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Interesting Ripplet Feature Article

EARLY SCHOOLS

By the late Russell Wentz
(Reprinted from the September 1987 Historical Ripplet)

Prior to the formation of the Spring Grove Area School District in 1949, the area’s educational needs were met by one or two-room schools in the townships, and grammar schools in Spring Grove and other towns, with secondary scholars attending classes in the several high schools in the vicinity: Spring Grove, Hanover, Codorus, West York and East Berlin.  In those days before consolidation there was no bus transportation, no school lunch facilities, and little in the way of extra-curricular activity.  The backbone of the whole system of early education, from the Pennsylvania Public School Act of 1834 to the second decade of the 20th Century, was the rural, one-teacher elementary school.  What was a day in one of these schools like?

The school day usually started at 8:30 a.m. with the ringing of the bell on the roof after the teacher had arrived an hour or so earlier to unlock the building, open the shutters, stoke the bituminous coal fire in the Waterbury hot air furnace in the back corner of the room, and generally prepare materials for the day’s session.  Scholars usually sat at stationary double desks, and were called to the front of the room to sit on recitation benches when various classes were announced by the teacher.  Better students sat at the head of the bench, and “trapping” was used as a means of motivating performance.  Since the great majority of young people never advanced beyond the elementary school, ages of 17 and 18 were not uncommon in rural schools.

Forenoon recess came at about 10 o’clock; afternoon recess at———

(To read the rest of this interesting and nostalgic story, one can stop by our Society’s museum on Pine Avenue where there are a few extra copies of our September 2013 Historical Ripplet.  The museum is open from 8:30 to 11:30 am every Thursday morning, and 1:00 to 4:00 pm the second and fourth Sundays in the month (except holidays.)

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