Merrill first graders are getting a hands-on history lesson at the Brickyard School this fall. Over three weeks, all 12 of Merrill’s first grade classes will visit the 108-year-old Brickyard School, a real one-room schoolhouse that was moved from the town of Pine River to the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in 1961. This is the 14th year of the program that brings history to life for Merrill students.
A number of retired local educators, as well as members of the Merrill Historical Society, have volunteered over the years to staff the Brickyard School for the first grade visits. The roster of volunteers includes 16 retired teachers this year, including a couple who actually taught in one-room schools.
For their Brickyard School visits, students are encouraged to dress in old-fashioned clothes and bring their homemade lunches in a pail. Lessons in reading, math and science are taught using the means and materials available to schools 100 years ago.
“We hope to give them a little appreciation for how education has changed,” said volunteer Mike Jirovec, a retired high school teacher.
Mary Rohde, a first grade teacher at Kate Goodrich, originally approached the Merrill Historical Society with the idea of opening the Brickyard School for student visits. She worked with retired teacher, Lorraine Muschinske, who took on the task of organizing volunteers to staff the school and develop an agenda for the students. Rohde said she hopes her students come away with a better understanding of the past.
There were nearly 100 schools in Lincoln County over the years, most of which are pictured on the walls of the Brickyard School. Some have been converted to houses or town halls, but most are gone entirely. The era of the one-room country schoolhouse in Lincoln County ended with school consolidation in 1961.