Brickyard School remembers Wisconsin School of the Air

If you know the words to “Chiapanecas” and “Sing Your Way Home,” chances are you listened to Professor Gordon on the radio when you were 12. And if the phrase “Heap Much” makes you feel like hitting the trail, it’s likely that Ranger Mac was part of your science instruction back then. Both Professor Gordon and Ranger Mac were popular radio instructors on Wisconsin School of the Air, a radio education project designed to supplement the curriculum in Wisconsin schools, especially in the states’ thousands of one-room rural schools. At one point during its long history, over 600,000 students were registered for its radio programs.

The story of the Wisconsin School of the Air is the theme of the exhibit at Brickyard School during the Lincoln County Fair July 14-18. In addition to displays outlining its history, several of its popular programs such as “Let’s Sing,” “Let’s Draw,” and “Let’s Write” will be showcased. Photographs and reflections of those radio days contributed by Lincoln County residents will also be featured.

Modern technology and the University of Wisconsin Archives have made it possible for you to experience School of the Air programs again. Two digitized recordings of original broadcasts of “Journeys in Music Land” with Professor Gordon and “Afield with Ranger Mac” will be available for listening at Brickyard School during the fair.

On Sunday, July 18 the walls of Brickyard School will resound with favorite melodies from Professor Gordon and his successors when a Sing-Along will be held. It will begin at 1:30 p.m.; singing will be led by retired teacher Elaine Tabor with keyboard accompaniment provided by Bea Lebal. Come early to find a seat in an old school desk; song sheets and extra chairs will be provided. All singers, hummers and reminiscers are welcome.

Members of the Merrill Historical Society and the Lincoln County Retired Educators Association staff the school during the fair.

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