New Salem Club chooses annual outing for feature article

New Salem Club chooses annual outing for feature article

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 2:51 pm
By: Sara Simmons

It was the annual outing day for New Salem FCE Club. Our ladies were excited that we were going to see the Liberty IV Restored School in adjoining Henry County. Jean Paschall, our former FCE agent, had recommended it to us and would serve as our guide.
After pooling rides, ten ladies: Aileen Edwards, Bettie Higgs, Deanna Higgs, Ruby Rogers, Evonne Shopher, Marjorie
Simmons, Kathy Simmons, Sylvia Simmons, Sara Simmons and
Paschall traveled to Como, turned south on Highway 140, drove about five miles, turned east onto a side road and we were suddenly at Liberty IV School.
We truly were privileged to begin a trip down memory lane. The building had all appearances of the many small schools that were so numerous in our country until the 1940’s and 50’s.
We left our cars, approached the building and observed the playground, the pump area and school bell, all essentials for the one-teacher school.
As we entered the building the flooring caught our attention. It looked like a shiny new floor made of wide antique-looking planks. Paschall told us this was the old flooring from the building. The people of the community had turned the planks over, refinished the bottom side, re-laid and resealed it. It was beautiful!
We were amazed at the orderly room with the old-fashioned desks, the bookshelves that held some well-worn books, lunch pails and pictures. The walls held pictures of children of many years ago, which were those who had once been Liberty IV students. A stage area held a “blackboard,” a teacher’s desk and chair where an observing teacher could keep check around the room, and an American Flag.
Some modem additions were electricity with lights and heaters, a water supply, kitchen area and bathroom. Along one side of the room was a long table for groups to use for meetings. They had preserved the building for use at present and retained the memorial to the past as well.
As we sat down at the long table, newspapers caught our attention. They were copies of The Paris Post Intelligencer which held front page news and pictures under the headlines, The Liberty IV School Building Restoration. As we discussed the news items, Paschall added interesting details. At one time due to un-use and neglect the Liberty IV building lay collapsed on the ground with only parts of the roof intact. At the encouragement of one man, who had moved into the community and had become interested, encouraged the people to restore Liberty 3V School Building.
The era of Liberty IV School was very much like all the schools that were found in every community. It was an active school, years 1917-51. During those years it was the sole source of education as well as the main source of social activities for the community. The PTA and others of the community helped by staging plays, having ice cream suppers and other social and fund raising events.
The one teacher taught grades one through eight and, as the grade level required, the subjects of reading, spelling, arithmetic,  history,   geography,   forestry,  handwriting, penmanship and music. The day began with calling the roll and the devotion which included Bible reading, prayer and singing. Prior to lunch hand washing took 10-15 minutes and lunch took 20 minutes.
Punishment may have included the wearing of a dunce cap, having the child stand at the “blackboard” with his nose placed in the center of a circle and should the behavior warrant it, a paddling. One idea to encourage good behavior was to have children write rules of good conduct on their fingers, such as Do Right, Act Properly, Be Prompt and Work Quietly.
A question raised was, “How did one teacher teach so many classes and how did she keep some quiet or busy at their desks while she had classes for others?” A conclusion was the ingenuity of the teacher to solve problems as they arose. Some ideas were letting older children assist the teacher with younger ones, or letting one child who did well in a subject help those who needed special help.
We talked about the evolving changes of education. In earlier years communities solved their own problems. Where there was no school building they may have used a church building or a home.  Subscription schools often paid the teacher’s salary or other expenses. Often there was no school board, superintendent and little or no tax money, so schools were totally dependent on the community. The people soon realized a need for more than an eighth grade education, so they built 2-year and 4-year high schools, or in some cases they sent children to the high schools in the nearby towns.  They provided transportation by pooling rides or even sending students by train from a local depot to the town depot.
Gradually, with better roads and bus transportation our present education system has five schools in the five towns of the county.
To conclude the events of the New Salem FCE Outing it was now about noon and time for lunch. We returned to nearby Cavis Restaurant in Gleason, and enjoyed a delicious lunch along with conversation about the interesting morning we had at Liberty IV School.
We especially express our thanks to Liberty IV School
Community for making this opportunity available to us and to
Jean Paschall for the suggestions and knowledge she shared. It was a most enjoyable day for New Salem FCE Club.wcp 1/11/11

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