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Green, Joy Martinson / Malone School : District No. 2, Springdale Township, Dane County, WI : a compilation of memorabilia

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One room,
lots of learning
People who attended the Malone School enter the former one-room school near
Mount Horeb Sunday on a tour during a reunion.
Former pupils of Malone School
gather to share memories
Jim Crimmins of Algonquin, Ill.,
shows his wife, Nancy, and his grand-
daughter Katie Rayas an old class
photo of himself when he was a stu-
dent at the Malone School.
By Ann Made Ames
Carrespondent for The Capital Times
MOUNT HOREB - Bigger isn't
necessarily better, at least not
according to the former stu-
dents and teachers of the
Malone School, a one-room
schoolhouse that served farm families near
the unincorporated town of Mount Vernon.
More than 50 people gathered Sunday after-
noon to share memories at the first-ever
Malone School reunion. The event was cen-
tered at Deer Creek Sportsman's Lodge in
Mount Vernon, but shuttles to the former
schoolhouse ran regularly.
"It was a close-knit community," said Isabel
Lienau, an educator of 44 years who was
teaching 28 students in seven grades at
Malone School when it closed its doors in
1962. "You can see that from the way so many
people traveled so far to be here today, and
by the way we're having such a good time."
The former school building, now a private
home, is located on Wisconsin 92, three miles
south of Mount Horeb. It served students in
the first through eighth grades until its clo-
sure. Due to declining enrollment, a state law
forced rural schools to close or associate with
a school district.
Attendees at the reunion recalled their expe-
riences and the educational opportunities
they had that they say are just not available in
larger schools.
See MALONE, Page 4A
The Capital Times
September 19, 2005
Former students of Malone School In Mount Vernon chat
about the old times at their first reunion Sunday at Deer
Creek Sportsman's Lodge.
0 Continued from Page 1A
"We learned from each
other," said Verna Fargo, 92,
who was the oldest former
pupil to attend Sunday's reun-
ion. "By the time you got to
eighth grade you knew the ma-
terial, because you'd heard it
all recited before."
Fargo, who graduated from
Malone in 1925, explained that
students sat in double desks. A
boy and a girl would sit to-
"Usually a seventh-grade
boy and a first-grade girl, so
they wouldn't fight," she ex-
The teacher would call each
class by grade to the front of
the room to recite lessons, one
subject at a time. In the mean-
time, other students would
study at their desks or play
"First-, second- and third-
graders went out to play to-
gether," said Bill Steinhauer,
the transportation coordinator
for the Mount Horeb Area
School District. "The third-
graders were expected to be in
His brother, Irv Steinhauer,
65, remembers the boys being
assigned a "special project" to
keep them busy while the
teacher was helping other stu-
"We were sent down to the
Deer Creek to build dams," he
said. 'We did such a good job
that we actually made the
stream below the dams dry up.
We'd come back to school wet
and muddy. Nowadays we'd be
in jail, but the teacher needed
us out of her hair."
Nearly every former student
of the school, which opened in
1908, recalled how beneficial
it was to have young students
and older students learning to-
"There was never a matter
of students bullying, because
they created an environment
that gave students responsibil-
ities in proportion to their age
and wisdom," said Dennis
Thomson, a professor of mete-
orology at Penn State. "Older
students helped younger stu-
dents. I'm probably a univer-
sity professor today because of
that very early training in edu-
cation ethics. Those seeds are
sown very early."
Lienau agreed.
"I never had any discipline
trouble," she said. "The older
children looked out for the
littler ones."
Thomson, who graduated
from Malone School in 1955,
added that another benefit was
that each student had an as-
signed chore every day.
"Every day you had a job -
sweeping, cleaning erasers or
cleaning the bathroom. You
then had an investment, an
ownership of the school,"
Thomson said.
One disadvantage was the
limited number of resources
available in the tiny school.
The library consisted of one
bookshelf for all eight grades.
"I bet I read that book about
railroads 10 times," Thomson
Dorothy Bliskey, a freelance
writer living in Fond du Lac,
said rural schools in Dane
County did have some advan-
tage over schools in other
areas because of the proximity
to UW-Madison.
"Someone was always com-
ing out from the university
with programs about nature or
music that were designed for
rural schools," said Bliskey.

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