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Experiences in a Rural Schoolhouse!

There she sits SS#7 now a storage facility among tall grasses accepting inevitable change, patiently musing over her role in the formation of past generations.

"Where have All the Children Gone" a photograph by Samantha Zyluk.

Set back from the gravel road which ran across the front, the stately brick structure was surrounded by tall mature maple trees with huge leaves which blazed red, orange and gold in the Fall. We had great fun filling burlap sacks to construct walls for leaf houses and defending them from raiders. Our imaginations grew. To the right of the building was a baseball diamond. We had two bats and two balls.

And as you guessed teams were composed of mixed grades. To the left was a set of "teeter-totters" which at times needed to be operated by the longer lags of the older students for those younger. In a grassy shaded area grew "Lily of the Valley" which perfumed the air.

My mother, sister and I were responsible for stoking the great cast-iron box stove in the middle of the room. The heavy split logs often left splinters which were embedded in our fingers. After school we would sweep the oily wooden floorboards with "Dust Bane" which caught the debris from the day. After eating our lunches which were carried to school in a lunch pail, we were always encouraged to be outdoors. It was a learning opportunity for interacting with various ages and problem solving!

Our teacher Mrs. M., who in my opinion looked like Queen Elizabeth reigned in her kingdom as a benevolent monarch . After lunch she would read to us from a famous novel such as "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates" or "Swiss Family Robinson"

as each grade in their own desks would sit listening attentively. Older students would help younger ones with their work. Each wooden desk (in pairs) was bolted to the floor and each was fitted with an inkwell tempting anyone sitting behind someone with braids.

To get a drink of water, you would take your tin cup to the pump outside. An outhouse was located behind the school.

Our teachers desk was positioned on a slightly raised platform, which doubled as a stage for Christmas Concerts. We would paint the tall windows, make decorations , sing and endlessly practice recitations and lines for skits. Parents crowded in to be entertained by their children. Jingling from outside would announce that Santa had arrived with oranges and candy.

For me, school was exciting! It introduced me to the wonders of cultures in the world. Math, reading, writing, history and a great deal of geography filled my days! We learned to compromise, settle differences, stand up for yourself and those who couldn't.

Yes it was more than just a building, it was a microcosm of preparation for life beyond it's walls and needs to be celebrated for the contribution to the development of those in it's care.


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