I have always loved going to school. Even now, when I walk into WalMart or Target and the school supplies are displayed (in JULY!) I have to stop and look at them. My husband laughs at me, but I just keep on picking up post-it notes and pencils, thinking “I will need these at some point…”
Growing up in the 60’s, our school supply lists were not long at all in elementary school. A “Big Chief” tablet, one of those HUGE pencils, paste in a jar (with a brush built into the lid!), a box of crayons, and a pair of “school scissors” and a wooden ruler. That was it. By the time my kids started school in the 90’s—all that had changed. After shopping for school supplies for only two children, I wondered how families with several kids could afford for them to even go to school—and that wasn’t counting back-to-school clothing.
ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD, OK, 1910
My mom spoke of her school days just shortly after Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma. That happened in 1907. She was born in 1922, and started school when she was only 5. She attended a one-room school house in Albany, a very small southeastern Oklahoma town. With the Depression on the way, and the Dust Bowl days looming, she spoke of the poverty of everyone she knew. She was the eldest of eleven children. Food was scarce. School supplies were almost nonexistent. I imagine that was why she took such pleasure in buying Big Chief tablets and crayons for me.
SEQUOYAH ORPHANS TRAINING SCHOOL, 1920 (near Tahlequah, OK, Cherokee Capital)
Education is so important. Thinking back, I’ve included it in many of the stories I’ve written, and I always love to see it included in the stories I read, as well.
Young boys pose during recess. This picture was taken at Newcastle, Oklahoma, in 1914.
This is interesting. It’s the exam that students had to pass in order to graduate from 8th grade. This one came from Salina, Kansas, and is dated 1895. Students could take the exam in 7th grade and if they didn’t pass, could have another chance in 8th grade to re-take it. I don’t think I could pass this even now! Take a look!
EXAMINATION GRADUATION QUESTIONS OF SALINE COUNTY, KANSAS April 13, 1895 J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.
Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)
Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts
Grammar (Time, one hour)
- Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
- 2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
- 3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
- 4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
- 5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
- 6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
- 7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
- Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
- 2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
- 3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
- 4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
- 5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
- 6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
- 7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
- 8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
- 9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
- 10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
- Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
- 2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
- 3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
- 4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
- 5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
- 6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
- 7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
- 8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?
Orthography (Time, one hour)
- What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
- 2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
- 3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
- 4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.
- 5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
- 6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
- 7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
- 8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
- 9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
- 10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
- What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
- How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
- 3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
- 4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
- 5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
- 6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
- 7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
- 8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
- 9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
- 10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.
Health (Time, 45 minutes)
- Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
- 2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
- 3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
- 4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
- 5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.
Incidentally, during these times, school only lasted 7 months, from October 1 to April 1. This allowed time for planting, farming, and harvest.
What about your “school days” memories? Were you a student who looked forward to school, or hated it? Do you have a favorite story of those by-gone times to share?