Chester Andover: One Room SchoolHouses
The Start of our Project
By Ann, Katie, and Logan
We kicked off our study of One Room Schools in Chester and Andover on Town Meeting Day 2004. All of the 3rd and 4th grade students went to the Town Hall. We put up a display. We had a model of a one - room schoolhouse, pictures of the schoolhouses that are still around today, a large map showing where the 18 schools were in Chester and the 8 in Andover.
While we were at the Town Hall we handed out fliers asking for community members to donate photos, share any of their school memories, to our project. We told them we would gladly receive these at the Chester Historical Society or Chester Andover Elementary School. Many community members stopped to share where they had attended school and some fond memories. They told us that there were so many school because there were no buses and students had to walk to school back then. As a bonus we got to experience how the voting process works.
The Pen Pal Experience
The experience of the one room schoolhouse pen pals was fun but hard to believe. It was fun learning what they did in school, and how they did it. But at the same time, hard to believe that they did not have the same tools and machines we do.
They only had one room with kids of all ages with only one teacher. They did not have heating systems, only one fireplace or stove. Usually their teacher was really strict.
But in some ways, it was like school now. They had recess, they learned to read and write. They walked to school like some of us do (they might have walked farther distances).
The experience was fun because not only did we learn about our pen pals, but everyone else's in the class too. When we got the letters we shared them with the class. It was fun learning the different experiences of people in one room schoolhouses. Most people got two or three letters from their pen pals. But a couple of students did not get any letters. Finally, we were gong to meet them!
On May Day we made them May Baskets to give to them after lunch. Everyone got a senior pen pal to talk with, even if their pen pal could not come. We learned a lot about one room schoolhouses. It was a fun experience for our class.
The End Product
At the end of our project our teachers put together a play for us to show people what we had been doing with our pen pal project. The play included eight students from the third and fourth grades as representatives from our classes. We did our play in Montpelier for the Vermont Historical Society's celebration of the Community History Project. When we were in Montpelier we met Governor Jim Douglas and were announced on the floor of the House. We also performed our play for our school board and were taped by the local public television station so that our project was shared with the larger community.
The play was about a class that wrote pen pal letters to people who went to a one room schoolhouse. The play showed the help we received from local Historical Society members and the exchange of letters between students and alumnae of local one room schoolhouses. It was really fun to be in this play and perform it for so many people.