Champion School, District 1
By 1806 a frame schoolhouse replaced the original 1801 log schoolhouse. Both were on the Village Green. When the 1806 school on the Green burned down, the next elementary building was erected across the gulf on the Great Bend near the cemetery. After the church was brought down from the Green, the school on the Great Bend was taken down, and a new one built next to the church. This school is the one moved to Black River in 1893, then again by the Four Rivers Historical Society to its historical complex at Great Bend. It has been restored so students can come and learn how a one-room schoolhouse functioned.
The school commissioners' books for the town of Champion contributed some interesting statistics on the Champion School District. In 1820, the first year recorded, 55 pupils were taught; five years later the number had risen to 100. There were 81 pupils in 1847, and by 1870, the number of pupils had shrunk to 21. Many of the boys attended during the winter months until they were 21. It appears, however, that many of them regard school as a "frolic" to fill up a few idle weeks in the farm work. Harassment of the teacher was the established custom; usually a male teacher was hired for the winter term when the older boys would be present, and a female teacher for the summer term, which was attended by only the younger children.
Existing clerk's records for District 1 begin in 1903. The first entry is dated August 4, 1903 when it was voted to buy a dictionary for $5, the state to pay the other half. Total expense for running the school in 1903-04 was $464.56. The state inspector urged that the drainage of the school yard be improved but nothing was done about the matter until 1914 and was not completed until about 1920.
The first motion to transport high school pupils was introduced in 1932. It failed to carry. (High School students had to go to Carthage if they were to continue their education, and many people saw the burden as being "too much for the district in view of the times and nature of employment, and that it was not necessary to furnish transportation under the existing education law". However, the state education department disagreed and the transportation issue was carried in 1935. The eighth was also transported to village schools in 1939.
In 1939 it was also appointed a committee to look into installing flush or chemical toilets. If no toilets were installed, the money was to be used to paint the schoolhouse. After a special meeting in 1941, it was voted to install new toilets and a septic system.
The first move move to close the Champion School came in 1947, but the move was defeated and the school stayed open. At a meeting held April 1, 1958 voters finally decided to bring to an end the public school in Champion. For the first time in 158 years there was to be no school in Champion village. The last pupils were Robert and Joan Haver, Timothy and Bradley Tripp; also two dogs.
Champion School today
The Champion School was constructed in the first half of the 1800's. At the time it stood next to what is now the grange hall in Champion. It was the first school in the Town of Champion. Classes were held in the building until the 1950's. The School was closed shortly after the Carthage area schools centralized. It was purchased and moved to the Black River Garden Center on Route 3.
In 1987 it was donated to the 4 River Valleys Historical Society with the understanding that the Society would have the building moved. Major fund raising for moving and renovation of the school was kicked off in Nov. 1987. In June of 1988 the Champion School was moved to its present location, on the 4 River Valleys Society property in Great Bend, New York.
The school is 95% restored. It is hoped that in the near future we will be able to invite elementary classes for a day of local history. It will give these children a chance to use original desks and materials and learn a little about the area they live.
(courtesy of the 4 River Valleys Historical Society Website http://www.4rvhs.org/chamschool.html )
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