ITHACA, N.Y. — We are the 4th grade Treehouse Room from Belle Sherman Elementary School. We had a discussion one day about the oldest people we know. Then we talked about if those people would have gone to a one-room school since we were preparing to go to the Eight Square Schoolhouse later in the year. So we decided to interview people who went to one-room schoolhouses. We asked relatives, teachers, volunteers, the public on twitter (#twithaca), and even our teacher’s husband! Their names are: Jim Geletka, Ed Swayze, Emerson Caiza, Dr. Dave Caughey, Reynold Sawatzky, and Kathleen Wilcox. We took notes on their stories and school experiences. That is how we wrote the following article. We did this because we want to share information. Also to let you know how people that went or still go to school at one-room schoolhouses. We think it is important to know our history because then we can make our own future.

One-room school houses come in all different shapes and sizes and different setups. We interviewed Ms. Wilcox and Ed Swayze. They both went to one-room school houses.

Here is the description that Ms. Wilcox gave us: “When you walk into the one-room schoolhouse you see rows of desks, behind the teacher’s desk, there is a blackboard, and the room is so bright because it has lots of windows. There is a coatroom, an oven, and bookshelves.”

Ed’s description was “the one-room schoolhouse I went to was 20-feet wide and 30-feet long. When you walk inside there are rows of desks and windows on each side. There is also an oven to keep us warm in the snowy winter. When you walk outside my one-room schoolhouse there is a yard, a swingset, and a beautiful forest surrounding it.”

Now you know how different one-room schoolhouses can be.

Ms. Kathleen Wilcox addresses 4th graders at Belle Sherman. Provided by Tara Caiza.

Have you wondered what school was like 60 years ago? Well, you are about to learn a little bit about it! Once on their way to their one-room schoolhouse, Jim Geletka and his brother heard a loud: CRUNCH!!! Jim turned, scared. He sighed with relief when his brother said “Just me stepping on a leaf.” Jim turned back to the path and slowly started on again. He let out a long yawn. He had been walking a half mile, but he still had a half mile to go. Finally, when they reached school, all of the other kids, about 30 of them, looked up from playing and said “Hello!” Jim and his brother said “Hello!” in return, just as the teacher rang the bell and they had to go in. The school day dragged on for six-and-a-half long hours, until 3 o’clock when the teacher said, “Put away your books; school is dismissed.” I hope you have learned something about what school was like in a one-room schoolhouse 60 years ago.

At every school there are academics, in this paragraph you will learn what academics were in a one-room school house. In a small mining town in rural Pennsylvania there was a one-room schoolhouse where a boy named Jim who went to school at a one-room school. “Every day we would learn about math, reading, science, writing, history, and geography,” said Jim. Once in awhile, the kids in the school would do a craft for a holiday or special occasions. Jim’s favorite teacher who taught when he was younger, his teacher graded his work in A, B, C, D, and F order. “It was hard to study because we had no library in the town, so a bookmobile would come once in awhile to lend us books. We had traveling missionary who read prayers from the bible but we didn’t have a religious school,” said Jim. They said the pledge without under god but then added it later. Now you know what academics in a one-room schoolhouse in the 1950s!

Has your teacher ever hit you? If not you’re lucky because the 1900s were a time of physical punishments and cruelty to children in school.

Ed Swayze told our class: “When I was late to school I would have to pick if I wanted to stay in for recess or after school. I think I would rather stay after school because why would I want to miss recess?”

Ms. Wilcox said to our class that when she was disrespectful in class she had to write “I am sorry for being rude in class to the teacher” 100 times. Ed also told us of when he saw kids being punished physically. Ed remembers thinking, “Oh when will it be over?” Ouch! Crack! Yes! It’s finally over. The hickory stick is a thick stick and they keep hitting you until it breaks Phew! You knew the punishment was over. We hope you were fortunate enough to not get physically punished.

Kids like to play games at a one-room schoolhouse some of those games are ball games. You walk out for recess and there is nothing but a field. Your options to play are in some way limited. Some people play football and some people play baseball, basketball and soccer are a option to. If it’s warm outside you can play dodgeball and field hockey. Snowball fights were one of the best. Kids also played tag games too. Some tag games were freeze tag, red rover “ante ante over”. If the people we interviewed played none of those games people played forest or field games. Some of those games would be jump rope, fishing and jacks or build things in the woods, and some schools had swing sets and playgrounds.

One game you might not know is ante ante over we will teach you how to play: ”YAY!” One person gets a ball find a building that is not to tall or to short but extra wide. Then make equal teams and each team go to opposite sides of the building. The person with the ball throws the ball over the building to the other team while calling ante ante over “ANTE ANTE OVER”. Then both teams switch and when there switching the person with the ball tries to tag or throw the ball at the other team’s players as much as they can. If you get tagged by the person with the ball switch to that person’s team “YOU’RE ON OUR TEAM NOW.” Those are the basic rules of “ante ante over.” Those are the games we heard from the people we interviewed Jim Geletka, Ed Swayze, Emerson Caiza, Dr. Dave Caughey and Reynold Sawatzky.

As a child in the early 1900s family life was tough. If you were a child in the 1900s, your father might have built your house, and it wouldn’t have been very large. When you would walk inside, you might see your mother sitting in the family room. She would say that you should go and have a bath with your two brothers and one sister. You go and see that they destroyed your incredibly rare three-speed bike! You are very mad. You decide to get away by going and buying your schoolbooks that you need to pay for before school starts next week. Your job might involve moving huge bales of hay for four hours a day after you get home from school and on the weekends. Then you remember that you have to do your chores to help your grandparents on their farm so that is what you do when you get back home. After that, you give yourself some fun time and go skating on the pond. That is how hard your life would have been if you were a child in the 1900s.

This is the end of our article about one-room schoolhouses. We learned a lot from this project like how to conduct an interview and how to work in a group and how to write a paragraph. Lastly, we learned to take notes better. Our view for the future is to have people who understand the life of their grandparents and how they were schooled. Also, we want more people to get interested in this subject. Thirdly, we think it is important to learn about history. Lastly, we think education should be better for everybody. That is why we wrote this article. Thanks for reading!

Written by the students in Tara Caiza’s fourth grade class at Belle Sherman Elementary :

Elijah, Claudia Carrillo, Aileen Chen, Harper Cohen, Isabelle Cohen, Ciara Colon, Samuel Harris, Koen Hilversum, Roghayyeh Jafarzadeh, Oliver Klemm, KC, Jasper Raimon, Tharun Ramachandran, Julian Riley, Sabena Schmidt, Solomon Shapiro, Chester Stone and Abyaz Wauylo.

Featured image provided by Tara Caiza.