Everyone has heard a tale or two about the one-room school houses of yesteryear. Come and see if the stories are just tall tales at the Independence School House Fall Celebration Thursday, October 30, at Rend Lake College.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Independence School, located on the north side of the RLC Campus in Ina, and is sponsored by the Rend Lake College Foundation Institute for Learning in Retirement.
Highlights of the day will include the story of Woods School by Dr. Barbara Luchsinger, RLC English Professor, and a presentation on the history of Independence School by Ina historian David Goss. Testimonials from former students also will be presented and lunch will be served by Classic Catering of Pinckneyville. Pumpkins, apples and door prizes will be given away.
Pat Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the Rend Lake College Foundation, said the purpose of the celebration is to make people aware Independence School is here and to promote the school’s use by the community.
She said the school house is being used at present, but not to its fullest potential due to a lack of parking area and other factors. Mitchell said the Foundation is looking for people to help with donations to improve the building to allow for more use.
Independence School, a one-room school house which cost $200 when it was built in 1917, is a part of the Rend Lake College Prairie Restoration Project. It was moved in December 1995 from its original site at the intersection of Thompsonville and Ewing roads after it was scheduled to be demolished in favor of a new fire station.
The school house includes the original black-slate chalkboard, a stove made by Benoist Brothers of Mt. Vernon, antique school desks and books, and an old piano.
After declining enrollments and consolidation caused the school to cease operations, the building served as a polling place and a meeting place for local 4-H Clubs and briefly housed the congregation of Liberty Baptist Church.
RLC now makes the school house available to the public for meetings of area schools and community groups.
According to Goss’ research, classes usually were held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with children in all eight grades learning cooperatively in the classroom. Walking to school in the rain meant helping each other dry out around the coal stove prior to the start of classes. In the early 1900s, children rarely were let out of school for holidays; they were off on Thanksgiving Day and were allowed two days off for Christmas.
During the 1929-1930 school year, the teacher, Howard Richardson, was paid $100 per month. At the time, Richardson had two years of high school and 18 months of normal school.
The public is invited to this free event. Attendees are asked to RSVP by Tuesday, October 28, by calling the Rend Lake College Foundation at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1213