Students attending Grant School are making history come alive with their research on four schools north of the Kansas River.
Fifth- and sixth-grade students at Grant School are going to new schools.
Or rather old ones, but hearing the history of the four schools that once made up the districts north of the Kansas River is a first-time experience.
"I lived less than a half-mile from school," 85-year-old Howard Pine told students on a visit to Grant School. "I walked across a field. We used to catch gophers and take 'em to the county courthouse. We got 10 cents a pelt."
Pine's story is just one the students have heard about since writing letters to former students who attended White, Oak Ridge, Burnett and Bismarck schools.
White School is located in North Lawrence and has been used as a rental space for parties since it closed its doors to students. Oak Ridge School is located north of Grant School and is a private residence. Burnett School is located at the corner of Midland junction north of Lawrence, and Bismarck School was located on a county road south of where Grant now sits.
The schools were consolidated into District No. 100, Grant, in 1962, when enrollment dropped and the individual schools could not stay open.
Carl Schaake, a 1935 graduate of Burnett School, recalls entering school in the first grade.
"We didn't have kindergarten then," he said. "And we had an eight-month year so the kids could get home and get to work. The city schools were nine months, but we went eight."
Grant students will study the four schools' history throughout the semester and will visit all four sites.
"It's important for all people to have a sense of history," Grant School teacher Beth Cigler said. "It's important we learn as much as we can while these people are still alive."
The project has involved many people of all ages from the Grant area, Cigler said.
"There's a renewed sense of enthusiasm in the community," she said.
Sixth-grader Kelli Hartford said the history lesson is an important one.
"We feel good about our history and we feel good about ourselves," she said.
Kelli said she has a new appreciation for attending a school that comes standard with indoor plumbing, electricity and teachers who aren't as strict as those of years past. "Discipline was a lot harder then," she said. "There are rules now that a teacher can't physically harm a student."
The students will present their findings to community members at an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. May 16.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.