District 2014 Fall Special Edition

October 30, 2014  |  By  | 

2 School History in Mechanicsburg Community School History prior to Mechanicsburg AREA School District The public school system in Pennsylvania began with the passage of the Free School Act of 1834. The leg- islature “encouraged the establishment of free schools in every community.” The length of the school year was set at three months a year. In response to the law, the first public school in Mechanicsburg was taught by Professor McCron in 1835 in the basement of the Methodist Church located at Arch and Locust Streets. By 1837 there were three class- rooms in Mechanicsburg opened five months a year. According to the 1850 census over eighty percent of the students in Me- chanicsburg ages 6 to 17 were in school. This was a high percent con- sidering that compulsory attendance was not mandated until 1895 and then only for students ages 8-13. A growing demand for classroom space led to the building of the Arch Street School in 1874. Old buildings such as the Arch Street building and the Simpson Street have been closed and repalced by modern facili- ties and these buildings have been maintained and refreshed over the years to meet the needs of our student population. During the same period, the Upper Allen School District was organized and offered education in one-room school houses located across from the township including: Bowmansdale, Center Square, Grantham, Garret Grove, Glenn Allen, Kollertown, and the Shepherd- stown schools. The Shiremanstown school district was not organized until the borough was incor- porated in 1874. During the early pe- riod, the students of what is now Shiremanstown were educated by either the Lower Allen or Hampton Town- ship School Districts. The school was limited to two classrooms -- primary and grammar -- until 1904 when the configuration became primary, intermediate and grammar schools. The Free School Act of 1834 only mandated elementary education. Secondary schools were the province of private academies such as the Cumberland Valley Institute located in two buildings on Main Street near York Street. The legislation mandating the creation of high schools came in 1860. Mechanicsburg complied but did not offer a regular course of study. There were no special requirements for promotion. There were final exams but “this consisted of reading a few stanzas and solving a few problems.” It was not until 1872 under the leadership of Professor W. H. Hench that a course of study was established along with qualifications to pass from grade to grade and eventually to graduate. The first graduation was in 1875. Arch Street Building circa 1940 Shiremanstown Elementary circa 1920 Kollertown School of Upper Allen circa 1940 (photo courtesy of the Mechanics- b urg Museum Association) District 2014 Fall Special Edition_Layout 1 10/16/2014 12:33 PM Page 2