Snapshot: Starting Off Middle School at Roger Williams

The Providence school still has some beautiful architectural detail.

Photographed by Nat Rea

When sixth graders report for the first day of school at Roger Williams Middle School on September 6, the brass front doors will be polished. The school on Thurbers Avenue was built in 1932 along with four other junior highs in Providence — Nathan Bishop, Oliver Hazard Perry, Nathanael Greene and Gilbert Stuart constructed since 1929 — that became showpieces of the system, according to Patrick Conley and Paul Campbell’s history of Providence, 375 Years at a Glance. There hadn’t been a school building program since the 1880s and the existing facilities were underfunded, overcrowded and archaic, a Columbia University professor had found. With its beautiful architectural details still evident, Roger Williams is now home to more than 900 students and more than 100 faculty and staff members. Parents come in for a meeting the week before school starts and new kids will get acclimated with tours. “It is overwhelming for some of them,” says principal Jennifer Vorro. “You see them holding tight to their parents as they come in, but trying not to look un-cool, because it’s middle school now.”