Ann Antolini

(this article was previously published in the New Hartford Independent, a weekly print paper currently serving the towns of New Hartford and Barkhamsted.  Written by Anne C. Hall (who is also this blog’s usual author))

Naming conventions for places, roads, or buildings tend to favor practicality over whimsy. But, at the same time, they are also an ideal opportunity for unique personalization, to remember an individual or to state ownership.  Road names are often taken from a prominent individual or family; in New Hartford Steele, Henderson, Holcomb, and Gillette are but a few of these roads. Four of New Hartford’s parks: Chapin, Callahan, Brown, and Brodie are also named after people.

One of New Hartford’s schools is as well: Ann Antolini. Ann was born in New Hartford on April 11, 1912.  She was the daughter of Augusto and Celeste Carloni Casciani, immigrants from Italy.  Augusto and Celeste, from the towns of Mentanna and Capradosso, were already married when they emigrated from Italy.  Augusto arrived in New York City, by way of Ellis Island, in 1907; Celeste joined him a year later, probably once he found work.  They were both in their late twenties.  The Casciani family was large: two boys and three girls.  Ann was the only child to go into higher education; her brothers worked in manufacturing while her sisters worked in secretarial positions.

Ann’s education stared at North End elementary school on Main Street in New Hartford.  She then went to Gilbert High-school, as New Hartford had no high-school of its own.  Following Gilbert she earned a degree at CentralStateUniversity and then pursued graduate work at Yale, Harvard, and BostonUniversity.

After graduating from Central, Ann promptly returned to New Hartford and began teaching in its school system in 1933. In 1934 she was named principal a position she held for her entire career, though she continued to teach in addition. It is hard to comprehend today, but while female teachers in the 1930’s were common, that a young woman would be named principal in only her second year of teaching must speak to Ann’s effectiveness and personality. Throughout her career she remained in New Hartford, teaching at Nepaug, Bakerville, and Pine Meadow.  She taught for 35 years, until her retirement in 1968. These were dynamic years in New Hartford, spanning the Great Depression, World War II, the floods of 1936 and 1955, and broader shifts such as the advent of the state highway system in the 1950’s that transformed so many small towns into the modern suburban landscape, or the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960’s. The educational system modernized as well, gradually adopting state standards and greater central organization. In New Hartford, the schools changed beyond all recognition: the one room schoolhouses gave way to the modern schools of Bakerville Consolidated in 1941, Pine Meadow in 1953, Northwest Regional #7 in 1957, and finally AnnAntoliniSchool in 1968.  Through it all, Ann taught the children of New Hartford.

Unsurprisingly, she was also active in other local organizations including: the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Library, the junior Red Cross, the PTA, and the New Hartford Nursing Association. On her retirement in 1968 the brand new school above the South End Firehouse was named after her.  This final facility completed the restructuring, if not outright creation, of New Hartford’s schools that had occurred during Ann’s tenure.  AnnAntoliniSchool opened for classes in the fall of 1968, marking the end of one woman’s extraordinary career.

Ann died in 1998.

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