Memories of a One Room School
Long ago in 1906, Hopewell School was built in Indian Camp, Ohio. Education there continued for nearly fifty years with the last class graduating eighth grade in 1955. One teacher taught eight grades for most of those years and needed lots of patience and planning, as they had to make do with whatever was available.
Most of the one room schools of that time were set on large, hand-hewn, rectangular sandstone blocks with the building being constructed of weather boarding painted white. There were windows on each side, but none in the front or back, and one door in the front. Behind the school there was a coal house, which kept the supply of coal needed to heat the pot-bellied stove. Of course, there were never any modern conveniences at Hopewell School. Out back of the school were two outdoor privies, and both two holers. Could be a very cold trip and seat in the middle of winter.
If they lived within a mile of the school, students walked with their lunch boxes tightly gripped, and that was part of the fun. Older students usually watched out for the safety of the younger ones, and often even helped scare a barking dog away. If the teacher lived in the area, they might pick up a few students on a rainy day.
Every day of school opened with the pledge to the flag and a morning devotion. All subjects were taught to all grades by one teacher. How busy they must have been! The teacher was very excited when she obtained this special copy machine, a hectograph. After placing the master copy in a pan of gelatin-like substance, several copies could be made quite easily by picking up the ink the master copy left behind. Now she could make twenty copies of something in five minutes from one original writing. They would be so amazed at the technology available today! This was a time of learning to help your fellow students also, as students helping students was a big part of the day. Double desks made it easy for one student to sit with another, who might need a little help. With all eight grades in one room, it was also a great opportunity to learn from older students while listening to them recite their schoolwork.
Getting water was a great excuse to get to leave the school ground, and students were seldom in a hurry as they enjoyed talking to neighbors along the way. There was always someone who was kind enough to let children get water from their wells and carry a bucket of it to school. There it would be placed in a large container at the back of the room that had a spout at the bottom. Everyone drank from the same dipper, unless they were lucky enough to have their own folding metal cup.
Keeping warm was sometimes a problem as the pot bellied stove seemed to be extra warm on one side and rather cool on the other. One of the students would go back to the coal house and fill up the bucket to set beside the stove. The boys usually did this and didn’t really mind, as sometimes they would sneak a smoke while they were back there.
Recess was spent playing baseball, hopscotch, Annie Annie Over, Red Rover, and climbing the trees to sit and talk with a friend or watch the games being played. Teachers were usually outside keeping an eye on everyone. The only time recess was inside was during a heavy rain. In the winter sledding was a popular recess activity on the nearby hills. Once in a while, the teacher would permit some students to go to the General Store in Indian Camp for a little candy or soda treat.
Special programs were a big part of the school and community life. The Farmers Institute was one special time when students sang and performed skits for the entire community. Every holiday was an occasion for a school activity. Halloween might involve a costume contest, and Christmas guaranteed a packed house for the program.
After spending eight years at the one room school, the transition to high school was often difficult. The ride on a school bus to Cambridge High School was an adventure in itself. The early bus was a small one compared to today’s standards, and only held a dozen students. Days were long for many, who would get on the bus at 7:00 after chores were finished, and get home at 5:00 in the evening, just in time to help with evening farm chores.
Memories of the Hopewell One Room School are still fresh in the minds of the students who attended there over the years. The school still stands today and is now used for Grange, 4-H, homemakers, and church services. Students still meet once a year to relive old memories and get reacquainted with each other. Ties to classmates remain strong over the years as experiences there helped shape their lives. When the day is over, former students depart with the thought: “God be with you till we meet again.”
The old Hopewell School is located in Guernsey County near Cambridge, Ohio right near the outskirts of Indian Camp. Take Route 209 West out of Cambridge, then turn right on 658 North. After about five miles, you should come to the town of Indian Camp. At the far side of the town, you will find a church and the old one-room school.