the 10th in a series of articles
sponsored by the Oconto County Teachers Association
to promote better public relations in the schools of our county.
It was in the year of 1893 in the midst of a woods area that the first school of this district was constructed. A few settlers still surviving have a vague remembrance of the erection of that building, this being sixty years ago.
In this unique structure, simplicity prevailed. Double desks were then occupied by its pupils. Slates were then prevalent for individual usage, although blackboards were purchased as early as 1906. These were used for drill.
This building, constructed of brick with hand hewn timbers and joists, was built in the center of the present school yard. This primitive structure sufficed its occupants until the large membership of these pioneer pupils necessitated the building of a larger school.
After utilizing this building for 10 years, it was voted to erect a new school. The old school was demolished, and the material salvaged was used for the new building, which is now the present Oak school.
The first teacher was Miss Mary Nilson. Miss Nilson taught here only one year as did most teachers in those days. In 1894 the vacancy was filled by Miss Kitty Heath.
Harper's Readers were used throughout the county and the 3 R's were stressed. Large writing charts were used for the first grade. There were no report cards or libraries.
T. P. Rierdon, an early surviving schoolmaster of the first school, taught during the years of 1908-1910. Mr. Rierdon also taught here at a later date. He is still a very active pioneer of this district residing on a farm at Kelly Lake. At the age of 80 years he is still an active member of his community.
The first school board members were Rasey Yance. John C. Hansen and Charles Hansen, with the director receiving a grand total of 75c per year as salary. The teacher received $25.00 per month.
Among the first pupils to attend the school in 1893 were Hans and Pete Hansen, Angus, Minnie and Ella Saunders; Mary and Charlie Christiansen, Alice and Pat Kehoe. Ann and Marjorie Parker and Lu and Ross Conklin.
Belle Simpson, a former teacher of 1900-1901 and who is now Mrs. Allan McMahon of Hickory, has been very instrumental and helpful in the compiling of this report. She is still an active member on the Hickory school board.
Many improvements have taken place over the years. All new recent maps and World books have been added, electric lights were installed several years ago with all the necessary electrical appliances for schools purchased. This includes a clock radio, stove and a film projector which was purchased in 1953.
With the help of the pupils and the teacher money was raised for new kitchen cupboards and an electric stove through a card party and school program. This kitchen, which was remodeled, was completed in 1950, enabling the cook to do the cooking at a school where the lunches are served daily. This project was begun eight years ago with Mrs. John Fabry as cook. It was then necessary to cook the meals at her home and carry them to school. At present Mrs. George Yankee has been hired as cook.
Every fall a special meeting of the Mothers is called by the teacher for the purpose of dividing the mothers into groups of four or five. A chairman for each group is elected. These groups put on special entertainment such as card parties for the welfare and entertainment of the people of the district. The proceeds are then used for different school needs. A new floor-type large oil burner has been purchased quite recently which adds to the many comforts of the school.
The school yard which is very well kept up, is well provided with new playground equipment. New swings, teeters and a slide were purchased three years ago as well as new basketball equipment and baseball articles. A large merry-go-round was purchased prior to that.
Last year was the school's first attempt with a Conservation Corner. Pictures and movies were taken of the project. Many schools and teachers of the surrounding area came to see the project thus stimulating and urging the constant necessity of conservation.
Members who are at present serving on the school board are Mrs. Robert Davis, clerk; Les Colling treasurer; Earl Blazek, director. The present enrollment is 35, which is the smallest enrollment within the past four years. Mrs. Lucille Molitor has taught in the Oak school four years.