Rural Schools and Teachers

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Looking at the Glenfield School 1914-1972

In those days the land was wide-spreading prairie, grassy, wind-swept and low. North Dakota was already a state, Foster County had been defined, and the middle township on the east was named Glenfield. There were homesteads and farms dotting the area when the Surrey Cutoff, a branch of the Great Northern Railroad, came through in 1912, and the village of Glenfield was begun.

Among the homesteads and farms which dotted the area, one-room schoolhouses could also be found. Pioneers had brought with them a zeal and a need for learning; and besides, the constitution, passed just a couple decades ago, made the schools mandatory.

Now that Glenfield was established as the center of this township, some of the settlers, far-sighted and ambitious, felt that better education could be provided the children if the three rural schools were consolidated and a much larger building placed in the new, already bustling and thriving community.

An election to decide the issue was held in the Thiede Schoolhouse, northwest of Glenfield in June 1913, and a favorable vote said that this dream should become reality. A consolidated school would be built.

And so it came about. The township was bonded, and the rural Thiede School moved into town to the present school site. Here a term of school was conducted from January until June 1914, while the new schoolhouse was being built beside it, north of a road that was later named, but never really called, Berg Avenue.

By late fall it was ready - a tall, imposing, brick building, sky-scraper or the prairie, with big bold letters above the door stating: PUBLIC SCHOOL.

The first session in this public school began November 1, 1914, with 38 children in the first and second grades. Ages ranged from 6 to 10, as school attendance was not easy in those early years; some did not speak English, because several parents had so recently emigrated from Scandinavia. There were 44 enrolled in the upper grades.

Although she had been commissioned postmaster in Glenfield in 1912, Lottie Posey was engaged to teach the first and second grades. She had already had five years experience teaching in the townships of Eastman, Rolling Prairie, Haven, and Glenfield, and was the one in charge of that January to June session after the Thiede School was moved to town.

Minnie Moffit was hired to teach the upper grades; and because the rooms were both so overcrowded, Percy Heaney was added to the staff in January 1915, to complete the term.

Teachers in rural schools had been their own janitors, but a consolidated school like this one meant that a janitor had to be hired. James Posey, the new teacher's uncle, was the first janitor that year in 1914-1915, and there have been many since, keeping the building warm, clean and in repair. In the days before automatic buzzers and time clocks, it was the janitor who rang the big school bell in the tower to get children into line as they marched to their classrooms - mornings, noons and recess times. Janitors then, custodians now - whatever the name, it was Johnny Ryum, Lewie Hennings, and Vern Overbeck who served the school in this capacity the greatest number of years.

A consolidated school like this one also required that free pupil transportation be provided, and so three school buses were purchased in 1914. Those first buses were green horse-drawn vehicles without windows, but with seats along the inside walls and a little round heater at the center. The first bus drivers (Ben Dunbar and Allen Moser were two of them) kept their horses in William Hoggarth's livery barn each day, while the children were in school, just as did all the drivers in those early years. Later on, when automobiles became more popular, families, contracting for bus routes, drove their own cars in the fall and spring, resorting to the horse-drawn vehicles during the winter when roads became impassable. What a contrast today's sleek orange school buses are, with their high-powered engines, flashing signals, upholstered seats, two-way radios!

The school board, being in charge of the school, has always set its course. The first board elected in this new consolidated district was composed of John Dybwad, August Johnson and Carl Erickson. In fact, it was August Johnson who had given rides to a number of people who otherwise might not have voted at that important election in the Thiede School in 1913. Many, faithful and dedicated to the cause of education, have served on school boards since. Pat Biggerstaff served the longest - from 1916 to 1941, less an interval of three years between 1926 and 1929. Close to him in number of years were Lars Walen, Elmer Walen, Andrew Sharpe, and Lawrence Utke. No one yet has equaled the record of Harland Erickson, who has served as clerk of the school district since 1946, and continues in that office.

Teachers and pupils came and went in those early years. There were programs and play days, lessons and report cards. Two years of high school classes were added in 1918, when Esther Johnson was the teacher. The high school expanded slowly, but at long last - 1930 - the first senior class was graduated. Members of that first class were Dorothy Dunbar, Clara Halvorson, Elva Hendrickson, Margaret Johnson, and Hazel Martin; the superintendent was Martin Holter. Of the 42 classes which have been graduated since then, a class of three in 1952, was the smallest, a class of 25 in 1967, the largest.

At first the curriculum in this new school offered only the simple requirements. Later some enrichment programs were added. Ruth Lawrence was the first music major to be hired (1930), and vocal music has been emphasized and many honors won ever since. Merle Linn organized an orchestra in 1935. Those were depression years, and one of the main criterions for participating was either being able to borrow an instrument or already having one in the family to use. That is why, although the first year's instrumentation was much better, the second year's group included seven trumpets, five clarinets, one alto, one baritone, and one drum - a perfect example of achievement through determination that has characterized so many teachers and students through the history of this school.

