RIO GRANDE COUNTY – Staff at the Rio Grande County Museum worked on an exhibit that includes stories from different schools in the county. The start of the Del Norte schools through the one-room schools to the consolidation of the three districts of the county are part of the display. Museum staff incorporated first-hand stories from students, making the exhibit a unique take on the past.
The exhibit features old school uniforms, sports equipment from the early days of education and testimonials from teachers as well as newspaper clippings about the start of schools in the county.
In 1874, when Rio Grande County was first incorporated, schools were just starting to become the norm for communities like Del Norte. Over the years and through many trials, Rio Grande County has consolidated three districts: Upper Rio Grande, Sargent and Monte Vista. While this is what exists today in Rio Grande County, it took many years to reach this point.
It’s a story told by Ross Johns who attended Robb School in the early 1900s.
Roswell Eugene Johns was born in Osawatomie, Kan., On April 9, 1908, to Roswell and Lena A. Burney Jones Johns. His mother died in 1911. The family moved to Rio Grande County where the eldest Mr. Johns was a farmer in the area now called Sargent. His sister, Elizabeth, helped raise young Roswell who became known as Ross.
Ross Johns served in the US Navy during World War II and was also a farmer in the Sargent area. Mr. Johns died on April 1, 1995 and was buried in the Veterans Center Cemetery.
“My first teacher was Kathleen Halferty, who later became Mrs. Byron Sutley of the Center community and was the first Miss Stampede when she debuted in 1919. At that time, there was no kindergarten; when a boy or a girl reached the age of 5, they started school in the first grade. A teacher taught all grades from 1 to 12 if someone who went to school was advanced enough to learn to be in grade 12. The consolidation of the Sargent School District was completed before students had to drop top grades.
“Back then, students would organize their own recess entertainment. For the girls it was either hide and seek or riding the rudimentary homemade merry-go-round with a few on horseback while the others pushed it around until they were tired or dizzy and then they stood. were changing.
“For the boys, it was baseball, and many of the youthful bickering and brawls that originate from this game. The teacher was constantly on the lookout for differences and scraps between her students during these games. his school lunch in a syrup bucket or suitcase-style lunch kit and the boys and girls “swapped” until everyone was satisfied.
“The Robb School was a large building with a wood and coal stove in the northeast corner. Student desks were raw hardwood with a shelf under the top panel for books etc. There was an aisle in the center of the The professor’s office was at the south end of the building.
against the wall with a blackboard for teachers.
“On Friday afternoon the teacher would let us all do a cipher match or a spelling contest. Everyone liked it and we were looking forward to Friday afternoon where we could have fun,” said Ross Johns.
The exhibition will be available until November 1.