2013, Sahalie Publishing

2013, Sahalie Publishing
256 pages, over 100 pictures

Limited edition...

The Brass Bell can be purchased online at Sahalie Publishing and Amazon.com.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Parent Involvement

The Cherry Leaf

Whether it's an old-fashioned ditto-mastered newsletter mailed to parents or a classroom blog, reaching out to families is one critical element for school success.

The leadership of Cherry Road School have always understood this. One of the first things Marion Parsons did when the new school was finished in 1927 was to establish The Mother's Club.

In 1932, a school newspaper called The Cherry Leaf began publication. Its masthead declared that it was "Published by the Pupils of Cherry Road School--School District No.1, Town of Geddes." Using it as a tool to teach children about running a business and managing funds, ads were sold to support the cost of printing and postage. Student reporters shared news and events. They wrote about fundraising luncheons, the advent of a new scoutmaster; purchase of new sports equipment, glee club, and drama club news. The Cherry Leaf had a staff of 11 student editors by its second edition in December of 1932. Lloyd Mitchell, as student Editor-in-Chief, used the metaphor of the stages of an acorn growing into a mighty oak tree as a comparison to that of "...a boy or girl through their life in school....if they don't start out right they won't end up right."

I've discovered in my extensive research into the history of Cherry Road School, through my many conversations with alumni, that students who attended from 1926 through the 1950s credit much of their success to the start they received at Cherry Road School. It was the strong element of parental involvement that motivated them in years to come. It was the parents' partnership with teachers and administration that kept them on the straight and narrow when they were in school....no room to play one side against the other. The adults were united, but according to the stories that by now have been re-told hundreds of times, they were fair. If a kid suffered a consequence, they knew they had it coming.

Many have told me that because of the strong foundation of parent involvement, this school felt like a family. And the students didn't want to let the family down, so everyone tried their hardest to do their best. Some of the most interesting stories are the pranks that were played by the kids who knew if they were caught, what the outcome would be...one alumni put it this way: "...if I had been caught, there would have been nothing left of me put a dark puddle on the sidewalk." They accepted what was right and what was wrong and had a great time trying to see what they could get away with. Each accepted their punishment when it came. They knew their parents would never defend them against the teachers. Imagine. Teaching in a supportive and supported environment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On the Home Front, WWII

"But there is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States--every man, woman, and child--is in action, that front is right here at home in our daily lives."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1942

Like school children all over the country, the lives of the students of Cherry Road School were changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On the home front activities included air raid drills and collecting seed pods, piling them up in the gymnasiam. The milkweed pods were used to make parachutes.

Older brothers had gone off to war. Patriotism was a way of life, and children of Cherry Road School were part of a community effort.

I'm looking for stories from anyone who was there during this time. What can you remember about those days that you would be willing to share for the purpose of the book, The Brass Bell?

Please comment on this post or contact me directly at:


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Time in Perspective

One thing I've learned while researching the history of a small farm community turned suburb, a one-room schoolhouse turned successful district school, is that time passes in less than a blink. People and the times in which they live are larger than life in that moment and then gone from memory just as quickly.

The women in this picture, from left to right, Grace Parsons Cole, Marion Parsons, Martha Parsons, and Julia Jerome, were young girls playing in a cherry orchard and climbing in haylofts. Before they knew what hit them, they were in charge of the future. Now they are part of the past that few who are still living remember.

The Brass Bell will tell the story and provide a marker in time to remind those of us who would take for granted our time on earth that what we do here counts, and that we've only a few minutes to get it done.

Back in Oregon, work has resumed on the book. Thanks to those who contributed to my efforts on this last research trip to Syracuse. This past weekend John and I stumbled upon an old log cabin in the hills outside Portland. On the Oregon Trail, the home is preserved by the local historical society. As I stood by the old hearth, imagining a cold winter day in 1840-something, a deeper understanding of the importance of historical preservation crept into my psyche. I will try to work as hard to finish the book on time as was the volunteer who was digging weeds in the front yard of the old homestead. It wasn't that long ago that a family who crossed thousands of miles in a covered wagon piled log upon log to build the cabin in which the family lived for nearly a century. I will strive to be half as brave as they.