Being a short historical review of the growth of education in the boroughs and townships that now compromise the Upper Adams School District, Jointure, showing the need and subsequent vindication of the consolidation; a glimpse of the schools in operation today; and a prophetic preview of the future with it problems and its opportunities.
In Pennsylvania we often refer to the taxpayers who support a school as “patrons” of the school. To most of us patron is a word with two common and somewhat similar meanings. A store or other business firm uses it to indicate a customer. To a charitable undertaking, a patron is a voluntary supporter of the project under way.
Patrons of a school district aren’t in the same position as are customers of a store, or supporters of a Red Cross drive, however.Generally speaking, if we don’t like a store’s policies or its merchandise we can take our business elsewhere. If we don’t think a charity is worthy, we can refuse too support it. But our school business, which is the education of out children, we can’t take elsewhere; and whether we like the schools or not, or whether we ever make use of them at all, we can’t refuse to support them.
That sounds as if taxpayers have few rights at best, except to do as they are told, and pay the bill for the whole business. But that assumption is far from true. We have both rights and obligations that extend far beyond the requirements that any government would dare to delimit or attempt to enforce.
Our foremost right is to know and understand what is being done, first with our children, and then with our money. We have a right to know whether our education is being intelligently and economically handled. And whether, in return for the expense, we are planning and operating a program that will bring credit to the community through the caliber and training of the students that it sends forth into the world.
So that the five thousand patrons of the Upper Adams School District may know their schools, and in knowing them, feel encouraged to voice their own opinions, The Story of a School has been compiled. It is not in any sense a closing report of a finished project. It is at best only an interim view of the progress that has been made to date.
School progress cannot be measured in buildings and equipment alone, yet as the schools grow and expand with the community it is inevitable that the physical equipment keep pace. Ready for dedication this January 20, 1949, is the most modern building, for its purpose, in the whole school system,--the new Musselman Memorial Gymnasium.
The gymnasium is the last in a series of gifts whereby the late Christian H. Musselman demonstrated in an enduring form his deep interest in the welfare of the young people of his community. The modern shop building and its equipment, the building and lighting of the athletic field, and two classrooms added to the existing high school, all were earlier gifts of this public spirited citizen.
But in education there can be no standing still, and even now a new foundation and skeleton steel frame indicate further extensions being made to the Biglerville High School unit. Other plans, for further improvements and expansions throughout the system are in the making.
Historically, the Upper Adams School District is almost without any history. It shows immense promise of a great future; and its present is regarded as highly satisfactory by those who are most familiar with the details of its daily operation. But still in its on name it has no past, unless the nineteen months that have elapsed since it was formally organized in June 1947, can be called a past.
Even though the joint school district is lacking in a history of its own, it is still rich in tradition and background. The growth of education in the boroughs and townships that are not joined together in this new educational venture forms a story that is long, colorful and frequently controversial almost to the point of violence.
The earliest attempts at any sort of schooling, other than home instruction, in the community that is now Upper Adams county is largely lost among the unrecorded stories that before any records were kept and long before the progressive horse and buggy days were ever dreamed of, parents must have aspired to have their children get a little more learning than they themselves had had. Their ambitions must have taken the form of hiring someone just a little better equipped than they were to impart the desire of knowledge to the boys and girls of those rugged days.
We know that there was a school in what we now call Adam County over half a century before the county came into existence. It was the old Christ Church School in the present Union township, set up by a German Reformed minister in 1747. Since the school lasted for nearly one hundred years, it must have been flourishing well by January 22, 1800, when Adams County was established by separation from the western part of York county.
In Early Days
In our own Upper Adams community it appears that one of the earliest schools was an old log structure, built in Arendtsville about 1781. The Lutheran and Reformed churches undertook this joint venture, building a church on the venture, building a church on southeast corner of the square, where the National Bank of Arendtsville now stands, and erecting the school house across the road on the southwest corner; the present site of the Reformed church.
Of course, in 1781, there was no Arendtsville since town was not founded until 1808, and its incorporation as a borough did not occur until 1896.
Butler Township and Biglerville must share with Menallen Township the distinction of having another one of the very early schools of Upper Adams. It is recorded that a log school existed Middletown, as Biglerville was then known, prior to 1800, and probably built about 1797. Butler is a comparative newcomer among our present townships, not having been organized until 1849, out of parts of both Menallen and Franklin. Menallen and Tyrone Townships date back another hundred years to 1749.
