We Boomers remember when we began school the day after Labor Day – as did our parents. A check of the UDC archives available online through the county library website provides nuggets of back-to-school news, preparation, and a few surprises: reminders of eras past, when school was the same, but oh so different.
1926: Urbana Superintendent Cookson has announced required textbooks to be secured for the coming year. Pupils should purchase their books early to avoid first-day congestion at bookstores.
1937: The new head of Urbana Schools announced free textbooks will be provided to all students. Parents wishing to purchase books for personal ownership can obtain them at his office.
1939: School bells will ring for 2,700 pupils and 119 teachers in the Champaign County rural system. Woodstock, Salem, Harrison-Adams, Christiansburg-Jackson, Urbana rural, Terre Haute, Westville, and Concord will open on Labor Day for a morning session. Opening Tuesday morning: Johnson-St. Paris, Cable, North Lewisburg.
1948: CROSBY, The Drug Man, Back-to School Specials…Crayola Crayons, package of 8, 6¢…Pencil Tablet, 3¢…Ink Tablet, 8¢…Mucilage, 9¢
1954: The Maroon and White’s fast stepping marching band, directed by Bob Martin, is getting in as many hours of practice as the UHS gridders.
1955: School supplies at Miller Office Supply…One dozen pencils, 39¢…Urbana City School workbooks
1956: County Superintendent Franklin Lehn announced only one teaching vacancy in the county: fourth grade at Rosewood. Opening day sessions Tuesday will be limited to the morning only.
1957: To protect the health of school children, the Department of Health urges co-operation of the home. Child should have received compulsory smallpox and diphtheria immunizations, as well as polio immunizations.
1958: Stadler’s Boys Shop…Head of the Class Togs…Western Jeans, $1.98 to $3.95
1959: Optimism prevails over the Christiansburg-Jackson gridiron even after last year’s “perfect” 0-7 season. Only 26 hopefuls turned out for summer practice, but Coaches Dave Boggs and Kenna Layfield hope for 4 more when classes commence. Graham and Miami East will be their strongest opponents.
1960: Urbana Daily Citizen “Back to College Rates” subscription by mail to any student attending school in Ohio, Fall through Spring term, $6.00
1961: A seven-page College Directory lists the names of 290 Champaign County students headed to college. OSU is the destination for 61 county students, with 42 choosing Urbana Junior College.
1963: Todd’s Book & Gift Shop…Slide rules, $1.95…Fountain Pens, $1.00
1964: New students at Triad Elementary must register on September 1, with birth certificate, immunization record, and previous report card. Children must be 6 years old by October 1, 1964 to register.
1966: It’s School Time for the Kiddies. TROUTWINE, your friendly SUPER VALU Store, asks drivers to be alert. Kids are on the move!
1967: George Dallas has been named superintendent of Graham Local School District. He will earn a yearly salary of $14,000. Dallas will assume his new duties sometime during the first two weeks of school.
1968: Litton’s…Back-to-School Dresses…Shirtwaists, Shifts and Tent Styles, Sizes 4-14, $3.25 to $4.98
1969: Twelve school buses for Urbana City Schools will soon swing into action. Over 1500 students will be transported more than 212,000 miles this year. Students living beyond the “line of reason” from their assigned schools are eligible. Those living within that line must furnish their own transportation.
1970: Virginia Townsley will serve this year as “Sparky,” UHS Athletic Director Don Keebaugh has announced. Cheerleader Advisor Jean Zerkle is confident Virginia “will represent the tradition with spirit and honor.” Virginia is UHS’s eleventh “Sparky.”
1971: Dear Ann Landers, parents only THINK they know what their teenagers look like at school. Three turns of the waistband, and a skirt becomes a micromini. Boys recomb their hair at school, and girls apply heavy eyeliner, eyeshadow, and false eyelashes after they leave the house. Schools should have the authority to decide what is permissible, not the parents who do not know what their teenagers really look like at school. Dear Parent, what kids wear is one of the minor problems today’s parents and schools must cope with.
1972: Mothers with children in Mechanicsburg Kindergarten are requested to meet September 8 in the music room to get acquainted and assign classes. The children need not attend.
1973: Sister Carren Herring is the new principal of St. Mary School. Current enrollment stands at approximately 185.
1974: Graham teachers Loretta Thien, Jane Gicale, Brenda Uhl, and Dorothy Sommers attended the State Vocational Home Economics Conference to gain ideas for this year’s program. Curriculum offerings include Home Economics I and II, Senior Non-Major, Child Development, Family Living, Bachelor Living, Advanced Clothing, Home Ecology, Advanced Goods, Home Economics Job Training.
1975: The deteriorating 60-year-old North Lewisburg Elementary School has been closed, the victim of age and high operating costs in a district forced to make budget cuts. Students will attend classes in the Triad and Woodstock elementary buildings.
1976: West Liberty-Salem Schools will open with a projected enrollment of 1168. Prices for school lunches are 40¢ for grades 1-6 and 50¢ for grades 7-12.
1977: The Main Council PTA will meet September 1 in the UHS Library. Mike Major will speak on future potential for video tape programs in art education.
In the mid-to-late 1970’s opening day for schools began migrating to late August dates. Nowadays, the first day of school is sprinkled all over the calendar. Students, teachers, parents, staff: I wish each of you a successful year of meaningful learning and discovery!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.