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JIM: Education makes the headlines, early September 1928

Early September 1928 found education front and center on the front page of the News And this still relevant quote from the most eloquent spokesperson for enlightened, bare majority of the citizenry, in words that ring true fourscore and ten years later: "Our public school system should be jealously guarded and fostered. The children of today will constitute the active citizenship of tomorrow. They should have the opportunity to prepare for the proper discharge of the duties that may devolve upon them." - JUDGE H.C. BAKER.
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By JIM

The Columbia High & Graded School opened on Monday, September 3, 1928, with around 525 students in attendance. The entire staff consisted of six high school teachers, including Superintendent L.H. Lutes and Principal Mary Lucy Lowe; six graded school teachers; and three specialty instructors, Mrs. C.M. (Angeline) Russell and Mrs. Eros (Myrtle) Barger, Music. and Mrs. Ray (Ruth) Montgomery, Expression. The better remembered names among the other faculty include those of Mrs. Demaree (Mary) Richards, Mrs. Mary Biggs, Mrs. Morris (Mabel) Epperson, and Mrs. Frances Montgomery.



A de facto middle school was established
This year, for the first time (and following a national trend), the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades were organized by department and subjects were taught by specific teachers, creating a de facto middle school.

Classrooms were at capacity
The following week, the first "Graded & High School Notes" newsletter of the academic year reported that the "teachers in the grades have all the students their rooms will hold." The letter also stated that a new bookcase had been added to the school library and that several new volumes graced the shelves. A special thank you went to Mrs. Daisy Hamlett, owner/editor of the newspaper for her campaign in the News to raise money for chairs for the recently completed auditorium, and to the "many patrons and friends of the school" who had donated chairs. It went on to mention that another hundred chairs were needed for the first floor of the auditorium and expressed the hope they might be provided in the near future.

Lindsey Wilson High School and Junior College enrollment up, too
Meanwhile, classes for the Lindsey Wilson high school and junior college opened on Tuesday, September 11, with a "substantial increase" from the previous year in the college enrollment and "prospects most flattering" overall. Improvements over the summer in laboratory equipment, making it "now possible to offer a strong premedical course," and "The regular academy course is as strong as ever and a full commercial course is being offered."

Judge Baker's op-ed piece (on the front page, back then)
Shortly after the Graded & High School opened, the News ran a front page op-ed written by Judge Herschel Clay Baker, Adair County's senior member of the bar and a long time proponent for better education. Judge Baker, then approaching his 87th birthday, contrasted the five hundred and more current students with enrollment in earlier years, when "the attendance of the public school averaged less than half a hundred" and "the school, in the estimation of the public, seemed of very little importance." He went on to point out that "when the proposition was submitted for the establishment of a graded school here, it was opposed even bitterly" by many, including a number of Adair County's leading citizens, and that the proposition, when put to the vote, passed by the narrowest of margins.

Continued Judge Baker, in words that ring true fourscore and ten years later,

"Our public school system should be jealously guarded and fostered. The children of today will constitute the active citizenship of tomorrow. They should have the opportunity to prepare for the proper discharge of the duties that may devolve upon them."


This story was posted on 2018-09-09 08:27:44
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