Just when the earliest school in what is now Menallen Townships was constructed does not appear on record, but it stood between Bendersville and Biglerville, near the present Penn-Ceramics plant location and was probably the forerunner of the Old Fairmount School above Flora Dale. While the year in which the building was erected is not known, at least it was old enough to be down in 1836; and if it was as hardy ad its contemporaries it must have given all of a half-century’s service by that time.
No doubt other schools sprang up before 1800 and in the early years of the nineteenth century. Tyrone Township, for instance, while lacking authentic records of earliest building, had a school in Heidlersburg that was referred to as the “Old School” in 1840, when the United Brethren organized a society and began worship there. During this period, although at a date that cannot be exactly determined, a school was also opened in Wilsonville, which is now known as Bendersville, then part of Menallen Township.
Free For Paupers
Most, if not all, of the schools of the early nineteenth century were either church schools or subscription schools, supported by the contributions of private citizens. In 1809, the Pennsylvania General Assembly began to take some interest in the matter of educating its future citizens. That year a bill was passed directing each county to provide free education for pauper children between the ages of five and twelve, at county expense. It is noteworthy that the state made no provisions to pay any of the cost of this laudable project, however.
The first big statewide controversy over the schools occurred in 1834 when the free school act was passed. This law created a separate school district out of every city, borough, and township, and provided for the election of local schools boards to govern them. It established, for the first time, the right of local authorizes to levy taxes for school purposes, but provided no state aid to public schools. Under the law, the various districts in the state could vote to have schools, or not to have schools, a form of educational local option that remained in force until 1848.
The ides of free education for all was not accepted with any great enthusiasm in Adams County. At a joint convention of county commissioners and school directors hale in Gettysburg in 1834,only nine of the seventeen townships in the county voted to accept the free school system. Menallen was one of those voting favorably, but the plan met with vigorous opposition in Tyrone. An indignation meeting of citizens held in November 1834, passed resolutions denouncing the law as “aiming to rob he farmers” and demanding its repeal.
An attempt was made to abandon the law at the next session of the legislature, but this effort was defeated. After prolonged debate, the assembly voted to retain the legislation, which eventually became the basis on which our state educational philosophy of free education for all was developed.
There was no getting around free schooling, and the townships soon began to realize the fact. Some of them accepted the Law in 1835,others in 1836, the year in which Tyrone elected to fall into line, but it took ten years after passage of the first bill for every township in Adams County to accept its provisions. In 1836, the second convention of county commissioners voted for a two-mill school tax to be levied in each of the accepting districts.
As the public schools, supported by local taxes, increased, the other parochial and subscription schools rapidly passed out of existence. It was during this period that the Little Red School House era really began to flourish. Probably more school houses were erected between 1840, and the Civil War at any comparable period in the history of Pennsylvania.
The problem in education then wasn’t so much what would be taught in school. It was getting the children to school during the winter months so they could be taught anything at all. For six and seven year old youngsters, the buildings had to be within walking, or wading, distance of the farms or the children simply couldn’t and didn’t attend. Even though walking distance in those days meant anything up to four or five miles, it took a lot of school buildings to cover Upper Adams County.
The office of County Superintendent of Schools was created in 1854, another piece of state legislation that aroused bitter antagonism in the rural communities. Those who had not even become reconciled to the free school system in the first place regarding this as climaxing evidence that the state was going to supervise and eventually dictate all local policies on education. They weren’t far from right in their opinion.
Some State Support
With the establishing of the county office of education, some records began to be kept, and these enable us to gat a more comprehensive picture of the schools as they developed from that time on.
These records show that in 1865, there were twenty-five schools in the townships of Butler, Menallen and Tyrone, The boroughs of Arendtsville, Bendersville and Biglerville had not yet come into existence as separate school districts but there was a school within the boundaries of each of these towns.
Arendtsville students, after trudging for ten years to the old Paradise school southwest of town, in Franklin county, were now enjoying the convenience of a new building constructed in 1861, on Gettysburg street, the same structure that until 1948 housed an office of the Pennsylvania State College Research Laboratory.
Bendersville had a school located near the center of town. Biglerville students had grown too numerous, or perhaps too soft, for the old log and mud structure and were reveling in the luxury of a brick and frame schoolroom built in 1859 on the site where the present high school unit of the Upper Adams jointure now stands.
