From Pipi’s Pasture: A day in a country school
The second Country School Reunion will be held this June 15t in Craig. Talk about the reunion has triggered memories of the years I attended the Morapos School, located just a short walk from our childhood ranch.
It’s been a lot of years since I was a student at the Morapos School. I don’t even want to think about how long ago it’s been. I started school when I was six years old and was a pupil there through the eighth-grade. After that, I rode the bus to attend high school in Craig.
I grew up to be a teacher, and I’ve often thought how challenging and exciting it would have been to have taught in a country school. However, by the time I was a teacher, there were few to no country schools left.
During the time I attended the Morapos School, the enrollment ranged from two pupils to perhaps as many as 10. Imagine, the teacher had to make plans for several grades and then make time for each student. A school day wasn’t actually like those depicted in television programs such as “Little House on the Prairie” which made it seem as though students were all on the same level.
Our books came from the County Superintendent of Schools Office. I think the parents purchased the books because I still have some of them. Besides the hardcover textbooks there were workbooks with activities to accompany the text material. We also had a bookcase of assorted books; I’m not sure where they originated. I’m not sure if we had a set of encyclopedias or not, but we did have a set of maps that hung down from the blackboard.
The school day began by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes we sang a song as well. Then the teacher gave out individual assignments. She — I never had a man teacher — arranged the schedule so that older students could work independently while she helped the younger students, first- and second-graders.
A long recitation bench had been placed near the windows on the south side of the classroom wall. That’s where students were called to work on the subject at hand. So, for example, the teacher might have called up the first graders who practiced reading aloud from the “Dick and Jane” books. Meanwhile, the older students read silently and then completed comprehension activities covering the stories in their workbooks.
When the first-graders were finished, they were given seat work which might have been matching words with pictures, such as the word “Puff” with a cat or “Jane” with a girl — words they had just covered in their reading. The children would color the pictures, too. And while they did that, other grades were called to the recitation bench.
The day followed in this manner so that math, social studies, geography, and penmanship were covered. If students finished their work early, they could read from books on the bookcase, draw and color, or work on an art project. I enjoyed writing stories that I illustrated. I still have some of them, written in little cursive letters — not like my present handwriting at all.
So much to tell! Future columns will cover more about the Morapos School. In the meantime, if or you would like more information about the Country School Reunion or have country school memories to share, please call Mary Lou Allen at 970-824-6761 or Beverly Counts at 970-824-6455.