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Chase marks 150th anniversary with exhibit at Mattatuck Museum
Posted 07/15/2015 12:59PM

Retrospective showcases the school’s rich and enduring history

In 1865, the Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies opened it doors on the corner of Cooke and Grove streets in downtown Waterbury. The goal was to provide “a higher, wider, stronger and more liberal education for young women,” in the words of the Reverend John Kerfoot, the president of Trinity College, who gave a speech at the school’s opening ceremonies.

The school evolved into Chase Collegiate, which will celebrate its 150th Anniversary with an exhibit at the Mattatuck Museum’s Community Gallery, opening July 23 and running through the end of September. The opening reception will take place on July 30.

Higher, Wider, Stronger: A Complete Education at Chase

The exhibit is entitled: “Higher, Wider, Stronger: A Complete Education at Chase,” drawing from the speech by Rev. Kerfoot. It will include archival photographs and objects, such as former school uniforms and old-fashioned leather football helmets, to bring to life the school’s century and a half of history in Waterbury.

The retrospective will also feature display panels, including four written by the Chase History Fellows, members of the 2015 graduating class who spent their senior year scouring the school’s archives to find out how their school adapted to changing times for 150 years of staying power. Brian Smail, 18, of Wolcott, along with with Lucy Mariani, 17 of Watertown, Maren Burling, 18 of Monroe, and Meghan Grimes, 18 of Newtown, conducted the unique research project as the school’s first History Fellows.

In describing Chase’s resilience, Brian wrote, Reality is simple: you either evolve, or you get left behind.”

Chase’s history has been marked by constant evolution. After opening in 1865, the Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies closed in 1874, due to financial difficulties. It re-opened as St. Margaret’s School in 1875. The all-boys McTernan School opened across the street in 1912. These two schools remained tightly linked until they were officially merged in 1972 to establish the co-educational St. Margaret’s-McTernan School, which changed its name to Chase Collegiate School in 2005.

The Mattatuck exhibit will offer glimpses into the school’s transformation from the days when the girls of St. Margaret’s school won prizes for best posture, learned the decorum of a proper tea service and went to dances clad in white gloves, with the boys of the McTernan School. The school’s rich traditions continue to resonate at Chase, while students also prepare for the future with three new, state-of-the-art design labs to practice innovative thinking, on the expansive, 47-acre campus.

The Mattatuck exhibit showcases the enduring legacy of Chase’s 150 years, which laid the foundation of the school where today’s students thrive.

“One hundred and fifty years ago, Chase Collegiate School began its long legacy of academic excellence,” said Dr. Polly Peterson, Head of School. “Beginning as the Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies through to the Chase Collegiate School just ten years ago --- this outstanding institution is a college preparatory school that has changed its name over the years but not its mission. The mission has remained steadfast in commitment to developing and nurturing a culture of learning by selecting bright, intellectually curious and motivated students. 

“I am proud to share a retrospective of Chase's rich history to the public through the Mattatuck Museum. Chase's 150th anniversary belongs to all who have been a part of the school community. We are not simply celebrating the age of the institution --- we are celebrating 150 years of educating young people in greater Waterbury --- young people who have become entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, engineers, civic leaders, actors, business owners, parents, philanthropists and volunteers, to name a few.” 

Chase Collegiate School
565 Chase Parkway Waterbury, CT 06708
(203) 236-9500

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