The number of separate schools continued to grow, even after 1865,although at nothing like the rapid pace of the preceding two decades.
The Pennsylvania State Constitution of 1873 recognized one and for all the principle that the state was responsible for education, and that a good school system would require state support in dollars as well as in advice and directions from the General Assembly. It provided that at least one million dollars each year should be appropriated for education and it forbade any of this money going to sectarian or denominational schools.
The state’s chief concern over education centered in the elementary schools up until the passage of a high school act, in 1887. This law permitted the establishment of high schools in cities and boroughs, which had been divided into wards, but made no mention of rural areas. The latter were recognized in 1895, however, when the law was expanded to permit the establishing of high schools in every district of the state. This year is also memorable as the first in which compulsory attendance was introduced.
Action In Arendtsville
On an old statement of “Condition and working of the common school system in Adams County,” for the year ending June 1, 1885, Arendtsville appears as the first of the Upper Adams boroughs to report as an independent school district. Behind this emergence of Arendtsville as a district lies another story of lusty and outspoken controversy that marked the development of our present school system.
The school built in 1861, on Gettysburg Street, had begun to be seriously overcrowded by 1881. The citizens of the town requested Franklin Township to provide more room, but the appeal was rejected by the township school board. Instead, the town was divided into two sections; parts of the students were ordered to report to the old Paradise school, and the balances were to continue attending on Gettysburg Street.
Proposals were circulated to petition the courts for the establishment of a separate school district, and their two extremes of public opinion met in violent conflict. The conflicting views soon boiled down to a simple question of whether to keep taxes low or provide better education, and the advocates of an independent district were victorious. Arendtsville then proceeded to build a two-story brick school of its own, commodious and modern for those days, and by the fall of 1884, it was ready for use. (This same building, sixty-five years later, is now sheltering two of the elementary grades of the Upper Adams School District’s Arendtsville unit.) In its first year of operation, Arendtsville employed two teachers to instruct its ninety-seven pupils. The boys and girls established an average of 91% attendance for the five school months and it cost the taxpayers seventy-two cents per pupil per month to operate.
Schools in the three townships of Butler, Menallen and Tyrone, plus the district of Arendtsville brought the total number in the combined Upper Adams community to thirty-one. Menallen was largest with fourteen, Butler and Tyrone had eight apiece.
Again The State
As the twentieth century rounded the corner, a movement was already on foot to facilitate the consolidation of rural schools into more economical and, it was hoped, better administered units. In 1901, an act was passed, providing for the consolidation of township high schools and the transportation of pupils to central schools at the expense of the districts.
As automobiles began to appear with increasing frequency on the roads, and the highways were rebuilt to make faster travel possible, distance within the townships seemed to shrink. Farms that once were several hours’ journey from the nearest town became, almost as if they had been transported, only a matter of minutes.
The whole economic pattern of the Upper end of the county was also yielding to the subtle but irresistible influence of change. Farms and hamlets that a generation before could have lain locked by the barriers of drifted snow or impassable mud roads for weeks without inconvenience began to lose their boasted self-sufficiency. The easier it became to get to town, the more often they thought they had to go.
Biglerville, which had enjoyed direct railroad connections with Harrisburg and Gettysburg sine April 1, 1884, was experiencing the rapid expansion that its role of shipping center brought about. Its youthful population had already outgrown the one-room school, and a two-room system had been in operation since 1895.
Two rooms were in operation in Bendersville, in the same two-story brick building that now accommodates grades one to six in the Bendersville Elementary unit of the Upper Adams jointure. This building is certainly the oldest one in the district that is still in use as a school but strangely enough, I have proven impossible to discover the exact date of its construction.
By 1903, all three of the present boroughs had two-room units in operation, but Arendtsville still led in total enrollment. The county records for the school year ending in June 1903, show Arendtsville with eighty-one pupils; Biglerville with seventy-eight and Bendersville fifty-four. In the townships, Menallen had twelve schools with 362 pupils enrolled; Butler had eight to accommodate its 260; an Tyrone also had eight, with an enrollment of 242.
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania again looked in our little community in 1905, this time with a new law requiring districts not maintaining a high school to pay tuition in other districts for any of their pupils who wished to continue beyond grammar school.
