Monday, September 24, 2012

Cavendish One Room Schoolhouse program

Recently, the Cavendish Historical Society’s (CHS) “Hands on History program visited the third graders at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. They are studying what it was like in a one-room schoolhouse. Lucky for them, Sandra Field Stearns, author of “Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957,” –we like to think of her as Cavendish’s Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the Little House books)-told them what life was like at the Center Road School. The first one room school built in Cavendish, Sandy described how there were no more than 17 kids in the school, from first through 8th grade. She said she learned so much because as a first of second grader, she’d hear the lessons of the older kids.

Today’s third graders were shocked to hear that even the teacher walked to school and that there were no bathrooms. They thought it was great that parents would take turns bringing milk to the school in the winter so the kids could have hot chocolate on cold days.

The students made chalkboards similar to the ones that were used for many years in Cavendish and Proctorsville-a combination of non-sanded grout and paint on boards. They quickly saw how easy it was to break the chalk if they pressed to hard. Their teacher, Ellen Cameron, is planning on having them use their chalkboards as part of their lessons over the next several weeks.

It wasn’t all work for the students, as just like the kids long ago, they had recess. They learned a number of the games the students would have played in the schoolyards. Below are links to some of those games.

Hand Clapping Includes Miss Mary Mack and lots of old favorites

Sandy’s book relates many wonderful stories of rural life in Cavendish, as well as what it was like going to a one room schoolhouse. “Cavendish Hillside Farm” is available from the CHS and can be purchased for $15 plus $5 for shipping and handling by sending a check to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.

Workshops for the CHS Hands on History program have been funded in part by a grant from the Cavendish Community Fund, a project of the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association. 

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