Today, we bring you one of Sylvia Henricks’ “Remembrances.” You can read more of Sylvia’s columns weekly in The Franklin Township Informer, or in her book From The Ash Grove.
In a recent email to the Informer township resident Woody Wooden reminisced about Bunker Hill School as he remembered it. He attended in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Bunker Hill School was built in 1917, on the site of the current school, but closer to Shelbyville Road. It included eight grades and one year of high School.
Two other township schools preceded it, the “Franklin Township School,” better known as New Bethel School in 1910, which included eight grades and high school, built at 4100 S. Post Road, and Acton Grade and High School in 1912, on the site of a former Acton School, 8010 Acton Road. These three schools were “modern in every respect,” and the New Bethel School even had a “movie machine.” These three schools replaced the 11 one-room schools located throughout the township so no student had to walk more than a mile to school.
Woody describes Bunker Hill School as he knew it. “The old school was three levels, the lowest level half below ground. This school was not a handicap accessible facility, as the current school is. The other big difference was the size of the enrollment. In the 1940s each of the eight grades averaged only 12 to 15 students. The first and second grades and the seventh and eighth grades, and offices and storage were on the second level. The third level was for third and fourth and fifth and sixth grades, as well as a gym and stage for plays and PTA meetings. The lowest level was a boiler room, rest rooms and the cafeteria.
The eighth grade students could volunteer for assignments at the school. For example, you could bring in bread from the big box outside the boiler room, take it in through the boiler room, say “Hi” to Mr. Settles, and place it in the cafeteria. You could also be part of a two-student team to put up and take down the American flag. This had special meaning due to World War II not being that long ago.
The other volunteer assignment was safety patrol. That entailed watching first and second grade students board their buses, and riding your assigned bus, making sure no student got up while the bus was moving. The big deal with this assignment was you got to wear a white belt with shoulder straps with a ‘badge.’
The size and location of the school made it possible to make good friends. The students you started school with in the first grade, you graduated with twelve years later. Many of the students were from arm families and the other families were happy in their homes, jobs, and community. The friendships established in grade school are still active 70 years later.” (to be concluded next week.)