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Leyden students learn school similarities, differences from 19th century to present

  • Third- and fourth-grade students from the Pearl Rhodes Elementary school in Leyden visit the Four Corners Schoolhouse on West Leyden Road in Colrain near the “Ten Mile” bridge to Leyden. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Photos of former students at the Four Corners Schoolhouse on West Leyden Road in Colrain.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Four Corners Schoolhouse was in use from 1850 to 1938 on West Leyden Road in Colrain near the “Ten Mile” bridge to Leyden. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Janet Miller talks to students from the Pearl Rhodes Elementary School in Leyden, who visited the Four Corners Schoolhouse on West Leyden Road in Colrain this week.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Four Corners Schoolhouse was in use from 1850 to 1938 on West Leyden Road in Colrain near the ‘Ten Mile’ bridge to Leyden. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Third- and fourth-grade students from the Pearl Rhodes Elementary school in Leyden visit the Four Corners Schoolhouse on West Leyden Road in Colrain.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Third- and fourth-grade students from the Pearl Rhodes Elementary school in Leyden visit the Four Corners Schoolhouse on West Leyden Road in Colrain. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ



Staff Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2018

LEYDEN — In some ways, school in the 19th century wasn’t so different from the way it is now.

That’s what third- and fourth-grade students from Leyden’s Pearl Rhodes Elementary School learned on a recent field trip. Students back then had homework, went to school five days a week and sat in neat rows of desks.

The trip to a former one-room schoolhouse in Colrain was part of a year-long learning project on the history of Leyden, coordinated by third- and fourth-grade teacher Patty Solomon.

At the end of the school year, Solomon said, students will host a community event where they will tell historical stories about life and education in Leyden. They will also create an interactive map showing locations of historic schoolhouses around Leyden, which will be available online.

The old schoolhouse they visited was in operation from 1850 to 1938 as Four Corners School. The building was unused until about 40 years ago, when it was bought by the Miller family, who lives on a neighboring plot of land. The family restored the building about 20 years ago with period-authentic chalkboards, school desks and bookshelves arranged in a classic one-room schoolhouse setup.

While some aspects of the old school were familiar to the Leyden students, others seemed strange, like the discipline seat facing the wall in the corner.

Janet Miller, whose father in-law went to Four Corners, told the Leyden students about the dunce cap that would have come with the discipline seat. That was also new to them. The classroom also had a piano, which Miller said might have been part of the lessons, if the teacher happened to be a musician.

Four Corners had students from first grade through eighth grade all in one room with only one teacher, which would have made for the biggest difference. Solomon said that her grandfather, who went to a one-room schoolhouse in Indiana, liked the model, because he could listen into what older kids were learning.

“Some of it’s similar to what you have today,” Miller said. “A lot is different, but some of it is the same.”