Most readers may only have the experience of a country school from television shows like "Little House on the Prairie," but for many country residents attending these schools was a fact of life, be it as a student who attended these schools or as a teacher who taught at one.
The last of the country schools in Iowa closed in the 1950's, but as a way of keeping the rich educational heritage of Iowa alive for today's students and adults, a country schoolhouse was brought to Cherokee a few years ago. It serves as a museum and also a repository for articles that pertain to Iowa's educational past.
The schoolhouse was originally located in Woodbury County, and it was brought to Cherokee by way of Correctionville, whose Copeland Park was threatened by floods. Though the schoohouse is from Woodbury County, the bell in the bell tower is from a Cherokee county school.
The building, which is estimated to have been built between 1890 and 1902, is now located on the campus of Northwest AEA, on the Iowa Hwy. 3 bypass, on the Northeast side of Cherokee. It was brought here through the efforts of Bruce Hopkins of the AEA, and many members of the community took part in the school restoration.
The school has not been utilized to the best degree in the past few years, and the CCRSP has plans to change that situation. They will be holding classes for the Cherokee County's 3rd and 4th graders on May 13 through May 16. Programs for all ages, tours and special events are planned for the future.
The CCRSP goal is to preserve the building for future generations. The CCRSP recently received a grant for paint from the Keep Iowa Beautiful Foundation. but the grant does not cover the cost of actually painting.
Some of the needs of the CCRSP include:
* Money to purchase supplies, for painters to paint the building, and for ongoing expenses. You can send monetary donations to: Imogene Galvin, Cherokee County Retired School Personnel, 405 W. 4th St. Box 301, Aurelia, IA 51005-0301
* a Port-a-Pot for the times the school is used. This spring it will be used for five days, May 12 -- May 16, and plans are for it to be used again in the fall.
* An old "school regulator" clock.
* A recitation bench ( a four or five foot bench on which the seat folds similarly to the desk seats)
* Old elementary school books or workbooks (multiple copies if possible)
* Ink blotters
* Ink wells
* Slate pencils
* Any other school memorabilia that relates to country schools or education.
There will be a work crew that will be cleaning the building all this week, and volunteers are needed. There are both small jobs and large jobs to be done in order to get the building ready for school. There will be someone at the building from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day, so come and join the CCRSP and help them make this a great learning experience for the children.