Photo of the Sedalia School. No date.
Douglas County History Research Center #687.15.
.....In 1865, the Sedalia School District (then called the "Pioneer District") became one of the first schools established in the county. It had a total of 20 pupils, quite a few considering that settlement of the area began only six years earlier, in 1859. In 1865, Douglas County's boundaries reached all the way to the Kansas border. When the county's boundaries were adjusted in 1874, Sedalia had 17 students in the school. Conditions at the school were typical of the time. The teacher and students had a bucket to hold water and one cup out of which they all drank. Heat was provided by a wood stove. The outhouse was behind the back of the building. In 1883, the teacher's salary was $45 per month, on par with the other schools in Douglas County.
Punishment or Cruelty?
.....A article from the Castle Rock Journal April 6th, 1887 shows that a Sedalia teacher may have taken his responsibilities to have timely students a little too seriously:
IN BEHALF OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
A Decision Rendered that Tardiness Does not Justify Suspension
William G. Smith, Superintendent of the Jefferson County schools, has issued a decision to the effect that it is illegal for teachers to punish children who are tardy at country schools in the winter time by compelling them to remain outdoors for a quarter of a school day, or some similar period of time… This matter was taken into court, the case being entitled R. S. Edwards vs. School Board and Teacher District No. 8, defendants. The Court said:
"The Directors have undoubtedly the power to make and cause to be enforced all reasonable rules and regulations for the government of schools in their respective districts… What are reasonable rules is a question of law, and we do not hesitate to declare that a rule which would bar the doors of the school house against little children who have come from such a great distance in the cold winter for no other reason than that they were a few minutes tardy is unreasonable and therefore unlawful…While, therefore, we believe the Board of Directors were actuated in adopting this rule by motives for the good of the school only, we think they have overstepped their powers delegated by law in their zeal to have a noble school….
"It is thought that the rule regarding tardiness was productive of cruelty to little children in cold weather, It seems, moreover, that the rule was never properly adopted by the Board of Directors, the teacher had obtained their verbal consent to such a rule, but the Board had not adopted it at any of their meetings…The Superintendent of Jefferson county has decided the tardiness is not sufficient cause for suspension of a pupil. Other methods, it is thought, will more effectively meet and conquer this evil. The decision rendered such treatment of school children illegal."
T.E. McCarthy, who taught at Sedalia last year was the teacher mentioned in the above named case…
Schools in Sedalia show progress of the community.
.....The first wooden frame school in Sedalia may have been located near the current Post Office on the corner of Plum Avenue and Victor Street. Little else is known about this building, it was replaced by another wooden building, this time at or near the corner of Manhart and Plum Streets. The new wooden school had drop siding, which was described in Douglas County: A Historical Journey by Josephine Marr as "quite fancy for that time." When students outgrew it, the wooden building was eventually moved to a ranch, where it was irreparably damaged in 1965 by a devastating flood.
.....On July 1, 1891, the following announcement appeared in the Castle Rock Journal…
.....The stone building was one of the most advanced in the county. It contained a stoker furnace, gaslights, and running water. An addition was put on to the east in 1912, and the school could accommodate two teachers.
A Sedalia Teacher Recalls Her Memories
.....Sarah A. Gleason was fortunate enough not only to attend the Sedalia school, but also to come back and teach at it in the late 1920's and early 1930's. She and her students had picnics, went for hikes on West Plum Creek, and held Christmas plays. Miss Gleason was also partially responsible for the cleaning duties of the school, a role she did not treasure:
....."Many years later, I was teaching in a modern building that required no janitorial services on my part. I was complaining to a friend that I was tired of attending teachers' meetings… My friend, who had known me during the days of my janitorial period, remarked that I should find it much easier to attend teachers' meetings than to scrub outdoor toilets. I thought about that and counted my blessings."
.....During the cold winters, she sometimes had to carry the first graders to the outhouses so they didn't get lost in the snowdrifts. The outhouses were also a source of concern when what may have been a rabid dog wandered into the schoolyard. The teachers tried to keep the children inside the school, but when they could stand it no longer, they were sent out one by one when the dog left the area. On one of these trips, the dog returned and followed one of the boys back into the classroom. Sarah stood between the students and the dog while the children went into another room. She followed them out and they blocked the door. Eventually the dog left, and school could resume......When the school district outgrew the stone building, a new school was constructed in 1951. It contained six classrooms, a music room, an "all purpose room," and a kitchen, where hot lunch was served. It had seven teachers, a custodian, two cooks, and 175 students. The school is now Sedalia Elementary School, and is part of the Douglas County RE-1 District.
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