Performances celebrate rural schools

Performances celebrate rural schools A one-room schoolhouse teacher, "Mrs. C," was in danger of being tardy one morning because her cat fell into the outhouse. Fortunately one of pupils, at whose home the teacher was boarding, had a plan for retrieving Kitty Poo, and the class began as scheduled.

Another student on his way to school had to use his lunch pail to ward off a coiled rattlesnake. In another corner of the state, students and their teacher, snowbound during one of South Dakota's spring blizzards, passed the time playing games while awaiting rescue by worried parents.

Two special performances are scheduled to celebrate the memories and legacy of rural school experiences. On April 28 at 4 p.m. at the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion, Dr. Wayne S. Knutson will present a special lecture "Oh, Up From Every Valley: The Legacy of the One Room School Experience." Fern Kaufman will follow with "The YCL in the Country School," a presentation about the Young Citizens' League, a civic organization associated with country schools in South Dakota. Thursday's program is open and free to all; refreshments will be served.

The second special presentation is The One-Room School, a readers' theater program that examines the one-room school and its social, political and economic impact on the plains. The performance incorporates story telling, song and movement to evoke the one-room school experience.

The One-Room School will be performed at the W.H. Over Museum on April 29, at 7:30 p.m. Auditions follow the April 28 programs � no theatrical experience necessary � just come to the museum. Tickets for the theater presentation are available at the door: $2 for adults and free for children. A discussion period immediately follows the performance, and audience members will be encouraged to reminisce about their own rural school memories. A reception follows.

The Vermillion Area Arts Council is coordinating the program, and the Esther & Wayne S. Knutson Foundation and the Chiesman Fund for Civic Education are underwriters for the Vermillion performance. For additional information, contact Evelyn Schlenker at 624-5444 or

The One-Room School is a special project of the SD Humanities Foundation. Proceeds support South Dakota Humanities Council activities statewide. In addition to the readers' theater, a book entitled One-Room Country School (edited by Norma Wilson and Charles L. Woodard) is also available.

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