Education beyond grammar school was not uncommon even in the early 1900’s, although formal high schooling was not particularly popular in the rural communities. Boys and girls who saw possibilities of going to college were the most likely to go through high school. Those who were planning to teach school found a much simpler way. All they had to do, upon graduation from the eighth grade, was pass a county examination, which gave them certification to teach for one year. For those who wanted to enhance their chances of passing these county tests, private summer schools were set up, mostly by regular schoolteachers who rented a schoolroom, its books and equipment, and ran their classes on a tuition basis. Here again, Arendtsville appears to have been outstanding. From 1894 to 1911, such summer classes were held in the community almost every year, and the institution became so well known that it was sometimes referred to as the Arendtsville Normal School.
As the item of high school tuition expense grew in the budgets of local school districts, they began to investigate the possibilities of establishing high schools of their own. Civic pride was on the upswing, and in both Arendtsville and Biglerville there were public spirited and farsighted citizens who foresaw the advantage of providing high school education right at home. They, and all of the surroundings townships, were paying tuition in Gettysburg. There was no reason, they argued, why this money should not be used to improve education and enhance the prestige of the Upper Adams communities.
The first to make the plunge was Arendtsville, with a two-year high school course inaugurated in 1911. One teacher was employed and one pupil graduated in 1912. the first classes were held in a room on the second floor of the grade school building, but increased enrollment soon made larger quarters necessary. The high school moved to the second floor of the firehouse, and again there was talk of more building. The movement culminated in a decision by the school board to float a bond issue, build a high school building, and charge from a two-year to a three-year course.
The new building which today houses grades of the present Arendtsville Elementary School unit of the joint system was ready for the opening of the 1915-16 school year.
Biglerville was by no means willing to be outdone, however. Its boosters were just as certain as were those of neighboring Arendtsville that their own community was destined for a place in the sun. Census figures for 1910 disclosed that while Arendtsville had a population of only 383, Biglerville had climbed to 386!
The apple industry was rapidly expanding and here was the center of much of its activity. Biglerville-made barrels were being delivered by the thousands to the orchardists in the surrounding foothills, to be packed and hauled back to the railroad for the first leg of their long journey to the overseas markets.
Christian H. Musselman, who had bought out a small bankrupt cannery, began canning apples and apple products in 1907, thus providing a market for any surplus apples that could not be absorbed by the export trade.
Biglerville discovered that it needed a high school too, and in 1913 the school board rented quarters above Thomas Brothers store on the square and set up a two-year high school course. Its first graduates, the class of 1915, were only three in number. The new venture into secondary education flourished here, just as it had in Arendtsville and in 1917 a new two-story building was built to house both grade school and high school pupils.
This red brick structure is now part of the Biglerville High School unit of the Upper Adams jointure. While the new construction was still in progress, four-year programs were inaugurated in both academic and commercial subjects, and the first four-year class graduated in 1920. It was by virtue of these courses that Biglerville became in 1918 an approved first class high school.
Menallen and Tyrone townships sent their grammar school graduates in increasing numbers to Arendtsville and Biglerville High Schools; but because of its strategic location and its academic course, Biglerville began to draw ahead of Arendtsville in the number of tuition pupils enrolled from these two districts.
Butler Township, however, elected to cast in its lot with Arendtsville, entering into a vocational high school jointure that included Arendtsville borough, Butler and Franklin townships. The jointure agreement, dated March 12, 1917, was for a ten-year period. Its adoption enabled the three districts to participate in federal aid to vocational high schools, authorized by the Smith-Huges Act, in 1916.
This plan continued in satisfactory operation for the first ten-year period, and was twice renewed, once in 1927 and again in 1937. Under its operation, the Arendtsville Vocational High School reached the peak of its enrollment in 1938, with a total of 118 students. The withdrawal of Franklin Township on September 17, 1941, presaged the end of the jointure, although Butler Township and Arendtsville continue in joint operation of the vocational high school until the Upper Adams School District was formed in June 1947.
While the two boroughs were having their high school and jointure problems, the surrounding townships were moved to give increasing attention to their one-room schools. In 1915, an inducement law had been passed by the state granting an annual allowance of $200 for every one-teacher school closed after 1911. The pressure for consolidation was increased further in 1919 when new legislation went on the books requiring school boards to discontinue schools having an average attendance of ten or less, except under special permission.
