York Town Square

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One-room school reunions preserve educational culture of thousands of York countians

This Newberry Township home, seen in a 2004 photo, was once a one-room school. A sampling of those gathering at a Newberry Township one-room school reunion over the weekend could not identify the building. Can you? The stonework suggests the red sandstone of that region. This photograph appeared in the York Daily Record/Sunday News book “All in One Room.” Background posts: Solo teachers in York County one-room schools assigned lots of assistants, 18th-century mines gave Ore Valley its name and Can you identify this mystery school, believed to be in York County?.

“You kind of feel sorry for those who didn’t attend,” a seasoned citizen commented at Newberry Township one-room school reunion on Sunday.
The sentiment that nothing can really better the education received in the 300 one-room schools in York County is part of the discourse at such reunions.
I spoke at the reunion of those attending Cly, River, Hay Run and Pleasant Grove schools in the Newberrytown region north of the Conewago Creek on Sunday. The afternoon at Paddletown United Methodist Church’s community center brought forth revealing information about this educational culture that fell to jointures in the post-World War II years: …

These one-room buildings invariably came with outhouses or privies. But students did not call them that. They were known primarily known as toilets.
– Discipline was not only meted out with paddles. Sometimes, hoses were used.
– One reunion member figured out how his teacher developed eyes in the back of his head. He sported a shiny ring that revealed the happenings in the small room even when he had his head down.
– I conjectured at one point that maybe three-quarters of the one-room buildings remained standing in York County. The small sample of those present gave that estimate support. Three of the four buildings represented in the reunion were standing – River has been demolished. Four of the five Monaghan Township one-room buildings are standing. Now, some of the rectangular schoolhouses around the county are in bad shape, and a handful possibly pass from sight every years.
– One story always resonates at such reunions: The past practice of teachers to try to turn southpaws into righthanders.
Luther Yohe, writing in the Spring Grove Ripplet years ago, told a story that still bring tears to the eye:

“I, too, can recall when my first grade teacher … paddled a little girl’s fingers so unmercifully for writing with her left hand … as the little girl cried and cried, yet the beating went on while I sat there in sheer pity and had to try hard to keep from crying myself.”

Sometimes, the good old days are not always good.
For a site filled with info on one-room school, click here.
For numerous York Town Square blog posts touching on one-room schools, visit: Old schools.