We recently had a "meeting of the minds" regarding the progression of the Ellendale Public School system. There is a planned effort to recall some history from yesteryear that has developed into the school system as it is known today. We know that the first graduating class in 1922 was a class of three students, but there are other things to consider that we easily forget or never knew about.
For example, we remember when the Ellendale district paired and shared educational resources with the Geneva school, then with the combined district of New Richland-Hartland. But how much knowledge do we have of all those little country schools that closed and consolidated along the way?
Information from our readers who still remember when their neighborhood’s rural school became part of the Ellendale, and later Ellendale-Geneva, school systems, would be greatly appreciated. If we were to have a history of education, it would be best to acquire thoughts and memories while there are still individuals to share them. We tend to put these facts in the back of our minds; and of course some things were before our time.
With 957 students in our present school system, a total of 473 at Ellendale and 484 in 6-12th grade at New Richland, it may be hard to vision what it was like back then. Geneva had two years of advanced education, or high school, in those early years. I remember my aunt Helyn speaking of attending school and staying with my Grandma Hanson’s brother, Hans’s, family. Unfortunately I didn't ask enough, and she can no longer talk about those early years. Is there anyone who can help fill in the blanks, so to speak? It would be appreciated.
We had a very impressive girls’ basketball team this year. We also had an impressive girls’ basketball team many years ago. Helen Johnson Davidson, Floyd Davidson’s mother, was one team member. How did it happen that when at one time, girls had competitive sports that were later dropped for a number of years? When did they start again as an organized competitive team instead of a physical education or noon hour mural game?
There are people who valued education and gave their all to support it, including those who taught classes that are no longer offered or absorbed into other classes. Names like Dr. Ertel, L. A. Arnold, Mr. Skovbroten, Martina McIntyre, and David Garceau come to mind, but there were others in the shadows that were a part of this school’s history. Students today who sometimes turn up their noses at healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunch would hardly believe what the first hot lunches were. Many times it consisted of soup or hot dish cooked in dark corners of the school’s maintenance and furnace room by Eliza Schultz, who led her blind husband to the school each day to cook that kettle of food to be served to students. It was a beginning – or was it? The next day, the leftovers or potatoes brought from home were heated in the old jacketed wood stove in the country school during the winter.
Office classes, like typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping were taught by Agnes Frei at one time, and by Alma Tollefson later in Ellendale. This also included cutting stencils, mimeographs, and copies made by hectograph. Students would be far sighted if they saw machines today that only require a flip or a punch of the finger to do it all.
When first invented, pencils were used more than pen and ink, and teachers did a lot of writing and preparing work and tests that may not have been already printed.
My mother remembers at least 25 years ago, she was taking college classes in Waseca when an instructor said, "We have the capability to teach today by mechanical methods that would be easier and result in a better education where students will learn more and quicker, but it is doubtful it would be accepted because there will always be a need for human intervention."
One wonders where we are headed now and what will one day be obsolete. Education includes learning to live in the times. Home schooling, year-round school, charter schools, private schools and religious schools are non-traditional yet important methods of education.
Are today’s children brighter, more talented and better trained to handle a more complex world? Of course they are in many areas, but not all. If one has access to some of the old books in libraries from those early years, it might surprise you what the student was expected to know by grade levels in those days. More? Less? Different, because the world and expectations have changed. Your thoughts and memories will be appreciated.
Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. Also if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me.
This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:
• Thursday, May 22nd: David Eliason, Christine Thompson Krause, Lori Lembke, Scott Dirksen, Pat Horan, Mark Christensen, Jim Obermoller, Michael Sarver, Roger Thompson, Andrew Grunwald, Karla Hanson, Dick Swift, Chuck & Susan Grubish, Toni and James Perschbacker
• Friday, May 23rd: Stephane Paul Martin, her 5th; Will Richard Utpadel, his 7th: Ilsbeth Wayne, Jeanne Simonson, Melissa Shaunce, Burton Borchert, Orville Langlie, Karen Quam, Rodney & Peggy Sorenson, Duane & Janice Morreim, Jeff & Sara Miller, Rebecca & Tim Brekke
• Saturday, May 24th: David Christensen, Marlyn Swearingen, Reta Draayer, Nina Widlund
• Sunday, May 25th: Dakota Matthew Kath, his 9th: Riley Dean Disher, his 7th; Jack Harpel, Jackie Johnson Miller, Jim Pichner, Cara Christensen, Valerie Peterson, Richard Fetterly, Bill Nechanicky, Rick Miller, Deb Parks, Paul Reese, Troy & Kelly Utpadel, Dave & Barbara Van Gorkom
• Monday, May 26th: Jeff Wayne, Roger Wangsness, Natalie Hanson, Jim Cummins, Jennifer Beaber, Jeremy Beaber, Melissa Redmon, Karey (Kalakian) & Chris Shearman
• Tuesday, May 27th: Eileen Bergland, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Shane Callahan, Stacy Wobschall, Rev. Beaber, Theresa Kasper, Rick Loven, Carolee Broitzman George, Tracy Marcus, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Michael Butler, Steve & Karen Quam, Megan & Joel Cooper
• Wednesday, May 28th: Sara Beth Carlson, her 4th; Lily Lee Olson, her 4th; Madalyn Kehne, Madison Catherine Knudson, Susan Schmidt, Marie Fowler, Rick & Jenny Loberg, Gerritt & Kathy Molenaar
May your special day blossom with many reasons to smile!