attendance ranges from a low of 105 students to a high of 256. There were always three police officers present during the dance with two couples, usually parents of students attending, acting as chaperones, along with members of the Adult Advisory Board. Food and drink were sold from the small kitchen. 

During that first Open House in 1967, the new youth center was highly received by the students of Medfield High School. Then-freshman Deborah White said, “It's more than I ever expected.” David Blake reasoned, "They’ll appreciate it because they made it themselves.” And Dennis Nyren got into the center of the issue saying simply, “It’s cool, really cool.”, 

In addition to the Saturday night dances, the building was also rented out during the week to town organizations. During its first year of operation 17 different town groups used the building. These included three Brownie Troops, five Boy Scout groups, the American Field Service, the Hannah Adams Women’s Club, the Park and Recreation Commission, the Conservation Commission, the Finance Committee, the Republican Town Committee, the Democratic Town Committee, and the Visiting Nurses Association.  

Student Officers of the Medfield Youth Center during its first decade included:

1963-1964

  • Tony Frank, President
  • Calvin Fisher, Vice President 
  • Debbie Luke, Secretary
  • Bob Souza, Treasurer

1964-1965

  • Calvin Fisher, President
  • Danny Wright, Vice President
  • Virginia Shugrue, Secretary
  • Debbie Luke, Treasurer

1965-1966  

  • Danny Wright, President                    
  • Sue Minnaert, Vice President 
  • Lynn Rogers, Secretary 
  • Bruce Little, Treasurer

1966-1967

  • Gail LaBaugh, President
  • Mary Hjelmstad, Vice President
  • Susan Connolly, Secretary
  • John Kellar, Treasurer

1967-1968  

  • Ross LaBaugh, President          
  • Chuck Kenyon, Vice President 
  • Pamela Fader, Secretary  
  • George Sarikas, Treasurer  

1968-1969

  • Tom Thompson, President
  • Stephen Perkins, Vice President
  • Pauline Buchanan, Secretary
  • John McCormack, Treasurer

1969-1970 

  • Richard DeSorgher, President 
  • Mary Sergi, Vice President  
  • Gail Nyren, Secretary  
  • Sharon Byrne, Treasurer  

1970-1971

  • Wayne Stokes, President
  • Gail Nyren, Vice President
  • Theresa Looper, Secretary
  • Perry Osmer, Treasurer

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