Green Prairie School No. 3577

Green Prairie School

Green Prairie School was built by Jens Sokvitne. It was established on December 10, 1917.  It was located on the SE quarter of 27-17-19-W4. Directions from Lomond – North 5 miles on Highway 845, turn east on Highway 539 for 5 miles, turn North onto Range Rd 192 for 2 miles (no road sign because it is a prairie trail,  use the landmark = Bancroft School Sign), turn west onto Township Road 174 for 1/4 mile (Note: once off highway, these are prairie trails – unbuilt roads, travel at own risk). Latitude 50.45581, Longitude -112.53072

The first teacher was Miss Frances Foster. O. T. Sande and his wife, Lulu, were both very active on the board for Green Prairie. They had five children. O. T. played violin and his friend, Charley Geyer, played guitar for dances in the community.

Excerpts from Memories of School Days at Lomond and Area (compiled from “As Grandma Said” by Mildred Honnes)

“This important building would not only be used for learning but for entertainment and for church services.

There were teachers who were homesteaders and pioneers, and others so very young, just from teacher’s training. In 1920, the wages for teachers were $85.00 per month. I started school in 1929 and the teacher was hired for $1,000 for a ten month term.

The first school that I attended had the poetic name of Green Prairie. This school was built in 1919. From records kept, it seems that it cost $3,475 to build and $150 for a heating system- a big coal and wood heater with a tin around the outside to deflect the heat out and up. The main windows were on the east side of the school. The desks sat from north to south, with the teacher’s desk facing the class. Our school had only a hand bell to call us to class when recess was over. In the teacher’s desk drawer was the strap. The teacher had the right, and used this right, to strap a student as the need arose. Some little lady could have had qualms about strapping a fellow much larger than her, but I never heard of a teacher backing down when the end justified the means.

There were very small entrances at the northeast and northwest comers of the school, where the pupils entered, the “boy’s cloak room” and “the girl’s cloak room”-“a room where coats, hats, etc. can be left for a time.” Also in these little rooms was a pail of water, a wash basin, and another bucket in which to put the used water. The floors were wooden and uncovered as to tiles and linoleum. At set intervals, the floors were scrubbed and oiled.

A barn for the kids’ horses, a toilet for each gender, a coal bin attached to the school, a cistern for the drinking water, and a flag pole made up our school grounds. There were no trees or flowers. There was a fire guard that was kept free of weeds by the trustees and other parents.

During the summer holidays, the school trustees were to clean the school. This also included applying the new coat of oil that all the schools were to have on their floors. Trustees or parents were expected to haul the water and fill the cistern; haul the coal and fill the coal shed. Pay for hauling coal-probably $5.00 a loaded wagon-was applied to that person’s taxes.

Many students were able only to attend school part of the term because of the weather or to help make the living. Sometimes one of the students was hired to do the janitor work for $5.00 per month or a little more.

Teacher’s wages were often not fully paid at one time, because not enough tax money had been collected. I have records of taxes being 12¢ an acre, but in 1922, the rate was raised to 22¢ per acre. In February 1923, a verbal agreement was made between the school board and the teacher that she would continue teaching at $900.00 per term until the money they had was exhausted. In 1932-33 the teacher’s salary was $750 and $500 respectively.The school remained open until 1936. It was closed then, because of shortage of pupils (only three were attending). The school house was taken over by the Taber School Division and moved to Vauxhall to be used for school purposes. At this time fees of $1.00 per day per student were set for maintenance or conveyance for pupils attending other schools. There were 14 teachers during the life of the Green Prairie School District #3577.

Teachers often had to board in one or more homes during the school term. I think this was called “keeping the teacher”. The school board kept this money out of the teacher’s salary and applied it toward the taxes that the farmer found hard to pay. Money was a scarce item. Many of the teachers were young ladies just out of Normal School, as teachers’ training was then called. This one room country school and boarding with whoever’s turn it was to “keep the teacher” must have indeed been a rude awakening. Most of them were dedicated teachers. They taught not only the 3 R’s, but instilled into their pupils the faith and trust of becoming good citizens. They became a part of the rural districts and the impact of these good rural teachers is too great and too deep to measure.

The teachers often taught up to grade eleven. Maybe there would only be two kids in a grade but the teacher gave them instruction in every subject. An important ritual each morning, in the lower grades, was the checking to see if we were in line for a star for health. To earn this we had to have washed well, brushed our teeth, have a clean hanky and been in bed the evening before by 8:30.

Our recreation at recesses and noon were simple games. Nothing costing anything more than perhaps a softball and bat.”

More information about Green Prairie School may be found in “Remember When by the Lomond Community Library Board,” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Lomond Village Office, Lomond Grainland Hardware and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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