Butler Township had already closed its Clear Springs School in 1918; Menallen closed the old Wenks and Pleasant Valley Schools in 1922, reassigning the pupils to a new two-room consolidation at Wenksville. This school and the one at Wenksville. This school and the one at Locust Grove are now the only two-room elementary units left in the jointure, with an enrollment for the current year of forty-one in the six grades taught at Wenksville and fifty-nine at Locust Grove.
A Succession of Laws
To understand the sequence of events that led to the consolidation of the township and borough schools into Upper Adams School District in 1947 it is necessary to study the role that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has played in local education since 1919. Prior to that time the state had confined most of its attention to telling the local districts what to do, but without supplying very much of the money to do it with.
The high school act of 1905, as we have already noted, required districts not maintaining high schools to pay tuition for their grammar school graduates in the high schools of other districts. The idea behind this law was probably to force the establishing of more high schools. But it could have another effect. Economy minded school boards, and patrons too, for that matter, might very well have discouraged high school attendance to save the tuition expense that the district had to bear alone.
This was partially remedied in 1925 when a new law obligated the to pay up to 75% of the cost of transporting ninth through twelfth grade pupils to other high schools, providing they passed the county entrance examinations. It still made no provisions for reimbursement to the districts for high school tuition paid.
It was not until 1941, that a system of state reimbursement on high school students was inaugurated. That act, incidentally carried other provisions that had an immediate effect on the affairs of both Arendtsville and Biglerville high schools. For it not only provided substantial state aid to students in the old four-year high schools. Its benefits were expanded to include junior high school transportation, and for the first time a sister, of reimbursement were set up on all high school tuition, junior and senior from the seventh through the twelfth grades.
Biglerville immediately inaugurated a junior high school, or “six-six” program, with six grades of elementary and six grades of high school. It was ready for operation by the fall of 1941, and Biglerville became the first district in Adams County to offer a junior high school program.
Fortunately for the school and because of what must have been considerable foresight on the part of the community the school plant had already been considerably expanded. A cinder block community hall, erected by a group of local business men in 1922 had been rented by the school district in 1923 and 1924. In 1925, the school bought the hall outright, and increased the number of classrooms to four, retaining the hall for auditorium and gymnasium use.
The high school building also had been expanded through the addiction of four oversized classrooms, ready for the fall of 1937 when vocational courses in homemaking and agriculture were instituted.
C. H. Musselman had just completed the first of a series of gifts to the school in the form of a substantial modern building with completely equipped woodworking and metal shops; and an industrial course was being added in 1941, the year the junior high school started.
Dollars and Sense
Here, then, was the position of the township school boards when Biglerville opened its junior high school; for every school that they closed they would receive an allowance of $200 a year from the state. They could send pupils into Biglerville from the seventh grade on through high school and be reimbursed about 75% for transportation and between 30% and 35% for tuition paid. It was as much a question of economics as it was of education, and the townships fell rapidly into line with “six-six” programs of their own. By eliminating their seventh and eighth grades they were able to regroup their elementary pupils and do away with some of their one-teacher schools.
Butler was the first township to send pupils in to Biglerville for junior high school instruction. As a result it was able to close one school in 1941 and another in 1945.
In 1942, Menallen and Tyrone both reduced their one-room units by going into six grade elementary school program. Menallen closed two schools in 1942; Tyrone closed one in 1944 and another in the year following.
By the time the present upper Adams jointure came up for discussion only eight out of the 1911 peak of thirty-two single-teacher schools remained to be disposed of in all three townships.
The final step in a long series of legislative enactments designed to eliminate township schools and enforce their consolidation into larger administrative units, came about when Act 403 was passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1945. The net effect of this law has been to make it practically impossible for any rural township to continue in independent operation.
Teachers’ salaries were raised, from the former minimum of $1,600, to $1,900 for beginners, with automatic salary increases of $150 per year for up to eight years of continuous service.
The method of computing state reimbursement was also changed. Under the law, as it read prior to 1945, districts were reimbursed on the basis of the number of teachers employed in relation to the assessed valuation of each employing district. The more teachers employed, the greater became the percent of their salaries paid by the state. The proportion of teachers to property values in all of our districts put them in about the same class as far as reimbursement was concerned. Seventy-five percent of mandated salaries paid to teachers was borne by the state.
Under the new law, however, not the number of teachers, but the number of “teaching units” in relation to the assessed valuation became the basis of reimbursement. Twenty-two high school students or thirty elementary pupils per teacher now constitute one teaching unit. If the number of pupils per teacher goes below these figures, the percent of state reimbursement declines. On the other hand, if the number of pupils per teacher goes above twenty-four for high school or thirty-three for elementary grades, the state’s share of the cost of institution still declines.
