Thursday, January 24, 2008

High School in the 1930's

Ruth Baird Shaw, Clara Daniel, Lenora Farrow Mills, Gladys Newnan.

People keep asking about reports cards in Public Schools during the late 1920's and 1930's. In our Georgia small-town school, we were graded A, B, C, D or F. I do not remember anything about the grading system or how I scored in First and Second grades. I do know that I never received a D or an F and do not remember many A's. I was generally a B student. I usually sat quietly and went unnoticed in class, speaking only when spoken to.

This post could be entitled "The difference a kind teacher makes." One of my teachers. Miss Willie Hayne Hunt, tried to encourage me by telling me I was probably the " best mathematician that ever walked in the school door." This kind of remark from a teacher made a big difference in the way I saw myself as a student. I began to find algebra and geometry problems not just easy but fun to do.

In several posts I have spoken of myself as a "painfuly shy child." On the other hand I told in another post about being chosen to walk up on the large stage in the school auditorium to tell a Bible story one morning in "Chapel", our three times a week school assembly time. So perhaps my "painfully shy" period started after first grade. I read recently that nearly one third of the population considers themselves to be shy.

The Ninth Grade was the last grade offered in our community school. If one desired to attend school after the ninth grade, he/she had to pay tuition and find transportation to Covington, our Newton County seat, to finish tenth and eleventh grade and receive a High School Diploma. So the Ninth Grade was the end of school for many students in the thirties if they did not have to stop and find a paying job earlier.

My widowed mother somehow managed the tuition cost for me to attend Covington high School and another small transportation fee to Louise Walton, a girl in my class who had bought a car. I rode with Louise to Covington every school day for a full semester. Alas, she dropped out. (Perhaps High school students then as now may spend more time with their cars than their books!)

With no transportation to Covington after the first semester in the tenth grade, I then transfered to Livingston High School, a county High School. I walked with 2 other girls and a boy the mile or so every morning to the far end of our community to catch the school bus to ride to the country school where I finished the tenth grade with only two units left to graduate.

One of the things I remember about Covington High School in the semester I attended was an assigment to write a story of fiction. I remember working on the story but do not remember anything about it. It was basically a rearrangement of something I had read (which is probably why I do not remember anything about the story.) When we take short cuts or cheat on anything, we only cheat ourselves.

Another day while i was a student at Covington High, we went to Chapel where someone introduced a blind and deaf lady and illustrated how she communicated. This memory is too vague for me to be sure of details. I keep thinkig it must have been Helen Keller and her teacher? Did Keller and her teacher visit High Schools In Georgia in 1938? Who else could it me? I believe that the famed Annie Sullevan, Helen's first teacher died in 1936. Polly Thomson, assisted Sullevan later and became became Helen's teacher after Annie Sullevan's death.

I especially remember one of the teachers at Livingston High School, (the school where I transfered after my friend with a car left Covington High). The unforgetable teacher at Livingston was a widow in perpetual black dress. She was always openly counting the days until the end of the school year. I do not know how long she had been a widow, but this thin and sad looking lady in her "widow's weeds" each day would tell us how she was counting the days until the end of her days as a teacher. Then she would remind us how many days were left in the school year. She called herself the "walking calendar."

Post Script: The above picture was taken in 1943. Porterdale establised a High School in 1940. Older students were allowed to attend. My husband went back to classes and graduated in 1942 and i in 1943. We had two precious little girls at the time I graduated. But I needed only two units so it required little of my time.

Interestingly, this High School work from three schools proved to be adequate preparation for college work when I was finally able to began my delightful "hobby" of college classes here and there in my "spare time."


Carol said...

Wouldn't that have been something if Hellen Keller had visited your school? We'll have to research it and see if she visited schools during that time frame.

iserve pharmacy said...

how nostalgic! I remember when I was a student during the great depression.