Monday, June 30, 2008

Caught in the Web of Words - Part 2 of ?? - Post 37

In early September, 1950, I had just enrolled as an 11th grade student at Albuquerque High School when, sort of out-of-the-blue, my parents sold our Albuquerque property, and we moved lock-stock-and-barrel to a small farm some 800 miles away near the town of Clinton, located in north central Arkansas. The reasons behind the move, the move itself, and our adaptation to country life are other stories for other times.

My father enrolled us in our various schools almost as soon as we could get our clothes unpacked. My 8th grade sister and the two younger siblings were enrolled in the Elementary School, which served grades 1 - 8; I was the lone high school student.

The school I attended was the Clinton State Vocational Training School, one of several vocational training schools in the state. No, they were not Reform Schools, although I've sometime been accused of needing to attend one! The state legislature created this type of school in 1927, " in which shall be taught the literary branches usual in high schools to the extent and in such form as shall be applicable (to) the training of students therein vocationally; and in which shall be taught the domestic arts; and training shall be given the manual arts, the commercial vocational arts and vocational agriculture, trades and industries peculiarly appropriate to the development and resources of the state of and district. The underlying intent of such training shall be to develop the student along lines appropriate to local conditions." (from History of the Clinton School District.)

The educational emphasis, I soon discovered, was definitely placed on agriculture, "shop" (wood and metal working and a bit of automotive mechanics,) and home economics (sewing, cooking and preserving food). And, lest I forget, Athletics! The school had a crackerjack basketball team, and a passable football team. It was also a "consolidated" school, meaning that students from all over the county were enrolled, not just Clinton residents. Even at that, the high school probably had fewer than 150 students, all told.

Even at the age of 16, I had higher educational aspirations, and I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of courses I thought I should be taking, and more than a bit miffed at being *required* to take two years of Home Economics, which I considered a complete waste of time.

I was rescued from this slough of teenaged despond by my encounter with Mrs. V., both principal of the school and the instructor in English and Speech, who became not only my teacher, but my mentor.

And you thought I never *was* going to get back to the subject!

To be continued. Part Three: In which Mrs. V. teaches me to love words!

PLEASE NOTE: The spider web photo is not mine. I got it from a Wikipedia article on Spider Webs. The photographer is Michael Hartl, and the photo is in the public domain.


Old Lady Lincoln said...

Believe it or not even when our kids came along and attended the Vocational School, most people thought of it as being a school for hard to discipline children or children always into trouble with the law.

After our youngest went to school there taking Data Processing, she started co-oping in her senior year and still does that sort of work. Our son went into Commercial Art, and again he is still doing that.

Our one daughter who also took Data Processing, started co-oping right there at the school in the Business Office and she is now assistant treasurer and will be retiring in about two years after working there 30 years and she'll only be 48.

Then one other daughter came back anad went there as an adult taking Medical Transcription, she has worked at several doctor's offices, several Childrens Hospitals, and when she got pregnant later in life the one hospital set her up so she could work at home. She is no longer with that hospital in Denver, but she still does Medical Transcription from her home for some companies over the internet. She loves it.

I didn't realize they had vocational school back in the 50's, perhaps they just didn't have any around here. Because that would have been something for me.

Abe taught Commercial Art in two different vocational school, for about ten years or so. In fact he had our son in our son's Senior year, which sometimes made it a little hard. LOL

Waiting to read your next installment. Also thanks for your visits.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Pat, one of the things I found so interesting about your article was the emphasis on educating children to meet the needs of the community, rather than trying to develop the individual talents of each child. It's such a different mindset than we have today. (Personally, I think balancing the two sets of needs is best.)

I can't wait to read the next installment.

JC said...

What a tease you are!!!! I'll look forward to part III.

I remember home ec. two if not three years, I also remember typing (manual of course) and bookkeeping. I wasn't good at any of it.

Have a great evening. JC

david mcmahon said...

Can't wait for the next instalment.

Sorry my post title made you groan!!

Hilary said...

No doubt Mrs. V was a fine mentor because you could write a small-town phone book and it would be captivating. Looking forward to part three.

Daryl said...

My husband grew up in Hot Springs ... I am glad you found such a great mentor ...

David sent me!


"JEANNELLE" said...

When I first glanced at the photo on this post, it appeared to me like looking up inside a farm silo! I thought maybe you were going to write about taking a Voc-Ag class!