Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More About Schools

I've talked about Collecting the History of Our Schools in an earlier post. The current oral history grant that I am working on for Emery County Archives is about the consolidation of schools, specifically the high schools. Emery County originally had the three high schools North, South, and Central. North Emery was located in Huntington, Central was in Castle Dale and South Emery was in Ferron. Eliminating Central School was the first of the consolidations in 193? and then in 1962, North and South Emery were eliminated and all students in Emery County, except for Green River which had to have its own school because of the distance from the other Emery County towns) went to a new Emery High School, which is still the current school. We are able to get these grants through  Utah State Historical Society and the Utah Humanities Council 

Oral histories are important because they are first hand records of places and events. You learn details of the past that you can't find in history books. For instance you may read that the elementary school in Huntington burned down in 1921, but it becomes more than just a fact when you hear Addie Richards tell you that the children marched out of the school as they had done during fire drills with the teacher playing a march on the piano until every student was out, and that as she watched her school burn her greatest regret was that she left her beautiful new coat in the school, and that the school board would not build a fires escape (I imagine they had no money with which to build one), so the teachers and principal had fund raising and built the fire escape not long before the fire happened, so every child made it out safely, and they had to attend school in people's homes until there was a new school built. Those details make history fabulously interesting.
Addie's high school--North Emery High 1928
Addie's junior high in 1925

Well, I'm getting side tracked. I am writing about the high schools in the area, not the elementary schools. Addie attended North Emery in this building to the right. It later became the elementary school, but it had the gymnasium and so that was still used by the high school for games and dances. Addie's album lists the above photograph as her junior high school--the building we know as North Emery on Main Street.
North Emery High School
Some of the people I interviewed in 2011 went to North Emery High in 1960 and 61. It was an old building then. Kent Powell described the North Emery High School experience as feeling like a campus. They attended classes in the two story building; there was a bas relief of George Washington just inside the entrance. It had an old academic feel about it. The gym and dressing rooms were in the building on the west part of the campus--north of that was the elementary school, and in between was the seminary building. The old church on main street--to the north of the high school was where they had plays and assemblies. The lunch building was across main street to the east. So it was a five building campus. According to another student, there was a hamburger place next to the school, so instead of going across the street to the lunch room, some students would grab a hamburger instead. Mrs. Johansen who taught P.E. discouraged this telling the students it would ruin their health and affect their unborn children.

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