Thursday, March 30, 2017

First Schools In Mt. Pleasant ~ Research done by Mary Louise Madsen Seamons ~ pictures added by Kathy Hafen

Soon after the settlers of Mt. Pleasant had built homes and churches and their crops planted, the colonists made certain that  education was available for their children, as they believed that "the glory of God is Intelligence" and that "no man can be saved in ignorance."

On January 13, 1860 a single teacher opened the first school, sponsored by the LDS Church, in a rough log cabin inside the fort.  Children attended school when they were not needed at hone.  Soon other schools constructed of log and adobe were opened; one in each of the for wards of the town, and the number of teachers was increased.  Eventually a Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction was named.  He was assisted by a County Superintendent and; locally, by a Board of Trustees consisting of three elected men.  Few textbooks were available, so the children were taught from all types of printed matter including religious books and pamphlets, on blackboards and slates, and through such oral recitation as spelling bees.

In 1875 the ecclesiastical leaders in the East, fearing for the souls of the "misled" mormons, established   mission school in small Utah communities in an attempt to "save the children."  One of these, Wasatch Academy sponsored by the Presbyterian Church, survives in Mt. Pleasant.  For a short time there was also a school supported by the Methodist Church.

Other, more permanent structures, were soon built.  One of the first was a red brick building constructed on the corner of First West and First North, near one of the early schools had been.  This was later remodeled and used as the City Hall.  It now serves as a mortuary.

Hamilton Elementary  

Hamilton Elementary School was completed in 1896 at First East and Main.  The three-story, red brick building consisted of twelve classrooms; four on each floor, and the necessary offices for administrators.  Separate entries were maintained for boys; for girls, and for teachers and staff.  Indoor plumbing was added in the 1920's.

The building had a large brass gong which was usually rung by sixth graders who served as hall monitors.  These monitors watched the round faced clock on the wall above one of the rooms and rang the bell for changing classes or for other assignments during the day.  Students were eager to be monitors so they could spend the day reading and catching up on assignments or just enjoying a day of ease.  The school building was capped with a large school bell which was rung by pulling down vigorously on the attached rope.  If the monitor were strong enough; he or she was also allowed to ring this bell at the appropriate time in the morning.  The bell is now in front of the Mt. Pleasant Historical Society Museum on State Street about a block and a half south of Main Street.

A spiral fire escape was later installed on the outside of the building as a safety precaution.  Although students were forbidden to play on the fire escape, it helped provide them many hours of entertainment in the evenings, on weekends, and during the summer months as they played "Hide-and-Seek" or "Run, Sheep, Run" or used it as a slide.

Hamilton Elementary (Slide Fire Escape View)

Instruction was provided for students in grades one through six, sometimes with the addition of kindergarten, until the school was replaced in 1962.  It originally housed all classes through grade eight until the seventh and eighth grades were moved to the high school.

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