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Signs of schools past

Looking Back with Mathews, originally printed August 15, 1977

 

“Do you wish to promote the morals of your children, while the intellect is being cultivated? We have no whiskey, no gambling, no allurements to vice, no encouragement to prodigality. Here your sons and daughters may live happily, and be educated at a very modest expense.” This statement was part of the sales pitch that introduced parents to an early county school.

Dublin High was a boarding school 60 years ago, and a very interesting catalog for the 1917-18 term tells a lot about schools of that day. High school students today would find it hard to believe the almost military discipline under which the school was operated. Quotes used in this article are from this early catalog.

The school grounds covered seven acres of land, on which there were three dormitories, a school building, principal’s residence, and other buildings. It was co-educational because “under proper guardianship, the education of the two sexes together is both desirable and beneficial. The stern boy is less rude and the girl more considerate and modest.” Pupils were well chaperoned at all times, and social intercourse between the sexes was strictly forbidden. No student was permitted to go into the Town of Dublin without proper permission.

The schedule of work gives one a pretty good idea why some of the old timers got so much education in such a short time. For the boarding pupils, the rising bell was at 7 a.m. Breakfast and Chapel followed, after which there were classes until noon. In the afternoon, recitation and study followed lunch recess, and lasted until 3:40. From that time until 7:30 p.m., there was Physical Culture and Recreation. Then two and a half hours for study, and the 15-hour day ended with lights out at 10 p.m. That’s a schedule that should cause the modern workaholic to feel like a slacker. For day students, the two and a half hour nightly study time was expected to be done at home. If it was observed, or learned, that a pupil ceased to do a reasonable amount of work, his parents were requested to quietly remove him from the school so that he would not be a stumbling block for those anxious to learn.

By-laws were strict. There must be no profanity, no fighting, gaming, falsehood, obscenity. No intoxicating liquors were to be allowed, and “the cigarette will not be tolerated.” Students could not have visitors of either sex in their rooms without proper permission. “A healthful religious influence is thrown around each pupil in this home school.” Flourishing Sabbath-Schools are located in the town.

Tuition for the nine-month term for the boarding school was $150. Evidently, county day students did not pay tuition, but for out-of-county students the fee was eighteen to thirty dollars per nine month term.

The principal was Mr. C. E Kirkwood, and there were eight teachers, including one who taught penmanship. Math, Latin, English, French, science, history, music, chemistry, and general business were also taught. In 1917, there were nine graduates, including one in piano. Much emphasis was put on music. There were four music teachers in the school.

In a large dining hall in the girls dormitory, pupils and teachers sat down together to their meals, and while cheerful, interesting conversation was encouraged, still it was required that all observe the proprieties of refined table etiquette.

In a section of the catalog entitled “Suggestions to Parents,” here are a couple items of interest. “Students should not visit their homes too frequently. Once every six weeks or two months should be the limit.” And concerning spending money, modern day students take note. “A moderate allowance of spending money is wisest. No boy or girl in this town needs more than a dollar a month.”

(Thank you, Jack Lewis, for furnishing the catalog.)

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