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OCONTO COUNTY SCHOOLS
Town of Little River
by Larry Grady
(transcribed from news article below)
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.
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