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The social conditions of every community can be protected and properly developed and only so far as education provides for training the youth of a community for the duties and responsibilities thereto. It bases its institutions entirely upon the moral and spiritual faculties among men. Our social and political organization rests wholly upon the belief that the majority of men prefer good to evil; hence it is the imperative duty of every community to organize these forces that make for right living that they shall be the dominant forces in the social organism.
At no time in the history of Baker City’s development has there been an absence of strong hands and willing hearts to further such a development of public sentiment. In 1869, while Baker City was but a small mining camp, four men, urged on by the needs of her young men and women, organized the Baker City Academy.
These four persons, Messrs. A. H. Brown, W. F. McCreary, R. A. Pierce and L. W. Nelson, incorporated the company, and were its first trustees. Ten thousand dollars was borrowed from the state and a building was erected where the High School building now stands. While nearing completion this building was destroyed by fire, and another was erected, which was afterwards moved to a vacant hot in the Leven’s addition, where it now stands. Prof. F. H. Grubbs and wife were the first teachers, and their splendid efforts received a fresh impetus when they were followed by Prof. S. B. Barrett and wife. Several other teachers successively took charge, but a lack of support due to a general financial depression, caused the academy to be closed. No estimate can be placed upon the influence for good which the abort career of that institution exerted. Its training for true citizenship has ramified through every social and industrial condition of our fair city, and like a mighty river will continue to gather breadth and depth and majesty. During the decade of years which followed, the work of the public school was varied.
Changing conditions brought about changes in teachers. Each followed such a line of work as his fancy dictated or the needs of the community seemed to demand.
In 1888 Prof. Herbert Kittridge was elected principal, the schools were systematically graded, and a high school course of three years adopted.
Since then energetic and conscientious teachers have faithfully labored to raise the standard of the school to a high plane of excellence, always loyally supported by the tax payers and patrons. In train. if educational enthusiasm and a high appreciation by the citizens of a community, of their school, is an index to its worth, the schools of Baker City are among the best. The system now comprises the usual eight grades, together with a three sad four years high school courses.
Each of the eight grades is divided Into two classes, and promotions are made semi-annually.
All promotions are based on the recitation and the judgment of the teacher on the ability of the pupil to do the work in the next grade. The first four grades comprise the primary department. Here we find thoughtful teachers who have “caught step,” in the forward march of progress of the educational line to watch, to work, and to wait for the light that dawns upon consciousness, intelligent and persistent investigation.
Ephemeral innovations do not conflict with the tests of principle and common sense. The beautiful spirit of the kindergarten permeates much of the work. Clay modeling, paper cutting, folding and pasting, parquetry, weaving, sewing, &c., comprise many of the lessons in realities which lays the foundation for the work that comes later. In all of the grades vertical writing is taught, and a systematic course in drawing is pursued. The work of tile grammar grades is that of the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. A distinct feature of this work is its departmental instruction. This plan has been in operation for two years and has been highly satisfactory. Each teacher has a room and keeps a record of the attendance, scholarship, deportment, &c., of all the pupils in her grade. At the recitation signal each teacher passes to the room where she is to give instruction, and thus has an opportunity of teaching her favorite subjects-in which she gets much better results than in others. The grammar grades curriculum presents a long list of studies and a preparation for these often consumes much of her time and is often unsatisfactory. But this plan gives the teacher an opportunity to achieve the highest excellence in her department of work. With two or three subjects she has more time to broaden her knowledge of the subject matter and familiarize herself with the best methods in teaching it. The pupils are Inspired by different phases of personality and their abilities are less often misjudged.
All of the subjects in the common school course are here taught. Special instruction Is given in physiology and hygiene and memory worn in outline and relief maps is added by the making of pulp maps.
The total enrollment is now 1073, with an average daily through the reputation our schools enjoy in the state. attendance of 798.
The high school is an accredited one, its graduates receiving fifty-six credits at the Oregon State University.
Nor are these credits based on a course of study adapted, but on work actually done. The present enrollment in this department is 82.
The course of study here embraces mathematics, elementary and higher algebra, higher arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry. In the commercial department book-keeping civics, and commercial law. In science, physical geography, physics, geology, astronomy, botany and chemistry. In Latin, Coy’s Latin Lessons, Cornelius Nepos and Caesar. In general history, rhetoric, English and American literature. One year’s work is required in each. In addition to this English and American classics are read throughout the course.
The enlightened policy of the board of education has ever been that those who most need help are least able to help themselves, and the high school course is offered to all aspiring Baker City youths who feel within them the promptings of power and yearn for the higher life of useful action.
It is the training ground for all who may seek its advantages, and is the essence of democracy In its purposes and results.
The present board of directors are:
Hon. G. B. Moulton, chairman;
Hon. S. B. Kidder,
Hon. C. A. Johns.
J. T. Donelly, Clerk.
The following are the teachers and their respective positions:
Miss Gertrude Hodges, B, First.
Mrs. S. McKinney, A, First.
Miss Dora Terry, B, Second.
Miss Gracia Thornton, A, Second.
Mrs. Belle Flaugher, B, Third.
Miss Grace St. Helens, A, Third.
Mrs. Jeanette Wimberly, B, Fourth.
Miss Loin Moeller, A, Fourth.
Miss Della McMurren, B, fifth.
Miss Ada Cleverer, A. Fifth.
Miss Beulah Bowman, B, Sixth.
Miss Myrtle Tracy, A, Sixth, B, Seventh.
Miss Lois Stewart, B, Seventh, A Seventh.
Mrs. M. C. Byam, B. Eighth, A, Seventh.
Miss Nellie Stack, B, Eighth, A, Eighth.
S. P, Barrett, High School Principal.
J. A. Churchill, City Superintendent.