| Mar. 29, 1928
McDonald PA Outlook
Fifty Years of McDonald Schools
While thinking of the present conditions of our public schools, the writer's mind drifted back to the fall of 1878, at which time our town had but a small frame building consisting of but one room, and which was located on the corner lot where now stand the residences of Samuel SHANE and Dr. L. M. BOWSER.
Over the roof of this building was played, with a soft ball, many a game of Anthony-over, resulting at times with some lively scuffling among the boys and girls, often settled only by the interference of the teacher, who at that time was Miss Jennie ROBB.
At this time, our town also had a thriving academy under Prof. HAWES. The academy held its sessions in the basement of the United Presbyterian church-the only church in the community. This church was located on the lot on which the First Baptist church now stands.
In 1879, the writer left the public school to attend the academy, which was then under the control of Prof. G. R. ANDERSON and Prof. George SLATER, both now dead.
In the fall of 1880, the late Dr. W. D. IRONS, who had but recently come to take the pastorate of the United Presbyterian church, was asked to assist in teaching the languages Latin and Greek. After a time, Dr. IRONS took full charge of the work, being ably assisted by Prof. J. M. SHAFFER.
To this academy came boys and girls from Burgettstown, Hickory, Venice, Bulger, and surrounding townships, and for a number of years at the close of the summer term, a musical convention, conducted by Prof. J. S. BROWN, also now dead, was the happy climax to each successful term. This event was looked forward to with as much interest as the commencement exercises of our present day colleges.
From this academy went out missionaries to India, China, and Egypt, besides doctors, lawyers, and teachers, many of whom are at the present time filling places of honor and leadership. Of such an institution as Ingleside Academy, the town of McDonald was justified in being abundantly proud.
In the meantime, it became necessary to enlarge the public school and a building of two rooms was constructed on the hillside just above William D. HALL's present residence. During the erection of this building, in the fall of 1882, there was a short period from the middle of October till the following January during which time there was no school, it being thought necessary to close it on account of the illness of the teacher, Miss Minnie MILLER, now the wife of Rev. Thomas GRAY.
In this building, the writer began her career as a teacher, having charge of the lower room, which, in a short period of time, was crowded to its utmost capacity, with one hundred and twenty-six children. This overcrowding made it again necessary to enlarge this building, and four new rooms were added. Over this building of six rooms, one of our present townsmen, John P. SHANE, had charge as supervising principal.
This building answered its purpose for a number of years, but during one of the greatest oil booms in the country, it was remodeled into what was known as the Elaine hotel, and one night during the boom was destroyed by fire.
In the meantime, our present grade building was in the course of construction, and was made ready for occupancy to be dedicated in 1895, on which occasion were present some notable school men, State Superintendent Henry HOUCK being one of them.
As time passed and people came and went, this building was found to be insufficient to accommodate the children of our community, and a frame annex of two rooms was placed on the northeast side of the building, which was subsequently sold at auction, removed by the purchaser, A. B. COCHRAN, and made into a dwelling. It stands on the corner of Fanny and Coal streets, and is occupied by Mr. COCHRAN and family.
The present high school building is the successor of the frame annex. This building was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1914, and then, in great glee, the boys and girls of the high school bade farewell to the old grade building and entered the new.
As we take a backward look and compare our little one-room building with its six months term, its slates and pencils (one was very fortunate, indeed, if he possessed a tablet), to our present substantial buildings with their modern equipment, free text books, athletics, commercial department, nurses' aid, etc, we realize how much we have for which to be thankful. Much of the progress has been made possible under the energetic leadership of our present supervising principal, Prof. W. L. MOORE.
While we feel there has been considerable progress in our educational system, we are now looking forward to the time in the near future, when we shall develop even greater opportunities for our young people to fit themselves for life's work.
- written by Mrs. Alice May for The McDonald Outlook