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After the Civil War, improvements on the railroad contributed to a decided growth of population in the old Township of South Orange.The general character of the citizenry underwent a significant change and residents known as "commuters" began to emerge in numbers.Many students and teachers were enlisted during World War I, which had a significant effect on life at Columbia.
The 73 "Proprietors and Associates" of the school met on August 3 of that year and resolved to erect a new school building near the site of the old one, naming seven Trustees to thereafter oversee the education of local children.
Musical enrichment was added in 1894 with the hiring of a singing teacher from New York City.
Early in the 1900s the value of athletics was recognized and encouraged at Columbia by the organization of boys' and girls' teams.
The district remained unified even after Maplewood and South Orange became separately incorporated as municipalities, although there was considerable pressure to split as early as 1904.
The close of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th brought significant changes in high school curriculum and school management.