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Rappel, Joseph J. / A centennial history of the Manitowoc County school districts and its public school system, 1848-1948
([1948])

Extra curricular common school activities,   pp. 12-13 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 12


system of marking papers at home, and on Saturdays was continued until the
later
1920's after which the week following the administration of the diploma examination
was devoted to grading of the papers by the Board in the county office. When
stand-
ardized tests were instituted, the time required to grade papers had been
cut down
to two days.
    The first diplomas issued to rural school graduates were mailed to the
successful
applicants. It was not until 1903 that Supt. F. C. Christiansen held the
first annual
district school graduating exercise in the Turner's Opera House, in Manitowoc
on
June llth. Forty-five rural school boys and girls graduated. A program of
quartet,
trio, and audience singing was given. A copy of the first graduating exercise
program
is on file in the county office. By that time county spelling, adding, penmanship
and
highest diploma standing contests were held in the forenoon and medals and
prizes
awarded to the winners at the afternoon program.
    The development and improvement of courses of study, school texts, and
stand-
ard tests, as well as the policy of an eighth grade education for every child
in our
county schools, necessitated a testing program, not only for the eighth graders
but for
the children of all grades. Standards of attainment had to be set up for
all grades to
lessen the chances for failure when the child reached the eighth grade. Throughout
the county and the cities testing programs were set up. These tests were
adminiftered
to determine each child's intelligence, his progress in certain subject matter,
and his
general achievement from grade to grade. Through such testing it is possible
to care
for the individual differences existing and to suggest possible means of
overcoming
obvious physical handicaps.
           EXTRA CURRICULAR COMMON SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
    Much of the pioneer social life centered around the district school.
That was real-
ly their community center and was very, very often the scene of true democracy
in
action. The annual school meetings were always well attended and momentous
ques-
tions affecting the district were voted upon and settled. Old school records
reveal
the facts that these annual school meetings were held the last Monday in
September
up to 1875, the last Monday in August up to 1882, the first Monday in July
up to
about 1930, and the second Monday of July after that date.
    Spelling "bees" and literary society meetings were popular
in many county school
districts. Inter-school spelling bees were the cause of much rivalry among
the young
men and women of the districts involved. Literary and debating societies
discussed
such matters as roads, the need for high schools, and other contemporary
matters. The
spelling bee idea was continued in the 1900's when town and county contests
were
held under the leadership of the county superintendents. The literary and
debating
ideas resulted in the later graded school declamatory contests. Several times
each
year the residents of the district would assemble at the school to enjoy
seasonal pro-
grams and the closing day picnic. The latter was often made a very festive
affair
which old-timers still recall with pleasure.
    The turn of the century found a great deal of interest in "singing"
schools con-
ducted by teachers and participated in by the young men and women of the
district
and surrounding communities. The older district residents formed horticultural,
his-
torical, and audubon societies. Farmers' institutes became popular and largely
attend-
ed by the rural residents during the winter months. Hunting and fishing associations
to save and protect wild life were beginning. A Manitowoc County Order of
the Wis-
consin Experiment Association composed of leading county farmers and teachers
was
organized about 1910. From these farm movements there developed under the
direc-
-tion of Supt. C. W. Meisnest the township school fair. At these fairs the
pupils proud-
ly displayed their best school work and garden crops and competed for the
prizes and
honors awarded the winners. By 1930, these school -and town fairs had run
their
course, for with the coming of the automobile the social value of the school
and town
hall was rapidly declining.
    County contests in spelling, adding, and writing, begun in the spring
of 1903 by
Supt. F. C. Christiansen, spread rapidly to town and inter-school contests.
Regular
town 'contests were held in each town each spring and the winners sent to
the county
contests held on the morning of the county graduation day. At the height
of its popu-
larity, contests were held in oral spelling, language, adding, combinations,
music mem-
ory, and in a triangular contest. Later on these contests were changed into
achieve-
ment tests for the several grades enrolled in the rural schools. The popularity
of these
contests lasted until 1938 when they were abandoned.
    The typical community by 1938 included all of the area within a natural
shopping,
business, church, and high school center. The fine roads with modern conveyances
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