Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: The value of moving

On Thursday, March 3, we will be moving from the Central Administration Center to the Community Center, now known as The Brave Center. The administrative business and the Morton-Sioux Special Education offices are now completely renovated and are ready to be occupied. The area from the north entrance and into the gymnasium is still being worked on and should be completed by the end of April. In this area there will be 11 additional classrooms and five classroom size rooms that will be used for offices as well as a gymnasium that will be used for physical education and sub-varsity practices. Once the total facility is completely renovated we will have an Open House to allow interested patrons to view the facility.

The employees at the CAB are finding out that it is valuable to move once in a while. Moving forces you to look through all of the information that you have accumulated over the years and dispose of the items that are no longer needed. According to the number of dumpsters that we have filled there seems to be a lot of documents, reports, journals and reference books that have served their useful life. I would guess that every employee will have the need for at least one less filing cabinet once they move.

As we were going through our files and cabinets, we were able to find some things that we never knew we had. Some of the information is very old and truly enjoyable to read. I want to give you an idea of some of the things we found that you might have an interest in reviewing. I will compare how different things are today than they were 30, 50 and 100 years ago.

The first document that I found really interesting was a handbook referred to as the The Rules and Course of Study of the Mandan City Schools. The handbook itself was interesting, but the most interesting thing was that this handbook was adopted in 1897. Yes, that is correct – 1897. At first I was not sure whether the Mandan Schools were even operating at that time. To verify that it was truly a legitimate handbook I called some elderly patrons in Mandan and was assured that it was an actual, official document used at that time. They believe that the Mandan School District was formed in the 1880s.

The handbook describes the duties of the school board, superintendent, principal, teachers, pupils and the janitor. In 1897, the board had five standing committees just like we have today. Their Ways and Means Committee was similar to our Finance Committee; the Auditing Committee reviewed the bills at each meeting; Committee on Buildings and Grounds was similar to our District Facilities Committee and took care of building issues; the Committee on Fuel was created to furnish estimates of the amount of fuel necessary for the use of the schools; and the Committee on Teachers and Schools examined all applicants for places as teachers in the schools.

The schools were divided into Primary Schools – first and second grades; Intermediate Schools included third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades; Grammar Schools included seventh and eighth grades; and High School included ninth, 10th and 11th. They do not mention 12th grade.

One of the tasks that educators are currently working on today is creating the essential outcomes for each subject area. To my surprise, in 1897 they basically had essential outcomes. As an example, during the First Term in first grade, in Numbers (Mathematics) students need to be able to orally recite the combinations of four; Second Term – know the Roman numerals 1 to 10 and be able to count to 100. Work simple problems and orally recite combinations to eight. Third Term-read and write to 100 and do combinations to 11. Teach four steps, fractions, denominate numbers, instant recognition of relations of numbers and accurate and rapid calculations. They were fairly explicit as to what a first grade student needed to know before they became a second grader. They listed these outcomes for every subject in every grade.

The next most ancient document was the 1939-40 Mandan High School Student Handbook. This handbook describes the Curriculum and Courses of Study, indicates that 17 credits were needed to graduate and described each pupil activity program available. The handbook also lists all of the textbooks used and their cost. In 1939-40 an English IV book was valued at $3.20. Today that same book would cost about $100. This handbook includes the names of board members and school employees.

In the 1964-65 handbook, I want to share with you the regulations they had for a dress code. I quote, “Girls are not to wear jeans or slacks to school or to school parties except picnics. This rule does not apply to athletic contests. Overuse of make-up and dyeing of hair is in bad taste and not acceptable in school. Boys are to wear shirts properly buttoned and worn according to the type of shirt, T-shirts are underwear and not proper for school apparel. Slacks or decently fitting jeans are in good taste. Unusual hair styling will not be permitted.” This is quite different than things are today.

The last thing I want to share with you is a statement about Disciplinary Action in the 1962-63 Mandan High School Student Handbook. I quote, “Students who are in continuous ‘hot water’ with first one teacher and then another, soon make their presence in school highly undesirable. The same is true about those who are too frequently absent, do not hand in work on time, and generally show a poor attitude toward school. While it is a pleasure to work with students who sincerely desire a high school education, it is an imposition to expect teachers to waste time on those who do not appreciate their opportunities. Certainly one expects to be patient with students who occasionally make a mistake – however, forgiveness on the part of teachers should be accompanied by good resolve on the part of students. Crocodile tears and smoke ring resolutions may work a time or two, but the students who make frequent excuses are soon found out for what they are.” As you could tell in 1962-63, they were very direct in describing the expectations they had for students.

If it were not for the move we are making we may have never know that these documents existed. Now that we know of their existence we will keep them handy so that if you ever feel you want to reminisce about the past or read a handbook when you were in school, stop by The Brave Center and ask our receptionist for these documents. I will assure you that you will have some enjoyable reading.