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A Day in the Life: Circa 1880

Natlie & Mrs. Houtz

LoCo is filled with history and each year 4th graders get an opportunity to live a little of it. This past Monday I had the chance to chaperon Mrs. Houtz’s class on their annual field trip to the Second Street School in Waterford. Here’s a glimpse of what we learned…

The Second Street School was founded by Waterford’s Quaker meeting group in 1867 to provide an education for its’ African American community. A few years later it became part of LoCo’s public school system and remained open until 1957, one year after segregated schools became unconstitutional. In 1977 the Waterford Foundation¬†acquired the building and since 1984 fourth grade students have been recreating a typical 1880 school day.

Weeks before the trip students are given an identity from a student who was in the school in 1880. They have to learn about the child’s family and for the second time one of our daughters had Caroline Minor. She was a first grader and one of three in her family who attended the school. She was very proud of the fact that her father helped build the school. The students go through a typical 2 hour day of instruction on moral lessons, arithmetic, writing, geography, reading and spelling, and grammar and composition. One student is chosen to act up so he can be put in the dunce chair, and were even taught about a ferule (that’s the stick the teacher would crack their hands with when necessary). Once the work is completed they are allowed a short recess, then lunch with period specific food they have brought with them (corn bread, apples, hard boiled eggs, bacon, sugar cookies).

Overall I think it helps our children appreciate what life used to be like. It’s easy to take for granted the way things are now and trips like this teach them a little perspective. We had a blast and if you get the chance to volunteer for this one I highly suggest you take advantage.


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Michael and Heather Elias are full time real estate professionals and licensed REALTORS at Century 21 Redwood Realty. They sincerely hope you enjoy reading this blog, and would love the opportunity to work with you.

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