Pipi’s Pasture: Snowy Days at the Morapos School
Last week’s column about Valentine’s Day triggered memories of those winter days when I was a student at the Morapos School, the country school just down the road from our house.
I attended the school from first through eighth grade and then rode the bus to Moffat County High School. Over the years, enrollment in our country school ranged from two to 10 students.
When I was in the first and second grades, school was held in an old log building that was heated with coal and wood. It was the teacher’s job to take care of the fire.
Then we moved into a new building that was heated by natural gas. There were windows along the south side of the building so in the winter we could see the snow piled up outdoors, and on sunny days the icicles hanging down from the roof dripped.
I can remember mostly those years when I was about 8 years or older. My sister Charlotte was in school by then, too. We walked to school when the road from our house didn’t have too much snow in it. When it was drifted, Dad took us to school on the feed sled (because he had the team of horses hitched up to it, ready to feed cows). Sometimes he took us on horseback.
The school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance and sometimes a song. Then the teacher came to our desks and gave us the first assignments of the day. We didn’t all work on the same course areas at the same time. Depending on the grade, we completed math, reading, social studies, Colorado History, and maybe world history. Each course had a text and accompanying workbook, and the teacher graded everything.
A long recitation bench sat in the front of the room along the south wall. That’s where we talked about work with the teacher. While some of us worked at our desks, other students worked with the teacher. For example, she might have heard a first-grader read while the other students worked quietly. When we were finished with one subject, we were assigned another.
We had recess time, too, but when it was too cold or snowy, we stayed inside and played hangman on the chalkboard or pulled down the maps from above the chalkboard and took turns finding certain places for the others to hunt up.
At noon we brought our lunch pails inside and ate at our desks and then played games. Sometimes, when it was sunny outdoors, we bundled up and made snow forts. If there were enough kids in school, we formed teams, molded up piles of snowballs, and had a big snowball fight.
I’ll never forget the “smell” of wet gloves and other outdoor wear as it dried out in front of or even on the gas heater.
That’s how we spent winter days at the Morapos School.
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