J.W. Ewert started a band again in 1950, and in 1952, Alton Hegvik was named director. Bands and band members have won prizes and honors for Glenfield ever since. Mr. Hegvik, having just completed his 20th year here, holds another record: no other teacher has stayed with the system so long.

As Glenfield prospered, the enrollment grew, and by the late '20s, the original schoolhouse had become too small. The first of several additions was built in 1928, two rooms along the north, first housing intermediate and upper grades, later the high school assembly.

The second addition was a gymnasium on the west. Before this time, basketball in Glenfield had a history of its own. In 1927, the top floor of the town hall on Main Street, the Thurlow building, had been rented so that basketball might be introduced to the school. The hall was long and narrow, the ceiling was 10 feet high, the coach admittedly knew nothing about basketball, the children had never seen the game. They didn't make a single score in their first competitive game, but Melvin Watne made one, a free throw, during the second game at Courtenay - and basketball in Glenfield was on its way.

The second year the program was moved to the ground floor in the same hall, but the next season no place at all could be found to rent. The school board then purchased the old Congregational Church in 1930, for use as a gym. The ceilings were higher in this new place, but the floor was small, there was little room for spectators, the big heater in the corner with its monstrous tin shield was a hazard to the players. Students ran across the street from the schoolhouse in gym clothes, often in 20 below weather, until tiny little dressing rooms were partitioned off under the stage, one on each side of the coal bin. Austerity was indeed the one big word in those hard times, economy and frugality the only real guidelines for everything. And yet somehow in this bleak shell of a building, with its crude and make-shift features, prize-winning plays were staged; championship basketball teams were developed. Ruth Johnson had been the first girls' coach back in 1927. John Benson was the first boys' coach, and LeRoy Alfson made them champions - just four years after a most inauspicious beginning.

This new gymnasium, which at long last also meant modern facilities for the entire schoolhouse, was added in 1952. It was built largely with volunteer labor, the men with hammers and saws, the ladies with food and coffee when the crews were the largest. Even the rich velvet curtains hanging on the stage were purchased, following a lucrative special drive for alumni contributions.

Reorganization of school districts throughout North Dakota became the trend in the '50s, and Glenfield was no exception. There were countless meetings, much emotion, some compromises, and many elections as districts took on new shapes and dimensions. A final election in 1961, combined Glenfield and Sutton into one district and gave it its present boundaries, placing the elementary grades one through six in Sutton, with grades seven through 12 in Glenfield. The Sutton School was new and adequate; another addition had to be built at Glenfield.

These were better times, and for once both beauty and usefulness could be emphasized. This was the time for innovations like science laboratories, sophisticated equipment, a large and pleasant library, a modern and convenient kitchen. The curriculum, too, was expanded by adding more science, more math, more business, a foreign language, football. And at last, for the first time in its history, the Glenfield-Sutton School (now Class B) earned an Accredited rating among the schools in North Dakota. Ray Starks was the enterprising superintendent during these years of change and improvement.

Today, looking at this building, one realizes that a persevering person might be able to count the bricks, or at least the windowpanes, one sees here. No one, however, could begin to count the memories it holds for all the people who have been involved with it in the past in some way or other. There would be no possible way either of measuring the contributions, the time spent, the influence, the effect, the worth of the many people who have passed through its doors.

This building, surrounded by trees that someone in the past took time to plant and to care for, will have to stand as a tribute to all the students, parents, teachers, superintendents, county superintendents, custodians, bus drivers, school board members, taxpayers, patrons who supported enthusiastically every event that was ever sponsored by the school.

All these are the ones who took an early settlers' dream and brought it through 57 years with honor and credit. They're the ones who made yesterday's dream our school today - Glenfield-Sutton High School, Accredited, Glenfield-Sutton Public School District No. 14, Foster, and Griggs Counties, North Dakota.

The 15 years from 1972-1987 have continued to be times of change and growth. In the fall of 1975, the fifth and sixth grades were moved from Sutton to the Glenfield building with grades one through four following them in 1978. In 1980, a trial merger with McHenry was instituted with the official formation of the Glenfield-Sutton-McHenry District approved in July 1985. At this time the maroon and white school colors were changed to navy blue, Columbia blue and white, and the Demon mascot became the Bruin.

The 1980 graduating class was pleased to invite the members of the first Glenfield graduating class to its ceremony. How unique that all five members were well and able to attend!

The 1979-80 school year was also auspicious in that the basketball team participated in the State Class B Tourney. The loss of all games that year was redeemed the following season when the G-S-? team returned to Bismarck and came home with the third place trophy. The entire sports program has been rewarding with a number of students participating at the state level in track and taking second place in baseball in 1981, and in the 9-man football cooperative with Cooperstown in 1984.  Music is also a strong activity with two concerts a year, a grade Christmas program, and vocal and instrumental star ratings at district contests and state competitions.

