I have been enjoying weekly visits to the Entiat School to read with students in Ms. Noel James 2nd grade classroom. I wonder and am in awe at the efficiency, patience, optimism and dedication it takes to be a teacher, no matter what era children grow up in. Today is the first day of a well deserved Spring Break for the Entiat Schools. I sincerely wish teachers and staff a restful and peaceful few days off.
I was recently reading the chapter in Bruce Foxworthy's book Making Do and Hanging On of his experience entering 1st grade in 1931 at the Vaughn School which was a one room building built around 1903 just below the present Cooper's Store. " The first thing I learned in school was how to fold a half-sheet of tablet paper to make a paper cup. That skill was essential because the school's only water supply was in a three-gallon ceramic crock with a spigot at the base. Commercial paper cups, if they existed then, would have been an unacceptable extravagance for our poor school district. To fill the water crock, two of the larger boys got the privilege of taking a bucket down a switch-back trail behind the school to the Entiat River, scooping up a bucketful of river water and carrying it back up the gravelly trail to pour into the crock. Then, the teacher would carefully drip in a few drops of iodine from her first-aid kit and, after an hour or so, we were allowed to get drinks during recesses and lunchtime" Bruce continues his account describing the simple, but sound and functional furnishings of the compact school, which included a central wood stove, the teacher's desk, a bookcase for reference books, a blackboard , roll-up maps and a wind-up pendulum clock with Roman numerals. Students occupied double desks.with round holes that held ink bottles for penmanship practice once a child reached third grade. "Our school day started with the singing of patriotic songs, to music from a pedal-pump "parlor organ" played by Mrs. Parker or one of the older girls. The tiny organ sat just inside the cloakroom, next to the stand that held the water crock." Recently a donation of a pump organ was made to the Entiat Museum, without a clear knowledge of its history, just that it was purchased at an estate sale years ago somewhere up the Entiat Valley. The organ makes a nice addition to the room nearby the bookshelves that hold the many EHS Yearbooks, which are a favorite of local visitors to the museum.
This summer an all alumni reunion is planned to for Saturday, July 29 at the Entiat School Campus. We are hoping that many of recent and graduates from many years ago will attend and share a wonderful time reminiscing and catching up. Reservations at the beautiful Entiat Park can be made in advance for those traveling from afar.
We cannot retrieve the pastoral, and seemingly peaceful but undeniably challenging experiences of the past, nor should we want to. We live in an era of convenience, and rapid attainment of information. The challenge teachers have today is so different from that of a hundred years ago,, but the need for our support of their role in our community is the same and cannot be overemphasized. I am so very thankful for the education my four children received in Entiat, and for the unique strengths each was able to develop because of the caring teachers, administrators and staff that helped them to grow. The skills our children need have evolved, but what is consistent is their need for a strong community that cares.