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Students get taste of 19th-century education
Classes visit former one-room school
Julie Martin left and Barbara Martin right show a picture of students who attended the one-room school house
Julie Martin holds a photo of a class that attended the one-room school so visiting students can see it, as her friend, Barbara Martin looks on. - photo by Photo by Tiffany King

The one-room schoolhouse at Dorchester Village Civic Center was used as a classroom to educate young students for the first time in years.
Students gathered to learn about the past, particularly about the life of those who attended the one-room school in the 1850s.

Dorchester Village Civic Center, near Midway, hosted its first school field trip. Gifted students from the GATE program at Joseph Martin and Button Gwinnett elementary schools visited the center and learned how kids their age used to live and learn.

The first place they visited was the one-room schoolhouse, originally built in 1852 next to Dorchester Presbyterian Church on Brigdon Road. The schoolhouse was moved to the center in 2013 and was donated by the Selectmen of the Midway Church and Society.

Students sat at wooden desks, wrote on chalkboard slates, looked at books and toys, were shown how people used to dress and saw a picture of children in class in the schoolhouse.

Dorchester Village board Chairwoman Barbara Martin led the class, while her friend with a similar name, Julie Martin, the board secretary, shared historical tidbits.

The students then were taken on a tour of the civic center building, established in 1938 as the Dorchester Consolidated School. They visited the auditorium; the cafeteria, which now serves as a kitchen; classrooms; the principal’s office; and an area where the students used to play shuffleboard if it was raining outside during recess.

Students enjoyed lunch in the Dennis Christiansen Pavilion, named after a Dorchester board member who died in 2012. Julie Martin described him as someone who always would get things done.

“Whatever needed to be fixed, Christiansen would handle right away,” she said. “You’d say that something needs to get done and the next day, it was taken care of.”

Barbara Martin said: “This is the first time we’ve had a group of children here to visit the one-room school. It’s an exciting time for us. When we envisioned renovating this one-room school, our hope was when classes would come here, we could show them what education was like back in the 1850s. And so we’ve tried to plan things for today that students in the 1850s would’ve enjoyed.”

“We’ve taken the kids in the classroom, we’ve shown them the different things in there, the slates that might’ve been used back during that time, pictures of the dress and attire — not only the children but the adults during the 1850s,” she continued. “Now we have games for them after lunch. And these games are all games used back during that era. We’ve done some research and try to duplicate games that were used back during that time.”

The students enjoyed playing cornhole, ring toss, washer toss and hoop-rolling.

“My favorite part was going in that brick building,” said Joseph Martin student Zoe Hallstrom, 8, as she pointed at the civic center, “and look at where they used to go to school and the classrooms.”

She added that her favorite game was cornhole.

At the end, students took a bus ride over to where the one-room school was originally built.

“We want them to learn about the history of this area,” Barbara Martin said. “Liberty County is so rich in history. This is just one aspect of the education history in Liberty County.”

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