One Room Schools

 One room school houses were the backbone of education in Bland County. The schools gave the area children a first through seventh grade education. They were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic first and then science, geography, and literature in the upper grades.

The schools were all within walking distance of the students who attended them. There was no public transportation. They either had to walk or ride a horse to school.

Liberty, a school located mid-way between the Bland Courthouse and Ceres Virginia on Route 42, is just one example. The building was one room with weather boarded walls. The blackboards were real slate or some remains of the old boards painted on the walls. Located in the center of the room was a "pot-belly stove." Other schools such as Silver Creek, Laurel Creek, and Dry Fork had weather boarded walls and were also heated by a "pot-belly stove." This provided heat during the winter months. Parents always furnished the wood and the older boys were let out of class to split it for the next day. In the corner of the school was a table with water and a dipper, which provided water for the students throughout the day and at lunch .

There was no cafeteria. They brought their lunch from home. Many of the lunches were biscuits with beef or homemade jelly on them, fruit, and a piece of cake or pie was very common. During lunch they had time to play games such as Annie over, baseball, and many others. They also had time to visit the out house. The schools at this time had no indoor plumbing so they had little shacks built beside the school for the bathroom facilities.

Holidays were always celebrated in these small schools. Christmas was the most remembered. The room was decorated with popcorn wreaths and paper cutouts made by the children. The children always had a Christmas program for their parents. There was never a fee and all the parents came.

These schools were run by one person, the teacher. Ora Gray Stowers, a former teacher at the Liberty school, said there was "never any rudeness or discourtesy to small children in school." She did say that she did have to use a little switch or paddle when a ruckus started, but according to her it wasn't very often. The worst punishment she said was standing in the corner in front of everyone because she thought this embarrassed them.

Jessie Hart Finley who was a student at Silver Creek said that she could recall many of the boys were fifteen, sixteen,seventeen, and even eighteen years old and still in the seventh grade. The reason for this was because they couldn't go anywhere else to get an education. The closest school that offered any higher classes was five miles away. This was Hollybrook. Hollybrook taught up to the tenth grade. But since there was no transportation offered to the boys they had no way of getting there unless they walked, so they just kept coming to Silver Creek.

These schools mentioned have been long forgotten but they served Bland County for many years. They taught the children everything they needed to know from reading, writing, and arithmetic to discipline and manners.

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