Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Send the Kids Far Off to School?

Typing the post about my old middle school reminded me that I was part of a big change that went on at many schools at that time and is still going on; the Big Shrink.

When I started school in the Iroquois district in January 1968 (half-year kindergarten then) there were elementary schools in Iroquois and Cavour, a middle school in Yale, and a high school in Iroquois. We lived in Iroquois so I went there. When the old high school building was condemned the elementary schools were combined in Cavour, so I went there for 5th grade. Just after I finished 8th grade in Yale that building was also condemned (I still recall being outside between classes and watching it shake from the kids changing rooms); 6th grade went to Cavour, 7th and 8th to Iroquois. (This was a bit of a downer to us at the time; moving up to High School didn't seem the same with the younger kids tagging along.) Later the Cavour was closed and torn down, and now all the grades are in Iroquois.

I didn't really think too much about the reason behind this until I got to high school, specifically the lunchroom. Pictures of past graduating classes hung in there, and I noticed that for several years the classes had been getting smaller, and it was continuing; the senior class was the biggest, followed by juniors, sophomores, then us. My graduating class had 30 kids; 3 years later, my brother's class had 20. A check of current numbers is really depressing - 13 each in the senior and sophomore classes, 10 each in junior and freshman, with single digits in some of the lower grades.

This had been going on for long before I started noticing,of course. Those buildings in Cavour and Yale had been independent schools at one time, when every town could support one. Now school districts outside the main towns are getting so sparsely populated that the logistics are becoming impossible. Sometimes I think the only way residents of some areas will be able to have children will be to either home school them or revive the old boarding school and send the kids to stay with someone in town.