The advantage of conforming to the prescribed teacher-pupil ratio can best be indicated by referring to the actual reimbursement fractions now in effect for all of the various districts. Whereas seventy-five percent was the maximum that could be obtained under the old law the following percentages of teachers’ salaries are refunded by the state today:
There is only one way to get the maximum return from the state, and that is to keep the number of instructors equal exactly the number of teaching units that the enrollment calls for. In a large system, it is comparatively easy to keep close to that relationship, but for a small district it would be virtually impossible.
All of the school boards in the district were well aware of these facts, and they knew what would confront them with the opening of the school year 1947-48. In the late spring of 1947 they met in a series of joint conferences aimed at finding a solution. Many opinions were expressed and many viewpoints aired. But finally it became obvious to everyone present that some form of consolidation was the only practical answer.
Union or Jointure?
Under Pennsylvania law it is permissible for schools to merge in two ways: They can form a union or consolidated school district by placing the proposition on the ballot and winning the approval of the majority of the voters in each district; or the school boards can form a jointure by passing resolutions and drawing p a contract between the districts without placing the issue on the ballot.
Since the schools were scheduled to open in September, and no election was due until November, it was patently impossible to submit a union district proposal to the voters. Nevertheless, the directors were determined that the sentiment of the school patrons should be explored, and their decision in the matter adhered to.
Meetings were called all over the system, and everyone who had as idea, an opinion or a suggestion to offer, participated. Some of the sessions were stormy. Loyalty to the established community schools was the paramount sentiment that prevailed in many discussions. Resentment and mistrust of the state’s motives in bringing economic pressure to bear on the local school districts was voiced. A citizens’ committee undertook to explore possibilities other than of jointure through which they might comply with the state law and still retain a semblance of the status quo.
Every investigation, however, eventually came up with the same answer: A joint school system was the only feasible solution. Anything else was shown to be either prohibitive in cost or thoroughly inadequate from an educational standpoint. And finally, the citizens of every one of the six districts voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move.
The boards of Arendtsville, Bendersville and Biglerville boroughs, and of Butler, Menallen and Tyrone townships drew up separate jointure resolutions for their own minutes. They then met in combined session. Voted unanimously in favor of the jointure agreement with every member of every board present, and on, June 5, 1947, the Upper Adams School District, Jt. Became an officially established institution.
Proof of the Plan
There is no dying the fact that the organization of the joint school system was a move in which economic necessity played a strong part. It is well, then, to be realistic about its operation, and inquire whether it would provide a better education at less expense than under independent operation.
First we must remind ourselves that there was no possible way for the schools to operate under the state law and keep within the limits of their previous years’ budgets. The question was not whether school costs would rise, but rather how much they would rise.
The following table shows at a glance how much each school district saved in net operating cost to the district under jointure. The first column, “Costs under Joint Operation.” Represent in dollars what each district had to raise through local school taxes, after all state contributions for closed schools, transportation and teachers’ salary reimbursements had been deducted.
The column “Cost under Independent Operation” is what it would have cost each district for the year 1947-48 if no jointure has been formed. Here too, all state contributions have already been deducted.
Some districts save more than others. But it is note worthy that there was not a single township or borough among the whole six that did not effect some economy. For the district as a whole, the figures show that it would have cost 23.6% more in local taxes to operate the schools as independent units. The Little Red School House would be an expensive luxury today! The figures tell us why:
|Net Savings --------------------||---------------$13,784.43|
No school can be measured finally, or even primarily by the financial yardstick. If that were true then it would follow that the cheapest schools are the best schools, a doctrine to which even the most prudent would hesitate to confess.
The only question that remains to be answered respecting the jointure is whether or not it is producing the results that we have a right to expect for the money that we are spending.
It is no overstatements, nor is it an immodest one, for any patron of the upper Adams jointure to say that he is a part of one of the best small school districts in the state. He will not be wanting evidence to bear out his contention.
During the last year the operation of the jointure, and the means whereby it was organized. Have been studied by fifteen different school boards from various sections of Pennsylvania. Many of them have returned home to effect similar consolidations of their own schools.
The school guidance program is recognized by the Department of Education as one of the best in schools of our class throughout Pennsylvania.
