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Jacksonville Grade School

June 1, 2013

Jacksonville Grade School

1914-1961

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

As this month of May comes to a close, I think of the closing of my beloved Jacksonville Grade School in May of 1961—the year when seventeen other students and I completed the fifth grade at this Hoosier school in Vermillion County. My sister, Mary Elizabeth Massa Fanyo, was among the nine students in the final eighth-grade class to be graduated from Jacksonville Grade School, located in Blanford, Indiana. At the time of the school’s closing, Mr. William Payton was the principal, as well as the teacher of the seventh and eighth grades. In addition to Mr. Payton, three other teachers and
eighty-eight students populated the old, two-story, brick schoolhouse during its last school year of 1960-1961.

Sadly, after the closing of the school, the building, which was in the center of one rural block, was eventually torn down. As a sweet memento of this dear school, I still proudly have a brick from Jacksonville Grade School. Another precious remembrance of my grade school is a commemorative plate, on which is a picture of Jacksonville Grade School.

To help celebrate the Jacksonville Grade School reunion of July 16, 2000, I wrote the following poem and had it printed on greeting cards for alumni of Jacksonville Grade School.

For Jacksonville Grade School Alumni

Let us draw together
to gather the memories
of that old schoolhouse which we once called our own:
the core of our community–
in life and learning, our cornerstone.

No videos exist, but a photograph will do
to send the thoughts back to those special years for you.
Remember the merry-go-round,
the teeter-totters and slide,
the out-houses and baseball field,
the stairways–so high and wide.
Remember the fish pond for Fall Festival,
the auditorium filled for PTA,
the ink wells and initials on those precious wooden desks,
extraordinary teachers–each September through May.

For all that we lived and learned there,
for all that we celebrated and shared,
let us honor Jacksonville Grade School and its alumni!
Let the green and gold flag of good memories fly!

Post-script: If you are a former student of Jacksonville Grade School or another small, rural school, please write, in the comment section of this blog, a special memory of your grade school.

With special thanks to those extraordinary teachers of Jacksonville Grade School—
wonderful teachers who inspired my sister, two cousins, and me to become teachers,

Alice

May 31, 2013, Friday

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3 Comments
  1. I will always remember the wooden desks tightly secured to the floor in long, straight rows; the classrooms with two grades in each room; the creaky stairs and floors; and the large playground with massive equipment, plenty of space for a ball diamond, and lots of room to play Red Rover. The teachers were respected by all family members, and the students quietly worked to learn and to succeed.
    Carole Lanzone Morgan

    • Carole–Thanks for adding your “two-cents” worth which, at that time, could have bought us a small glass bottle of milk to accompany a sack lunch. See you soon! AJM

  2. You could have substituted Universal School in almost any line and the experience would have been the same. I think they rotated the teachers through all of the township buildings and for sure the buildings were given the same allotment by Louis Giovanini, the township trustee.

    My admiration for those teachers has continued to grow as I have gotten older and realize what things were really like for those folks. As a teacher We complained about bathroom breaks, or lack there of, and didn’t have to walk up and down stairs and outside like they did. Lack of readiness and ESL students were common as were late buses and no lunches, Yet they prepared many students for fine careers despite limited supplies and resources and they certainly broadened the horizons of all they taught. They knew all about classic stories and storytelling; Annabelle Hunter, at Universal, was a magnificent storyteller with her “Benny” character. I had no idea what a gift that was. I just knew I enjoyed it! Our grammar skills and mastery of arithmetic were top notch, and we knew the names of many countries and explorers and could even identify the countries on those old pull down maps.

    What a gift we were given by these fine folks. It was indeed a calling and a highly esteemed position in our communities. Thanks for bringing it all alive in your fine writing.

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