Academics has retained its high priority and a large percentage of students further their education after graduation. The school, which has been a gelding force in the Glenfield-Sutton-McHenry communities, has given society contributing citizens who take pride in their roots and look fondly back to their school days.

Source:  Glenfield History 1886 – 1987 Page 115

Good Citizenship Days

February 13, 1896 - February is the month of great birthdays. There are two that we ought to make great and eventful days in the life of every child and person in every school of the state.

These great names will live and be loved through centuries.

Abraham Lincoln, born February 12, 1809, died April 6, 1865.

George Washington, born February 22, 1732, died Dec. 14, 1799.

I respectfully recommend that these days be made memorable by appropriate exercises in the schools to the end that an impressive and lasting lesson will be taught of love for our land of liberty; pride in her honor; self-sacrifice for her preservation; respect for personal integrity; admiration for honest politics; determination to be intelligent, bright, and law-abiding, America loving citizens.

By laudation of the virtues of noble characters, children are taught those virtues.

The peace, safety and prosperity of our state depends upon the virtue and honesty of each and all of her citizens. Let all reasonable effort be made in the schools at all times to build character that will be a glory and power to the individual and the state.

Suggested Methods

Decorate the room with flags.

Give each child a flag.

Have pictures of the character whose birthday is celebrated.

Have quotations from his own sayings and the sayings of others about him.

Sing patriotic songs.

March with flags in hands to patriotic airs.

Have drawings on the blackboards or walls, or pictures illustrating events in the life of the man, and the nation at that time.

Give salute during the exercises.

The salute: "I give my head and my heart to my country; one country, one language, one flag."

Make the exercises such that the man and his noblest characteristics will impress themselves, not such that the children will go home feeling that they have been the chief characters.

Invite parents and citizens to be present and assist.

In every school of every rank let us aim to rise on the 12th and 22nd to an enthusiasm of patriotic zeal after which we shall all, young and old, love our country and our national emblem, the flag, much more than ever before.

For the good of our state, our nation, and our homes.

Emma F. Bates,

State Superintendent

Source:  Glenfield History 1886 – 1987 Page 117

Teacher Wages Are Cut $10-$20 Month

$65 for Rural Teacher Job is Lowest Salary Here;

All Districts Cut Wages

July 28, 1932 - Teachers salaries have been cut from $10 to $20 a month in the new contracts signed for the 1932-33 term, it is shown in the contracts that have been filed in the office of the county superintendent of schools.

Eastman is hiring its new teachers at $70 and $75, after paying $90 and $95 last year.

Glenfield's grade teachers will receive $90 each, instead of $110.

McHenry's grade teachers will get $90 a month, a sharp cut from the $110 they received last year.

Campbell district has cut wages from $90 to $70 and $75.

All the town schools of the county will be hard hit by the new 50 percent tax assessment law, and will be short on funds this year.

The Carrington school, in excellent financial condition otherwise, expects to be $5,000 short of balancing its budget. The annual tax reports of the Grace City and Juanita school districts show that their cash balance has been wiped out and they are in debt. The Larrabee district (Grace City) report shows the district $4,219 "in the red", while Dewey district (Juanita) has a debt of $1,802. Financial reports for other districts were not available this week.

1n each case, both in the towns and rural districts, the schools are handicapped by the large amount of unpaid taxes in their districts. They are carried as an asset in  determining the amount of taxes that can be levied by the school and result in cutting down the school's income.

To meet expenses, the county superintendent explains, the school districts have the right to either vote an increase in their tax levy or issue certificates of indebtedness.

If the school officers decide to hold a public election to increase the levy, a motion to that effect is made by the school board before August 1, and is recorded in their school records. Then a special election is called in that district to vote on the proposal, with a two-thirds vote necessary to increase the levy. The limit is a 50 percent increase over the present legal limit.

Source:  Glenfield History 1886 – 1987 Page 117

Band Attends Concert

May 3, 1956 - Band Master Alton Hegvik, Carl Johnson and Lawrence Utke, drove to Moorhead Wednesday to take 15 members of the school band, there they attended a symphony concert.

Thursday Miss Fritz and Mrs. H. G. Hendrickson took the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade children to the YCL Convention at Carrington. A number of the mothers drove to take the group.

Friday the annual spring band concert and music program was presented by the school. Many from out-of-town attended. The following numbers were given: beginner's band, two numbers; trombone solo, David Hendrickson; flute solo, Joanne Gader; clarinet duet, Sandra Lutz and Judy Ann Edland; clarinet solo, Marilyn Walen; coronet solo, John Hendrickson; saxophone solo, Charles Burk; sousaphone solo, Elton Erickson. Song plays: "The Sewing Mice," grades 1 and 2; "The Princess Who Wouldn't Eat," grades 3, 4, and 5. Eight numbers and an encore were played by the school band, Alton Hegvik, director. Grand song plays under supervision of Hildred Hendrickson and L. Mae Wallum.

Source:  Glenfield History 1886 – 1987 Page 118

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