Alumni visit North Morenci School 2011.09.08

Written by David Green.

zachel_school.alumniBy DAVID GREEN

The ball field was over there. Over here is where we jumped rope. There was another outhouse next to that one for the girls.

More than 70 years have passed since some of the guests at the North Morenci school first took their seat in the one-room schoolhouse at the corner of M-156 and Ridgeville Road.

Former students were encouraged to share their memories of the school during an open house Saturday afternoon. Their stories were recorded and will be made into a DVD to play when contemporary students visit the school.

The former students talked about the subjects taught at the school and explained that a final test was taken in Adrian.

Spelling bees were always scheduled, much to the chagrin of Jay Gould.

“I wasn’t any good at it, and I haven’t improved, either,” he said.

That wasn’t the case for Zella Sallows. She remembers winning the contest.

The annual Christmas program was always a big event.

“We practiced for about a month,” Twila Knoblauch said. “One of the mothers came and played the organ.”

There were plays and recitations and songs—always scheduled in the evening to encourage a large attendance.

“Standing room only,” Jay said.

Elizabeth Barron remembered a poem she had to recite:

“I am a little curly head

My father is a teacher

I like to go to Sunday School

And sit beside the preacher.”

She really was a little curly head when she recited the poem, Elizabeth said later, and she remembers speaking the words very quickly because she couldn’t wait to get back to her seat.

Students from several schools met in Adrian for a graduation ceremony.zachel_school.students

Latham Coffin was mentioned as a favorite teacher. Jay remembered him ice skating to school from his home near Clayton.

“He used his own car and taught us to drive in the eighth grade,” Twila said. “He taught us to drive after school. He taught us how to park and how to change a tire. He was a wonderful teacher.”

Recess is remembered fondly. Games included jump rope, pom-pom pull away,  Red Rover, inny eye over and baseball.

“If you hit it over the road you got a home run,” Zella said. “I got it once.”

Twila contrasted efforts today to prevent the spread of germs with the school’s drinking water system of the past.

“We had a pump on the other side of the school,” she said. “We would pump a pail full of water and bring it in. There was one dipper and if you wanted a drink of water, you would take that dipper and we all used the same dipper.”

There was also a small hole in the mouth of the pump, Jay recalled. If you held your hand over the mouth, a stream of water would shoot out like a drinking fountain.

There were eight grades at the school—usually about 30 children—and the teacher called up one class at a time to sit on a bench in front of the teacher for lessons.

The remainder of the class behaved, especially those who were taught by the strict Mr. Ramshire.

“He could take after you and catch you, too,” Jay said.

“That sounds like the voice of experience,“ joked Morenci Education Foundation president Bill VanValkenburg, who led the discussion.

“He chased one guy and caught him, didn’t he?” Zella remembered.

“That guy could run fast and thought he could out-run him,” Jay said, “but he got him down the road.”

Bill said later that the Morenci Education Foundation—now the owners of the property—intend to make a few adjustments at the school in an effort to create a functioning one-room schoolhouse for students to visit.

“We want to maintain what John and Peggy Zachel did, but take it one step further,” he said. “We want to let kids experience what a day at school was like.”

For example, there are only nine desks in the school and another 20 or so will be needed. Bill hears from former students that the teacher’s desk was at the west end of the school, so the desks should be turned around and another blackboard will be needed to replace the missing one.

“It’s going to be challenging to find that,” he said.

• To order a copy of the DVD that will be produced, contact Rev. Bill VanValkenburg at the Seneca Community Church.

To make a donation to the schoolhouse maintenance fund, make sure the foundation knows that your gift should be given for that purpose.

Donors can specify how they want their gift  to the foundation used—scholarships, mini-grants for teachers, schoolhouse restoration—whenever a donation is made, VanValkenburg said. Otherwise the money will be placed in the general fund.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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