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Just Outside My Door

September 5, 2013
Elaine Cole , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

As I looked out my window this morning and then checked the thermometer outside, I thought it's great to feel the warmth of a summer day though I know it's really September. I know that because I also see the first signs of autumn just outside my door. There's a few colored leaves in a couple of trees in our yard and the air is beginning to smell like fall even though the calendar says the new season won't arrive until September 22. I know however, that date was set by man and he is not in control of the seasons for God is. Nevertheless, I suppose that date was arrived by the average time for it to come over the years. One thing is for sure, this new month brings the first day of school. Wednesday the local school busses begin traveling the roads to pick up youth taking them to schools to begin the new school year.

As I think of local schools I'm reminded of the days in yesteryear when I started school and also the days when our children went to school. There have been many changes made in the area of education since those days. In my estimation some have been good and others have been bad. Of course some of you would not agree with me, but that's the privilege of living in our country.

I vividly recall my first days of school in the Dewittville. It had two classrooms instead of one and two bathrooms instead of none, like some schools had back then. Kindergarten was unheard of in those days so students began their schooling in first grade. The only problem I had was sitting still for a long period of time, but I gradually handled that. I remember I liked school though it was quite different from being home. I loved playing in the yard at recess time. There was a hand operated merry-go-round there and sometimes it was hard to jump on if it was going around, but usually it would slow down or stop for the littler kids. I also liked playing in the snow in winter.

Another difference in those days was that you soon learned the names of all the kids there from grade one through grade eight. It was sort of like one big family. When one of the students, I'm not sure if it included the older students, got a dime to spend on their birthday we'd go across the road and buy something. It was probably candy. I'm sure it wasn't just one piece because in those years there was penny candy.

I had always loved having stories and poetry read to me at home, but I know that I loved being able to read myself. Many of you probably didn't learn to read through the Dick and Jane books. I still recall reading those small soft-covered books that read, "See Dick run, see Jane play etc." I have heard that some of those books are available today though I know they aren't ever used in schools. I think it would be fun to have one of them just to see again.

Those old country schools taught, as they use to say, "reading, writing and arithmetic." I think they also learned by word and example how to live a good life. In fact long ago schools began with reading the Bible and often praying. Today I think there are some schools that don't even have the pledge to the flag at the start of a school day like they did when I was in school.

When I entered fourth grade it was in Mayville school because it was then that centralization of schools began. We rode the bus there and I recall it was quite different. There was a kindergarten and each class was in a separate room. There were many more students in each room and new faces, there was a cafeteria available and no recesses unless you considered gym class as one. Also we had to get used to the building which consisted of several floors.

I had more changes when our family moved to Sherman in 1946 and entered the ninth grade. Probably the biggest change was that high school began each day with singing songs in a special room on the second floor which had a stage in it. For me it was sort of a good experience to help me adjust to the new school because I was sad having to leave my former home and friends and go to an unknown school. However, I soon learned to like it almost better than where we lived before. I graduated there and have always believed I was well qualified to enter the nearly adult life. I didn't go to college like I though I would because I had fallen in love and got married!

When our children attended School it was different than it was when I attended there. Classes were larger, dress codes allowed wearing jeans and after the homecoming football games there was a dance and crowning of a king and queen. Still more changes took place in the school and its educational process. Other new things were added that were to enhance learning and state laws were beginning to make it more difficult for schools to comply to their requirements causing more expenses. However, there is no doubt some things were good improvements such as better transportation, buildings were improved, sometimes new additions had been added to the building and a host of other things. However, over the years more government control kept coming, taking away more local control. I don't know when schools began getting government funds to operate. Perhaps they always have to some extent, but now the amount received is according to its rules and not controlled by the local schools.

I don't know all the ins and outs of how schools operate today because I'm no longer connected as much as I was when our children were going there. Nevertheless, all of our grand and most of our great-grandchildren have, or are currently attending the Sherman school. I think it's important how schools operate not only for our local youth, but for all the youth in our country.

We try to attend various meetings and school activities to keep informed of how it operates. It's important to realize the influence the local schools have on our youth. I believe in some ways they have lost some of the great things that existed in yesteryears even as they have also added some good improvements.

Although the quality of the school administrators is important, I believe the school teachers are equally important in a school. Recently I found the following in an old Ideals magazine written by Edwin Osgood Grover. It was found in an old scrap book. I think it's a great creed for teachers still today because they play a big part in the lives of youth. Perhaps it would be good to give it to every school teacher today.



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