The St. Vincent School

by

Lori Webster

 

The St. Vincent school has been a place of good times andbad. But through all of the hard times and rambunctious students, the buildingstill stands. It is a big white four room schoolhouse. It is differentfrom the small schools in this part of the county because of its spaciousness.

The St. Vincent schoolhouse was built in 1903 and costapproximately $6,000. It has been remodeled and modernized many times. There were woods and bush on the land before the school was built. Theland was owned by the village. The only main building on the land besidethe school is a woodshed. A long time ago there was an outdoor toilet. State regulations now require that schools have running water and indoorrestroom facilities so the "little house out back" is no longerthere. Another item of interest is a unique fire escape, added at the sametime as the running water and indoor restrooms. The fire escape is a coveredslide going from the second floor of the school to the ground outside. The upstairs door is opened when there is a fire drill and all the kidsupstairs line up to go through the door and down the slide. Someone isat the bottom to catch them so they don't keep on sliding. The kids alsoenjoy surreptiously playing on it whenever the chance is available.

The school has never been used for church services or ameeting hall, as many early schools were, but during the floods of 1948and 1950, the school was used as a Red Cross shelter for people to stayin to be safe from the rising water. The Army "duck", a landand water vehicle, would bring food and supplies to the school.

The school has always been heated by wood and coal froma furnace in the basement.

The only change in the school since it was built was thatthe basement and kitchen were added in approximately the year 1943.

Many people have been connected with the faculty and staffat the St. Vincent school. Some of the ladies who worked as coos were:Mrs. Sam Lapp, and Mrs. Johnny Reese and now, Mrs. Earl Cameron. Some ofthe janitors were Mr. Harvey LeMasurier, Mr. John Ryan, Mr. Wes Cameron,Mr. Lawerence Wilkie, and now Mr. Russell Cote. Some Superintendents andprincipals were Mr. Good, Mr. McCloud, Mr. Tri, Mr. Cowan, Mrs. Berg, andMr. Morris. One of the first teachers was Mr. Trask.

The nationalities of the students were varied. PrinceEdward Islanders, English, Scandinavians, Scotch, Irish, Indians, and Frenchchildren all went to the school in St. Vincent.

The students would come from one to five miles out in thecountry, from Noyes and even from Canada. They would come on foot, by horseand buggy in the summer and sleighs in the winter. The sleighs would becompletely enclosed and have heaters in them so the kids wouldn't get cold. Each parent would bring his own children and leave the horses at a townbarn. The horses would be watered and fed. Then when the kids were readyto come home they would go to the barn, get their horses, and leave.

The school hours were from 9:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 4:00. At the present time, students attend from 8:45 to 3:30 p.m.

The school started with the first three grades in one roomand fourth, fifth, and sixth grades in another room. The upper grades werepout upstairs. In 1915, Mr. P. N. Tri set up a high school department. Mr. Good became the superintendent. He taught math in the seventh andeighth grades and in high school. Mrs. Good taught all the English classes. Mrs. R. H. Lapp taught history, economics and all other subjects in theseventh and eighth grades. The high school had a well stocked science library. English, history, economics, arithmetic, science, reading, spelling, andphysiology were all offered. State board examinations were taken for eachhigh school subject. These had to be passed in order to get high schoolcredits. In 1925, St. Vincent had its first graduation class. The superintendentwas Mr. Good. There were eight graduates. The graduation was held at theReed Hall in St. Vincent. this was located along Main Street.

A full four years of high school was maintained until 1938when it had to be cut back to a grade school. There were eight grades. The first and second grades were in one room, the third and fourth in theother room. The second floor held the fifth and sixth, seventh and eighthgrades. There was one teacher in each room. In 1950, the St. Vincent schoolconsolidated with the Humboldt School. Grades 7 and 8 were transportedto Humboldt in the fall of 1951.

The kids wrote with pens that were dipped into an ink wellwhich was at their desks. They brought their own paper and the school providedthe textbooks.

Before the kitchen was built and the hot lunch programwas started, the students would bring their lunch - or if they lived intown, they would go home for dinner. The teachers went home, too, so therewas no supervision at the school.

At recess, the students would have foot races and playgames like pump-pump-pull away, red rover, prisoner's base, softball, dropthe hankie, and kick the can.

Teachers used several methods of punishment and some ofthe most common were to keep the culprits after school and to use the ruleror a rubber hose on the delinquent students.

The St. Vincent school has witnessed many incidents whichstill tickle the minds of the students who used to attend classes there. There are stories that would take forever to tell. Students still go tothe white school house to learn redin', ritin', and rithmetic'. Studentswho are descendants of the early Prince Edward Islanders, English, Scandinavians,Scotch, Irish, and French Canadian settlers still whoop and holler withglee as they slide down through the old fire escape - and children stillare reprimanded for the things children do. St. Vincent as a traditionin Red River Valley, education lives on.

Bibliography

Goden, Billy, St. Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, January12, 1974

Gooselaw, Eli, St. Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, January5, 1974

Lapp, Mrs. R. H., St. Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, January5, 1974

Ryan, Douglas, St. Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, January12, 1974

Humboldt Annual Staff, The Whip, 1957
t, Minnesota, Interview, January12, 1974

Humboldt Annual Staff, The Whip, 1957