Part 4 of 4
The school system in Scarborough has seen many changes over the past 352 years. To demonstrate to you how far we have come in education, Scarborough Middle School students invite you to travel back in time to witness the evolution of a variety of things found in any Scarborough classroom today.
Jess, grade 7
Generally, the American flag hangs from a pole outside every school. Every day, children would go outside to recite the Pledge and the Lord’s Prayer. In the 1920s, the Pledge of Allegiance was introduced, and in the mid-century, all public schools were reciting the Pledge.
The American Flag has a long and fascinating history. In May of 1776, Betsy Ross, often known as the maker of the American Flag, reported that she had sewed the first American Flag. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, shown here: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new Constellation.” Now, our flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, representing the original 13 colonies, with 50 stars for our fifty states
Today, the flag hangs inside each classroom in the Scarborough schools. On Mondays and Thursdays at the Middle School, we stand up and recite the Pledge. Although the Pledge of Allegiance is not the same ritual it was in the 1920s, we continue to honor our country.
Drew, grade 7
School lunch is a necessity that has expanded over the years. In Scarborough at 350: Linking the Past to the Present, it states that the hot lunch program began in 1919, but they only had hot cocoa. Luckily, a short time later, the menu added bread, butter, meat, clam or fish chowder, and donuts. At that point, hot lunch cost from six to twelve cents a meal. Prior to the hot lunch program many students went home for lunch or brought lunch. Warren Delaware recalled bringing his own lunch to Dunstan School in the 1920s.“I carried a sandwich and a jar of milk. Once a year, they would have lunch at school. They’d bring baked beans all hot in a bucket.”
Many kids still bring cold lunches from home, but hot lunch can be extra popular on days with everyone’s favorite foods. At Scarborough Middle School you can regularly get pizza, sandwiches, chips and more. Plus, each day there is a special. There is also a lunch account to help keep track of your lunch purchases, which is around a dollar for any item. They still don’t have donuts though.
Emily, grade 8
Attitudes towards homework in America in general have shifted with the changing times, and the homework levels in Scarborough were no exception to this rule. In the 18th and 19th centuries, when many children seldom went to school, if at all, the homework they were given was limited to rote memorization. As society progressed onward to the early 20th century, school was considered much more important, but homework was blamed for children’s problems and was rarely given. The American school system stayed this way until the fifties, when the Soviet Union launched the first spacecraft. At this point, the government insisted that the school curriculums should become much more rigorous to try and educate American children in math and science, in hopes that they would grow up to help their country become number one in space innovations once again.
In Scarborough at 350: Linking the Past to the Present, Rodney Laughton recalls school life in the 1960s. “We had no backpacks and no homework, and we kept all our school books at school.” Throughout the next fifty years, homework cycled in and out of fashion, with its popularity peaking in the 1980s. Where will it go next? That is up to educators to determine.
Kevin, grade 8
Over time, the curriculum for Scarborough High School has drastically changed. As our society evolves, new curricula have emerged to match these changes. In 1915, there were only two required courses to be completed for each year. These courses were different levels of math and English for each year until fourth year they took U.S. History in the place of math. The number of electives to chose from was much lower than today. Freshmen in 1915 had a choice of three electives and all other years had five.
In our modern high school, each year students are given a packet listing many different classes to chose from. We got to this point over the years as our economy has grown, and the population has increased. This way, they have the ability to hire more teachers for the students. With more teachers, the school can offer a much wider variety of classes. As more and more teachers were hired, the curriculum expanded, with 4 core courses, and 3 other blocks to fill with electives and study halls. Now, as standards have been raised, everybody does some classes that are more difficult than what was offered a century ago.
Emma, grade 8
Christmas, Easter, Passover, Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Yom Kippur are all major holidays in the United States. Some of them like Easter, and Passover are religious holidays, while others like Thanksgiving are native just to America. In school nowadays, holidays aren’t celebrated as much. Part of it is most likely the lack of money and the other part is about not wanting to offend people of certain religions. But, in the past, holidays played a role in school life.
Holidays were sometimes celebrated by a party during school, study of the history of a certain holiday, or a performance. Gifts were often exchanged. In Scarborough at 350: Linking the Past to the Present, Elaine Frederick Killelea shares her her memories of holidays in school in the 1930s. “We drew names of course, and spent twenty-five cents on the gifts we would swap. And the most exciting of all, we put on a show for our families. This was the one time of the year that our parents came to school for this evening party.” In the Middle School today, we celebrate events like House Assemblies and CSS rather than holidays.
- School: The Story of American Public Education,
- Susan Dudley Gold, ed., Scarborough at 350: Linking the Past to the Present (Scarborough, ME: Friends of the 350th, 2007)