The well balanced activities program of our high school has won is from time to time, state honors in sports, dramatics and music.
Our vocational program was made the subject of a special study by a Venezuelan educator in 1947, and its counterpart has since been set up in the city of Caracas.
Attesting to the value of our citizenship training is the fact that upper Adams county has the best juvenile record, as far as keeping out of court is concerned, of any area in the county.
The Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle Atlantic States has officially inspected our high school and given it a rating if “Superior” on its overall operation. This coveted honor is given only after a most complete investigation of a school, and is regarded by educators as high endorsement.
Recognition from afar is gratifying. But in our own school the program and policies are not the result of rules laid down, or procedures prescribed by outside authority. The schools have evolved and are evolving out of the best of local traditions and local culture.
Sound and Sensible
The subjects that are taught in the curriculum are designed for the kind of people and the kind of a community that the schools are built to serve. Faddish and fantastic theories of education that sometimes plague and perplex both parents and pupils are conspicuously absent from the jointure. Boys who aspire to be farmers can take sound and sensible courses in vocational agriculture when they enter high school; those with a bent for the mechanical have competent shop instruction, those using the most modern equipment. Domestic science an the serious art of homemaking are taught to the girls. Commercial courses fit their graduates for early introduction into the business world. And for those who are interested in general cultural subjects, often in preparation for college and university study, there are general and academic branches of study to be followed.
Over every subject and activity is the guiding principle that all schooling is fundamentally training for better citizenship. Under this philosophy, sports and drama and music have as definite a place in the educational scheme as do arithmetic, chemistry and Latin.
Guidance is stressed as a prime responsibility of the faculty. Through class instruction and personal counsel the most qualified teachers seek constantly to help every pupil find his own answers to any problem that confronts him.
As courses and activities have grown, building has been hard put to keep pace. The lack of an adequate elementary center north of Biglerville has made it necessary to keep two-room schools open Bendersville, Wenksville and at Locust Grove. Here three grades are taught t a room, a situation that is not in the best interests of the pupils, and which is now being studied with a view to correcting it. A strategically located six-room elementary unit in Bendersville has been suggested as one solution.
Grade school rooms in the Biglerville Elementary unit are already crowded beyond the limits in efficient operation, and temporary quarters are being rented in a local store building.
The worst situations are being taken care of first. For this reason a nine-room addition to the Biglerville High School unit is already under construction, and should be ready for use in the next school year. Overcrowding in both high school and junior high had here reached the place where it was worse than inefficient,--it threatened to be detrimental to the health and safety of the pupils.
The Musselman Memorial Gymnasium at Biglerville, which has just been completed, will be adequate for many years to come. Friends of the schools in upper Adams will long remember the debt that education in our community owes to the memory of Christian H. Musselman.
Other additions, other extensions, other plans, for improvement to the plant and the school system that it shelters are under constant study.
Today and Tomorrow
No one can predict with certainty just what the future of our schools will be, but there are clues in the present scene that indicate the trends, There is much evidence to indicate that our present buildings will be increasingly inadequate to accommodate the new enrollments which will take place during the next five-year period. It is estimated that there will be approximately five hundred pupils more in the schools of the Upper Adams School District by September 1954 than there are now, an increase of nearly fifty percent. This whole problem of additional buildings is being studied by the joint board, cooperating with a special committee of taxpayers invited to serve on a school planning commission.
With the continued support of the community we have every reason to hope that our school buildings and equipment will some day reach that same high standards that our courses and curriculum have already attained.
Another trend that may influence our school program in the not too distant future will be the demand from the public for the addition of a kindergarten. Thirteenth and fourteenth years of instruction may one day be added to the present high school program. Both programs are expanding rapidly throughout the nation as a whole.
An educational trend, being studied by the administrative head of our schools, is the necessity of adapting our curriculum to provide the development of social responsibility and cooperative skills on the part of our pupils. Both of these factors are essential to good citizenship education, necessary to the perpetuation of the democratic way of life.
Finally there must be a strengthening of a relationship between the school and the community. School services may become available during the entire year,--evenings as well as daytime. Such a plan provides an opportunity to give additional emphasis to the development of intercultural education and international understanding. Civilization must either change or die within our time. Nothing can live and remain static.
A community such as the upper Adams community is a living organism and, like all living organisms, it cannot remain static. It must either develop into something better or decline into the limbo of a forgotten civilization.