History of Seth Haley School

Seth G. Haley Elementary School - A Concise History 


Haley School was named after the late Seth Gurney Haley, former teacher, West Haven High

School principal and superintendent of West Haven Schools from 1933-1951.


A portrait of Mr. Haley hangs on display in the front lobby of the school.


Referred to in a 1963 pop classic as “the hippest street in town,” South Street was once home to the West Haven Airport, a relatively small but bustling municipal airfield that specialized in chartered commuter flights, flight instruction, freight service, and aerial photography, from 1925 until its closure in the 1940s. It was decided that West Haven ’s first new school building in nearly thirty years would occupy the land.

Seth G. Haley


Seth G. Haley School opened in September 1952 under the able leadership of Miss Mary A. Finnegan. On that day in September, 495 children were registered, but then sent home until the following day because the school was yet to be completed.


Initially, Haley School had eight classrooms, an art room, an audio-visual room, an all-purpose room, a library, and a gymnasium. It was overcrowded when it opened.


The art room, audio-visual room, and the library had to be used as classrooms. Shortly after the school opened, the fourth grade was put on double sessions. The following year, a nine-room addition was started and the entire school had to go on double sessions using Room 2 as a kindergarten, with Miss Frances Symmes as the teacher.


During the construction of Alma E. Pagels School, the students from that district went to Haley.


Haley contained grades kindergarten through eight until Harry M. Bailey Middle School opened in 1957.


In 1954, under the outstanding direction of  Mrs. Walker , the seventh- and eighth-graders began the school library by cataloging more than 500 books given primarily by children in the school.


Miss Finnegan, the first principal, retired in June 1976, after serving 24 years at Haley School .


In 1989, due to a tremendous surge in population, four modular classrooms were constructed to house our third-grade students, attached to the main building by a narrow corridor. These “temporary” structures continued to be used for nearly fifteen years.


Mr. Wilfred Fournier assumed the role of principal in July 1976. He was succeeded by Mr. Robert A. Rocco, who served from 1980 to 1989. Mrs. Billie H. Ladd  served as principal from 1990 to 1997, followed by Mr. Laurence Frattini for a period of one year.


Ms. Rita H. Pepe began her duties as principal in 1998 until 2009. 


During Ms. Pepe's tenure, Seth G. Haley School underwent a large-scale renovation project beginning in 2003 and completed in 2005. Our students take great pride in the refreshing facelift of their school and the opening of the new addition featuring a state-of-the-art library media center, a computer lab, and art room, a music room, and six new classrooms.


Our current principal, Mr. Ronald A. Stancil, Sr. became our principal on July 1, 2009.


 As our school grows, so does our love for the Haley community.



Thanks to Mr. Mahoney for this very interesting history of

Seth G. Haley school!