A memorial of sorts

One Room School

One Room School (Photo credit: W9NED)

This is a shortened version of my column for the newspaper:

Sometimes writers need prompts. Something to get the juices flowing. This morning a prompt from WordPress read: “A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.”

And do you know what immediately came to mind? The one room school house that I attended for the first four years of my school life. It was called  Zion — and yes, we walked about a mile and a half to school (it seemed like five miles) but not in bare feet, or in ten feet of snow.

I cannot remember when the school was torn down, but whenever I pass the spot where it stood, a wave of nostalgia passes over me. I wish it were still standing, though if it were, it would probably have been turned into someone’s residence as so many of the smaller schools have been. Students who attended these schools were eaten up by either regional or town schools, but their experiences at the one room schools would never be lost.

I loved and hated that school. We were exposed to such a variety of kids that it really did stand us in good stead for a life that is made up of all kinds of people, and not just kids our own age. You learned how to cope, how to get along, and you learned that life was not always easy.

What I loved about the school was the fact that we were exposed to a unique learning experience. We learned our lessons, but were able to “listen in” on the lessons of the other grades, and if you were an eager student you garnered an education above your years. We did a lot of things together as a whole school. We played baseball together; we had a school choir where we competed at a yearly concert; we practiced for the yearly Christmas concerts together; and we exchanged names for Christmas gifts.  You were just as likely to end up with some grade eight boy’s name, as the girl who sat next to you in your grade.

What I hated about the school were the things most students would hate about any school—if you were picked on, or you were not quite up to snuff in sports, or if you were the teacher’s pet. But those were all valuable learning experiences as well, if not the most pleasant. (I still remember being taught how to make an iceball—a snowball with ice in the middle that hurt like heck if you got hit with it.)

One of the best things about a one room school for me was that the teacher had to divide her time among all the grades, so when she was not teaching you, you had all the time in the world to do your lessons, then read as much as you wanted. Since I loved to read, this was a real bonus for me.

After grade four,  I was moved to a regional school and put in a classroom of kids who were my own age. It was quite a transition. We had a teacher who was available to us all throughout the day, which was a good thing, but left little time to be on your own.

I am glad that I got to experience both ways of being educated. I would never give up the things I learned at the one room school house. To this day, I miss being able to see a piece of my history. The school was the same one my parents and aunts and uncles attended, and even some of my grandparents.  It was the true essence of community.

I will never bid a fond farewell to Zion—it will always be fraught with sadness.

Where is the bliss? Not in the fact that the school was torn down, but in the fact that it was a piece of my history. What piece of your history is missing, but still remembered?

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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I couldn’t name one thing. Every day I discover a part of my life and learning that has disappeared. That’s why I’m scrambling like crazy, trying to write all my memories.

    • memories are so important – they are the fabric of our lives–good for you for writing it all down

  2. How neat to have time on your own to read while in class. There is something to be said for that kind of unstructured freedom.

    Your school reminded me of my middle school. It was a very old building, my mom and my grandmother went there, back when it was both the high school and the middle school. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in the 80s, I actually stood there in the snow and watched it burn with my mom late one night. Like most things in my hometown of Freeport, it’s now a parking lot. I can still remember vivid details of it even now.

    • where my school stood — it has just grown up into forest–better than a parking lot
      I think unstructured freedom should be worked into the curriculum–guess it would be structured freedom (lol)

  3. I have memories of that one room school too, but I went only one year. The one memory that came to mind was the fire that destroyed an important section of downtown Kingsville. It was traumatic to walk downtown and see the devastation, not only to bricks and mortar but the disbelief and sadness on people’s faces. I know Kingsville has gone on to rebuild and I have moved out of the area, but a sense of sadness and nostalgia for what was, has stayed with me.

    • I know what you mean–it was a terribly sad time and sad to lose all those businesses

  4. How charming! A one room school. I think I would have hated it because of being with siblings…eek.

  5. That would be such an interesting class to be in – I love the idea of just being in your own world and learning for yourself while someone else was under the teachers eye :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • it was a different way of going to school then when we were transferred to the bigger schools

  6. When I saw the prompt to do …it was really kind of difficult to remember a place when I was a child that I could zero in on..like you were able to do… Maybe I was never in one place long enough for memories of this kind…sigh…Diane

    • we all have such different experiences which when we share this way gives each of us a little porthole into other’s lives – I have lived in the same area for decades and while there is comfort in that, there is also something that is never satisfied

      • I like that expression…a little ‘porthole’….so true…Diane ;)

  7. What a shame the nit wits of government did not preserve these old schools. Nice post LouAnn

    • of course not–that would have been too smart

      • Thank for the reply. Did you see my grossness as opposed to goodness- misspelled word? Would you mind correcting Nince to Nice? Thank you! :-)

  8. I think students would do much better if we returned to the one room school house and allowed more children to learn on their own and at the same time from the various age groups that could help. It’s strange that the only time we are ever in a group of people the same age as we are is in school, how does that prepare you for real life.

    For me the one place I would miss is both a good and bad memory. It was a home I had with my mother for a few years. The house was in a neighborhood that anyone would dream of having, no trouble took place and we were free to roam with the other neighborhood children. Of course my home life was not peaceful, but we had this huge weeping willow in the back that was never trimmed, it was my refuge. The house was later bought by the next door neighbor who had no yard, they tore down the house, uprooted the willow and made it their yard for the family.

  9. Nice insight. I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to attend a one-room schoolhouse. My mother did for a few early years and it sounded fantastic, but I also thought it was probably limiting. Your perspective answered some of my questions. I think you were lucky to have had that experience.

  10. I went to school in a very small school in a very small town. I didn’t have the advantages that many had in big schools. When hubby tells me his graduating class was over 300, I can’t even imagine. I don’t know, though, as much as I couldn’t wait to get out of that small school, small town, I seem to gravitate toward “small town” kind of villages and towns anyway.

  11. Interesing to hear about something so different from my own past. You seemed to have gotten alot out of the experience

  12. This made me sort of sad. I miss those simpler times. Things were so much more innocent then. I think the one room school house would be wonderful for many students today. Some kids would really benefit. I think some of the schools nowadays are like little cities – they’re completely intimidating. Kids get lost in the shuffle and feel like a number. No wonder we have so many troubled children. Bring back the one room school house!

    This was a great post. Thanks, Lou Ann, for sharing your memories.

    • I am glad to have experienced it — there is an advantage to both tiny schools and bigger ones and I was lucky to have the benefit of both

  13. I’m glad you wrote about your experiences in the one room school since I’ve only read about them in novels (Little House on the Prairie, anyone?). Nowadays, if a single class has 30 kids or less, that’s considered excellent. As A Gripping Life says, I also agree that schools now are really intimidating and hard to find your own niche in. It almost seems to set some kids up for failure even before their lives really get started.

    • And that is so sad–school is not wonderful for everyone all the time–but it should not be forbidding or intimidating

  14. What a unique and special memory you have of that school house. A lovely post and response to the daily prompt. Missing from my life but not forgotten is the corner malt shop across from my high school. It was a place for kids of another era.

    • how very cool–we did not have a malt shop–but in high school we walked to the bakery on our lunch hour

  15. Oh – The blissful moments & memories!

  16. the library in the little town where i grew up. it was a little victorian house. It smelled musty and of the river that was slowly eroding the back yard. when it moved to a new building, the town celebrated but i felt like i lost my best friend.

    • I know, we went from a tiny little heritage library to a big new one–though I like any kind of library as long as it has books, but I understand you missing it


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