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Established June 2, 1997
by citizens for citizens

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March 16, 1998

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Troop 1773's Longwood School Project
Essay by Caroline

Longwood School: 1857-1901

By Caroline
Troop 1773
 
For most Charlestown residents that live on either Bodine or Valley Hill Roads, they may know there are ruins. Too many don't know of the significance those crumbled walls and debris hold. They just wave it off saying; "It was once a school, that's all. What more do I need to know?" It surprises me that not that many people know about this crucial piece of history.
Before, I used to pass the remains as if they were only a part of the forest. Anyone could think that considering the fact that there are dead, overgrown weeds, plants, and an entire tree growing inside it. It's hard to imagine that there ever used to be an educational establishment there. Although you wouldn't think of it now, Black children used to be glad when school came around. At least they had a school.
On March 27, 1858, they "colored" school was opened for business. It was the place where the School Board sent their "colored" children. All the "colored" children had to pay $0.04 to go to school everyday. This marked the beginning of the Longwood School.
In December of 1858 the school board agreed to add a stove, and a month to the school year now making it five months. Although the school year was increased, the schoolmaster's salary went down.
In 1859, vast changes occurred for Charlestown Township Schools. For example, they required each student to purchase a textbook for every subject. This was a hassle for many parents. The board also demanded that the pupils were to bring absent notices, and be given an exam at the end of the year. These changes were attempts to make the schools more high quality learning systems. Exams were given at every school EXCEPT Longwood School.
During the next five years, the School Board dropped the term "colored" school and started to call it "Longwood School". Even though this act may have seemed more respectful, it would take a lot more for Longwood to be noticed as a school.
The summer school session stopped, and the Board changed the school year to nine months. That is, in every school EXCEPT Longwood School, where it was still only five months.
By 1873, all of the "regular" schools had funding for new facilities and had been completed by this time, EXCEPT Longwood School, where no funding was made.
In 1879, Mary Lloyd was to be the teacher, but she didn't remain long. After trying to get a new teacher, they gave up, and the children at Longwood School had no teacher for that term.
In 1887, a new teacher, Linda McPherson began taking attendance records to the public's attention. She noted that nearly 50% of all the students had perfect attendance or missed only one day of school. This was a step to show others what a great school this was. To show that it was just like all the others, and they didn't slack off. They worked as hard as any other school.
Finally in 1889 the Board decided to equalize the Longwood school term to the other schools, as well as the teacher's salary. The board finally started to realize that Longwood School was a regular school.
Acceptance of the school grew when a 94-1/2 foot well was built for the school in 1895. On March 18, 1895, the Pride of Pickering Council gave the Longwood School a flag and flagpole. At last, the students were beginning to feel like a respected part of the community.
On April 26, 1885, a celebration was held for attendance of the pupils. They sang songs, read poems, and planted an oak tree. They named the oak tree "Bryant" in honor of a poem's author, William Cullen Bryant. Under "Bryant" a glass bottle with the names of people who attended, as well as the pupil's names was buried.
In 1901, the final teacher was reassigned, and after serving 44 years of educational services, the Longwood School was closed.
On June 1, 1902 Longwood School was sold for $2,000 dollars.
Although respect wasn't gained until late in the school's life, it happened. If we cannot help this crucial piece of history at our hands, who will? What would be a better 150th anniversary gift than a restoration? Much more people than just the group here need to know about this. They need to know about the struggles, the joy, the sadness, and the proudest moments of this piece of history. Longwood School just sits there wasting away. If we can help it, many more generations will live to see this school that was a part of our history. Not someone else's. When you leave here, I hope you remember one thing:
"New can be changed old,
Old can be changed new,
But you'll be surprised at
The help you can do"

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