Pella Chronicle

Days Gone By

June 27, 2008

Looking back at the one room school

Battle Ridge School, located about five miles northwest of Pella, was built in 1870 on 3/4ths acre of ground purchased from Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Hasselman and J. Schippers. It closed in the spring of 1960.

The original school building was destroyed by fire on Dec. 12, 1933. In preparation for a rehearsal for a Christmas program to be given the following week the stove was lit early in the evening. The fire was discovered at 7 pm and was thought to have been ignited by a stove explosion. Fortunately, the school had purchased insurance the year before. The next day neighbors met to make plans to use the $1200 they would collect to build a new school.

In the meantime teacher Janet Steenhoek invited students Wilma Faye Van Zante, Ada Blanche Van Steenis, and Arthur Van Zee to her home for lessons so they wold be able to pass their 8th grade exams. The younger children had a short vacation until the basement of the new building was completed.

Following school reunions in 1976 and 1981 Mrs. Virgil Klein, Raymond Den Adel and Vernon Wielard put together a two volume history of the school. It contains many pictures of students and teachers, newspaper clippings, programs, personal memories of students, etc. A copy is available for reading at the Sterrenberg library in the Pella Historical Village.

Vernon Wielard recalls a visit from County Superintendent Sylvia F. Plotts. (Country school teachers were always a bit nervous about these unannounced visits.) Mrs. Plotts drove onto the school yard the last period of the day and was not happy to find a Halloween party in progress with everyone in costume enjoying special treats.

In her memoir Cora Jonker Hayes also mentions a visit from the County Superintendent. Her teacher Rosetta Walraven actually invited the of Superintendent to hear one the spelling bee contests. Smart teacher. The visit probably meant that there would be no unannounced visit that year!

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