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Week 11: August 24, 2001
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Justin Clune
  Justin Clune making a bow. Read his profile.

Update from the field:
Connie Anderson, Researcher


On a sunny Monday afternoon, our six frontier children packed lunches and marched a mile down the creek to a newly renovated sheep shed. The rough-wood building, nestled on a grassy terrace, is shaded by aspen and cottonwood trees. Inside the dark, drafty shed they found a dirt floor covered with wood chips, a potbellied stove, four rough-built double desks, and crude log and lumber benches. A small chalkboard and a dozen scarce books from the 19th century resting on a single shelf by the teacher's desk complete the scene.

The children are very excited. Their faces are scrubbed, and several are wearing newly sewn clothing. As they cross the creek, they hear the ringing the school bell, announcing the beginning of classes. Today is the first day of school in Frontier Valley.

Like many of the original homesteaders, our frontier families chose not to wait for the Montana Territory legislature to designate a school district. Instead, pooling their time and resources, they converted a dilapidated old sheep shed into a classroom and hired Judy Harding, a school teacher from Helena. Her weekly wages are $1.00 per child.

For the next five weeks, the Frontier Valley School will be an interesting mixture of the old and the new.
 


As they cross the creek, they hear the ringing the school bell, announcing the beginning of classes.
-- Connie Anderson, Researcher


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Justin Clune compares his former life with life on the frontier.
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Justin on chickens. Read his profile.

School's Open

All six students will work from modern textbooks and assignments that must be completed before they return to their classrooms in the twenty-first century, but they will also experience classes as they were in 1883: complete with writing slates, recitations, and period history and geography lessons. It will be a busy term. Our teacher, who was herself educated in a one-room school house, plans to offer special art and music projects. Also, an archaeologist will guide the students in a historic (and possibly prehistoric) dig on a flat terrace behind the schoolhouse; the children hope the dig will yield some interesting artifacts. The five-week term will culminate in a special community program and family picnic.

Sixty-nine one-room schoolhouses once operated in this remote Montana county, but only three remain in operation today. Our Frontier Valley School temporarily increases this number to four.





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