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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  25 - The Public Schools of Eau Claire

by W. H. Schulz

1904 to 1906

(-As transcribed from pages 415 - 417)

During 1904 M. N. McIver was elected city superintendent of schools.  He served in this capacity for two years.  Some important improvements were made during his administration.  The high school courses were again changed.  The changes resulted in the adoption of an English course, a modern classical course, a manual training course, a general science course and a commercial course.  The commercial course was a new venture and proved to be successful from the start.  During 1904 the school census showed a school population of 6,944 of school age.  The total enrollment was 3,744.  The average daily attendance 2,949.  The number of school room eighty-two, the enrollment per room forty-five, the number of grade teachers eighty-two, special teachers six, the amount paid out for teacher's salaries $43,700 and per capita cost for teaching based on enrollment a little under $12 per child.

There were fifteen teachers in high school with an enrollment of 583, an average daily attendance of 441, 184 studied English branches, 169 German, 120 Latin and there were fifty-seven graduates.

The annex was completed and occupied at the opening of the year 1904-1905.

The architects of this building succeeded in the difficult task of combining the new and the old structure into a beautiful and imposing edifice.  This addition to the high school has more than doubled the number of recitation rooms, besides affording an assembly room, capable of seating two hundred people.  This room is occupied for study by the junior and senior classes.  In the annex is also contained a larger, well lighted gymnasium.  No gymnasium teacher has yet been employed, but it is hoped that the board will see fit to engage one in the near future.

Almost the entire third floor of the annex is devoted to science.  The change from the cramped quarters in the old building to the generous rooms, with fine equipment, in the new is a pleasing one.  It has given an added stimulus to effort in laboratory work and has brought joy to both teachers and pupils.

The present strength of our teaching force is due largely to the increased emphasis which has been placed upon experience, in addition to the college degree, as a condition of an appointment to a position.  The novice has no place in a large high school.  Scholarship must ever remain an essential element of the high school teacher's qualification, but it can never take the place of experience added to natural teaching ability.  In no educational work can there be greater need of teachers alive to the responsibility of their calling.  The training of the adolescent mind requires a generous, sympathetic nature, and it requires tact, judgment and discipline peculiar to the management of youth.  The school board is to be commended for the recent increase in the teachers' salaries, for the question of salaries has always been a serious stumbling block in the way of holding our best teachers.

In August, 1905, the school board authorized the establishment of a commercial course.  This has met a long felt want.  Its purpose is to furnish a schedule of study especially fitted for those who wish to enter business pursuits.  The new course has been made out with this end in view, retaining those subjects which are essential to general cultivation.  It was hoped that the opening of this course would attract students to the high school who would otherwise not receive the advantages of a high school education; and moreover that it would hold a large number who drop out during the freshman and sophomore years.  It is gratifying to report that the course, thus far, seems to be accomplishing the purpose for which it was established.

Considering the fact that no special teacher of music is provided there is reason for pride in the excellent results attained.  A strong Glee Club, High School Choral and Mandolin Club have been maintained.  They have furnished music for morning exercises, rhetoricals and other special programs.  Public entertainments were given by the Glee Club and High School Choral last year and the enthusiasm with which they were received gives sufficient evidence of their excellence.

There has been no abatement in the usual interest always shown in athletics.  The football team continues to maintain its position as one of the strongest teams in the state, and it receives the hearty support of the public.  The Athletic Club has always shown a disposition to conduct its contests in an orderly and gentlemanly manner.  In spite of this, such contests have not been entirely free from the demoralizing influences which usually attend upon games of an exciting nature.

An event of importance to the school was the inauguration of a service of cheap lunches in March, 1904.  These lunches are sold at actual cost to the pupils and teachers.  The average cost of a lunch is about four cents and the service is entirely self-supporting.  Only the most wholesome food is offered for sale, and the bill of fare is sufficiently varied from day to day to be attractive.  Practically all of the pupils buy lunches daily, and it is believed they are thereby enabled to carry the work of our long session without loss of energy.  The thanks of everyone interested in the school is due to Miss Clara McNown, who has so faithfully and effectively labored for the success of a lunch counter.  The progress in the high school has been marked and continuous ever since its organization.  Much of this even progress must be placed to the credit of the long and efficient service of the principal.

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