Writing history requires research, but even then, the research needs to be researched as well, to verify the various sources which may or may not be authenticated. Although the internet is a treasure trove of information, Shakespeare wrote “all that glistens is not gold” and that is why research can be both intriguing and frustrating at the same time.
What is to follow is a beautifully written history from Inez Russell Hall during her days at the Academy on the Green when the high school was held there. I will tell you that one or two sentences in this diary opened up information we did not have before. The Academy was built in 1878 and the upper grades classes were held there. Some students stayed for the entire time while others went to other schools.
Read on to learn about the life of one young lady at the Academy on the Green. I have left the spelling and punctuation just as she wrote it.
“Class History – When we first entered the Orange High School in the fall of 1898, although there were the unlucky number thirteen in our class, the girls, three boys, we were in hopes all would remain in our class the five years required for graduation. But after school had been in session a short time one of our classmates was promoted being in advance of the rest of the class. We were very sorry to have her leave us, but we knew it would be better for her as she was expecting to attend the State Normal School to complete her education.
“During the winter, to our great sorrow, two more of our classmates left us, one moving out of town, and the other finding it her duty to go to work. The first year we were very fortunate in having a very conscientious pain taking teacher. We all felt Miss Morrill was deeply interested in our welfare.
“During our first few days, we were not much afraid of our teacher but we all soon found out that it was best for us to take her advice as she was very strict in her school government. She tried to make the schoolroom attractive by having flowers and pictures about.
“Every morning she gave us lessons in Physical Culture to which we were obliged to pay strict attention. In the summer her health failed and if it had not been for the assistance of Mr. & Mrs. Wright she would have been unable to complete the year.
“When we returned to school in September we were all very sorry not to see her familiar face. In her place was a lady from Maine who was a stranger to us all.
“At the beginning of our second year there were only ten left in our class and two of these failing to pass the required examinations at the end of the year were put back in the lower class leaving only eight. After remaining with us until December our teacher resigned so we would have been without an instructor but again our pastor Mr. Wright came to our rescue taking charge of the school for about two weeks until someone else could be found. Mr. Wright’s experience in teaching four grades having only fifteen minutes for a class led him to think there was need of a second teacher but only one was secured for the remainder of the year, Mr. Sprinkle from Pennsylvania.
“At the close of the second year another diligent member left our class going to the Boardman Manuel Training School. The third year a great change took place in our school management, our former teacher Mr. Sprinkle brought back from Pennsylvania a young lady assistant.
“There was now need of a recitation room, so the girls cloakroom was fitted up and there were heard a great many of our lessons. The room was warmed by an oil heater which made it very uncomfortable at times. Through the efforts of these teachers a school library was obtained. The school gave a play to raise money for it. The number of books has increased from year to year and at present there are about one hundred and fifty volumes.
“Through Mr. Wright’s generosity a laboratory was fitted up in his study where simple experiments in chemistry were made. During this year Mr. Sprinkle formed a Literacy Society in which each member took some part several times during the year, either writing an essay, having a recitation or speaking in a debate.
“In the spring another of the boys in our class left us to assist his father with the farm work. At the close of the third year the principal of our school told us he did not expect to return in the fall but thought Miss Frey would return in September to carry on the school work. When we returned in the fall of 1901 we all welcomed as our principal, Miss Frey who had been with us the year before and associated with her was Mr. Lantz, also from Pennsylvania who was chosen as the assistant.
“The fourth year the last boy of our class left us and in the fall entered the Child’s Business College in New Haven. This year a few improvements were made in the school room, a new blackboard was put in back of the teachers desk and a closet for some of our text books was made in the rear of the room.
“After giving an entertainment at Thanksgiving time we were able to buy new recitation chairs for the back part of our school room but we could not have them until after our Christmas vacation. We also had a new wash basin and water pail the basin had disappeared as have a great many other things nobody knowing where.
“As winter approached we looked forward to our annual sleighride and at times feared that we were to look in vain but upon awakening one crisp winters morning we saw to our great delight that a soft mantel of snow had covered the earth and the time had at last come for our ride. On the day following, a very merry party of us went on sleigh ride to New Haven and spent a short time in the Peabody Museum. Upon return ride, we lost two of our companions but after some excitement saw their dark forms at the base of the hill some distance behind us and soon they plodded up to the sleigh.
“Upon arriving once more in Orange we drove to the home of a schoolmate and found a very tempting repast awaiting us to which each and all did ample justice. The evening was spent every pleasantly and at a somewhat late hour we returned in a merry mood to our home.”
I can continue with the lovely report but alas, I have met my word quota for this issue. There is plenty more to read so keep an eye on the next issue and we will share the piece of her story that gives us a detail of the schoolroom we did not know. Stay tuned.
Note: The history written by Inez was donated to the Orange Historical Society by her granddaughter, Marjorie Schenk.