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 Fairview School
Town of Little River
Oconto County, Wisconsin

Photo contributed by:
Jill Gondek
Taken 2010

Contributed by Larry Grady
(transcribed from news article below)

In the fall of 1895. several interested citizens of the Little River neighborhood met at the Gilbert Le Page Home lo discuss the building of a school. Parents were concerned because thev thought that it was too far for the children to walk to the McDowell School and that too many of the children were not going to school at all. The meeting was successful and shortly thereafter the building of the Fairview School. District Number Five, was begun.

Andrew Johnson, who was anxious that his several boys receive an education, sold one acre of land for one dollar on a 99-year lease to provide a site for the school. The men of the vicinity donated much of their time toward the completion of it. By early winter enough of the school was finished so that Robert E. Telford could begin his work as the first teacher at a salarv of $1.00 per day. He lived a lew miles away so he roomed and boarded at Frank Malchow's for $8.00 per month. That first year consisted of six months school. The first school board was Frank, Malchow, treasurer; Joseph Mal-chow. clerk; and Frank Le Page, director. The following year, Telford was rehired to teach a term of eight months.

The appearance of the school was rather interesting as a large box stove stood directly in the middle of the room with the pipe going towards one side to help distribute the heat. The desks were large double ones of which the tops raised. The floor was rough pine which made it difficult to keep clean. There was no well at the school then so the water had to be gotten from sometimes as far as a quarter mile away; of course, the children drank from a dipper. Lights were of little concern, but when they were needed for an occasional night entertainment, everyone brought a lantern.  The children advanced by readers rather than by grades.  For a while the children bought their own books because some didn't know how to take care of school property. The parents later voted against this and there have been free textbooks ever since. Those entering the first year in school had charts rather than books to read. For seatwork, the children copied the chart into their own books which were provided by the district. This class was often referred to as chart class.

Some of the earliest teachers, at the school were Nettie Fitzsimmons, Emily Rathke, Ella Fencil, Edna McDowell, Stella Caldwell, Mary McKough, lienors Wright, Susin Gilkey, Lorrti Palm, Pearl Kreeahette, Anna Lenhart, Myra Strack, Catherine Murfey, Mable Classon, and Palestine Eparvey. Miss Gilkey's father was one of the early superintendents at the time she was teaching. One older resident recalls one teacher being so strict that one dared not smile or one would have to explain why. She also recalls one teacher trying to make school more pleasant by devoting part of each Friday afternoon to some form of entertainment such as a peanut race, drawing, etc. Most of the teachers remained for only a year as teachers were plentiful at that time and the school board members also were easily hired as everyone wanted that respected job. However, on a few occasions, the annual meeting resulted in heated arguments because of disagreements as to the selection of a school board. Several members did serve a long term, such as August Zimmerman who was treasurer from 1898 to 1918. and George Milbauer as treasurer from 1933 to 1951.

In 1931. during WPA times, a woodshed and garage were built behind the school replacing a smaller shed which had been built in 1903. The garage was made for the teacher's car, but it is doubtful whether any teacher to this day has used it for that purpose. In 1932, an addition of twelve feet was put on the back of the school and a few other minor improvements were made.

The people, realizing that their children spend many hours of their lifetime in the schoolroom, have endeavored to make it as pleasant and comfortable as possible. A two-burner oil stove replaces the old large wood and coal stove. A year ago the inside of the school was completely redecorated, changing the color from the familiar buff to a soft green. At that time cupboards were built in to store materials and permanent shelves for library books replace orange crates. This past fall an effort was made lo provide more equipment on the playground, beginning with a slide and a large sand box, in the hopes that each year will add more facilities. In another year the school shall be all refurnished with new modern type desks after having purchased some for the past two years. This fall the men of the district cooperated in building a completely new fence with steel posts to enclose the yard. A basketball ring with a backboard was put up to interest the older children. Bats, balls, and indoor games for rainy days are provided to keep active hands and minds occupied.

A radio is now used extensively in the teaching of science, art, music, health and other subjects. Children are encouraged to bring interesting objects for study and enjoyment. Numerous books for entertainment value as well as informative are accessible for all levels of pupils through the school library and the Oconto Public Library. At all times, the individual is kept uppermost in mind to provide for differences in ability, behavior traits, and background. A well-rounded education is the chief purpose and concern of the teacher.

The present school board consists of Maynard Staidl, clerk; Roy Reed, treasurer; and Wilbur.