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Tour Through Time: One-room school in Newville remains a shrine to childhood memories
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Tour Through Time

Tour Through Time: One-room school in Newville remains a shrine to childhood memories

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As a young teacher, Paul Harvey knew he had to assert his authority.

That’s why he always insisted the students call him “Mr. Harvey” no matter the occasion.

The Newville-area native was already familiar with the State Road School in Lower Mifflin Township. He had been a student at the one-room brick building from 1912 to 1921.

Prior to that, his mother taught there from 1899 to 1900. Harvey himself would be in charge from 1925 to 1928 with a starting salary of about $85.

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The Sentinel on July 19, 1973, published a story about the memories associated with the school located about five miles north of Newville on Route 233. Built in 1874, it housed students in grades one through eight until 1955 when it was closed with the formation of Big Spring School District.

Like many buildings of its type, it became a hub of community activities, a shrine to childhood memories and a symbol of a bygone era in public education.

A typical school day started at 9 a.m. with morning lessons followed by recess from 10:45 to 11 a.m. Favorite games played by boys and girls included “draw base,” “shooters” and “fox and geese,” all involving a lot of running, chasing and tagging.

Classes resumed until the lunch hour from noon to 1 p.m., which proved to be the big social event in the daily life of rural schoolchildren. Classes resumed after lunch with afternoon recess from 2:45 to 3 p.m. School let out at 4 p.m.

Fundraisers called box socials were often held outside normal school hours. Girls packed a box lunch that was unidentifiable except by a number. The 1973 story explained that a would-be suitor would buy the box and get to eat it with its former owner. Proceeds from box socials would go to the purchase of a school organ, a globe, sheet music or some other useful supplies.

Spelling bees were exciting events that were held either during the school day or in the evening when the entire community could attend to witness the competition.

For many decades after its closing, an annual reunion was held at the State Road School where alumni had the opportunity to stop by and reminisce.

Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, future ideas or tips to jcress@cumberlink.com.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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