Rocky Fork Enterprise

Senior citizens reminisce about days in one-room schoolhouse

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The old school bell tolled March 5, when Gahanna Senior Center members visited Lincoln Elementary School and the recently relocated and restored one-room Jefferson Township School No. 2.

The occasion was part of an intergenerational partnership program the schools and Gahanna seniors forged 20 years ago, said Dale Foor, coordinator of community services. Every first Wednesday of the month, students visit the senior citizens; once a year, the senior citizens travel to one of the schools.

Senior center director Danise Hall said the monthly program begins in October and ends in May.

"Only once a year do we come to a school," she said. "The rest of the time it's at the senior center. I love to find out the likes of the foreign-exchange students when they visit."

The senior citizens were paired with Lincoln fourth-grade ambassadors, who guided them through the cafeteria to experience modern-day school life.

They enjoyed lunch together in the library instead of the cafeteria, though.

In addition to enjoying a menu of cheese bread, hummus, tomato soup, strawberries and milk, the students and seniors chatted about everyday life.

Fourth-grader Luciano Frissora, 9, visited with Jean Langkamp.

"I learned about lots of things," Luciano said. "Senior citizens are full of wisdom. They're nice and have fun."

Jasmine Womack, 10, told companions Margaret Woolum and Ivadene O'Neill she's been working on decimals and place values in math class.

"I like math, but it isn't my favorite," she said.

Woolum said she collects notes and pictures given to her by students.

"They want to thank us and write a note or draw pictures," she said. "Sometimes they call me grandma."

During past gatherings, Langkamp said, she most enjoyed senior students sharing portfolios.

"They included all different kinds of art," she said. "It was beautiful to see all they did."

Foor said the program was started after he attended a workshop touting the benefits of intergenerational partnerships at Ohio University.

"We received $500 from the Ohio Commission on Aging, and we thought we were rich," he said.

Foor's daughter, Lincoln kindergarten teacher Lettie Huyghe, entertained the guests with a song before they left.

Principal Jim Micciulla also thanked them for the time they spent with students.

"They benefit from the experiences you've had in the community," he said. "What you get to see at the one-room school is a real gem."

Dan Schroen Sr. and retired Gahanna teacher Judy Carter greeted the seniors at the old schoolhouse, which sits beside Lincoln Elementary School on Havens Corners Road.

Schroen is the father-in-law of Tom Gregory, a high school teacher who led the fundraising effort for the schoolhouse.

"There are a lot of heroes in this schoolhouse," he said. "People just got on board when they heard about it. It's amazing. Desks came out of nowhere."

Schroen provided an overview of society during the time the schoolhouse was in operation from 1869-1925.

"Think about the eras involved in U.S. and world history," he said. "Think of the impact on Ohio in the Civil War. The impact was immense.

"Think about what it was like for the 19th century. Transportation was by horse or ox-drawn. The changes are mind-boggling. Think about uniting the country by rail, the telegraph, the telephone and the beginning of radio. All that happened in the 19th century. The schoolhouse was operating when all this developed. By the time this closed, cars were a common conveyance."

Schroen said 11 states came into the union while the school was open.

"This is amazing history we're sitting in now," he said. "It's like a living museum."

Carter, dressed as a schoolmarm, pointed out some of the treasures donated to the schoolhouse, including a pump organ, antique toys, a collection of McGuffey readers, an old map, bells, slate chalkboards and even a dunce hat.

O'Neill, 94, said she was one of the older students when she attended a one-room school so the teacher would let her instruct the younger students if she wasn't feeling well.

She said the schoolhouse she attended had double seats and a pot-belly stove.

Gahanna's one-room schoolhouse was dedicated Oct. 23, 2013. It was in front of the YMCA on U.S. Route 62 and had been converted into a garage.

It will be used to teach elementary school students what it was like to go to school in the 1800s.

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