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grade, each school year of forty weeks making a grade. Each year was divided into three terms named A, B, and C, A being the first and C the third and highest.
Four years finished the primary grades, and four more years the grammar. The pupils of the 8th C who were able to pass the required examination were then admitted to the 9th grade, the lowest class of the high school. This course enables a pupil of average ability to finish his high school course at about the
of seventeen. It has proved a most satisfactory arrangement and is the basis of the school system now. Meanwhile architects and builders were engaged in erecting the high school building, but before it was completed the board of regents and the board of directors were disbanded by the legislature, and the entire control of the city system vested in a board of education. The city was enlarged by the addition of three districts at this time, so the first board of education numbered twelve members. The city council rooms were rented for their use and the first meeting was held May 11, 1872. No brick buildings were then owned, but three were building, the Pacific school being the first ready.
A. F. Nightingale was elected city superintendent. Mr. Kellom was elected principal of the high school, J. B. Bruner principal of the Izard, Mr. Beals principal of the Pacific, and Mr. Snow principal of the Central or Pleasant school.
Looking at the Izard school to-day, standing nearly in the centre of the city, it seems strange to think that less than twenty years ago the daily papers commented severely upon the folly of buying school property so far out in the country. These schools filled very rapidly, notwithstanding the newspapers. Mr. Nightingale in his first report complains of the crowded condition of the schools and suggests extra accommodations in various directions. His complaints have been echoed and re-echoed in every superintendent's report since.
Mr. Nightengale remained a year, successfully inaugurating Mr. Beals' system of grading. At the end of that time Mr. Beals was elected superintendent. The schools remaining under his charge for seven years, increased rapidly in numbers, and improved with almost equal rapidity. No one person perhaps has had so great an influence on these schools as Mr. Beals. He has been continuously connected with them for twenty-nine years. Associated with him since 1872 have been Mr. Bruner, Miss Anna Foos, and Miss Jennie McKoon. These teachers have had charge of the largest and most important schools in the town. Theirs have been the brains and the hands to execute and supplement the work of the superintendents and boards. Omaha has been exceptionally fortunate in the people associated with the early days of its schools. At present the schools rank high among all cities, and this I believe is owing largely to the noble character and broad minds of those who laid their foundations.
George B. Lane followed Mr. Beals. He made no changes in the system, but brought about several changes in the books used. He remained in office two years and was succeeded by H. M. James, then assistant superintendent of public instructions in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. James found himself in charge of twelve buildings,
. attended by about four thousand pupils in the care of less than one hundred teachers. A striking feature of the schools of that time is the poor attendance. This is attributed to the poor condition of the streets, very few being paved or graded, and to some parental indifference to the advantages of regular attendance. In a list of a score of other cities of a similar size tabulated by Mr. James, Omaha stood at the foot of the list in the per cent. of attendance. Mr. James at once gave attention to this with gratifying results. The increase both in enrollment and attendance has been marvelous and has taxed the board beyond its ability to provide shelter for these crowds. Basements, hallways, and store rooms in school buildings have been hastily arranged and all sorts of buildings rented. Those buildings in fair condition have been enlarged and ten new houses, each seating from five hundred to eight hundred pupils, with about the same number of small buildings varying from one to six rooms, have been erected within the last five years. In 1882 Mr. Hines, the 4th principal of the high school accepted the position of State Superintendent of Connecticut and resigned his position in Omaha. Previous to 1882, Omaha had a smaller high school than any other city of its size. The preparatory high school class was taught only in the central school. This was not convenient for pupils living in the outskirts and to prevent these pupils from leaving school this grade was established in several of the larger buildings. H. P. Lewis was elected 5th principal. To-day the high school is among the largest schools in the United States, even comparing Omaha with many
cities larger than itself. This is proof that the care bestowed upon it by Mr. James, Mr. Lewis, and the board of education is recognized and appreciated in the town. The tremendous increase of 245 per cent. in the public school enrollment against the very moderate increase of 25 per cent. in private schools also attests their popularity. The Omaha Business College established by E. W. Rohrbough in 1878, and Brownell Hall are the only ones of any size, although many have made an effort to get a foothold here.
The law of Nebraska does not forbid corporal punishment, and previous to 1881 each teacher inflicted such punishment as deemed necessary. Mr. James disapproves of corporal punishment of any kind as being degrading to both teacher and pupil and it has therefore been abandoned.
The efficiency of the school was increased first by the appointment of Miss Kate Ball as a special teacher of writing and drawing, then by Miss Lucia Rogers taking charge of music, and later by the appointment of H. M. Kummerow as teacher of calisthenics. The purchase of a quantityof supplementary reading matter was an improvement at this time and in accord with the most advanced educational theories.
As another inducement to take the high school course, the experiment of adding a manual training school was begun in 1884. Mr. Albert Bauman, a graduate of the St. Louis Training School, was employed as teacher. This branch has proved a success and is still in active operation. A cooking school for girls was tried soon after, but did not prove the success its sponsors had hoped for, and was abandoned at the close of the year. To Omaha belongs the credit of having been the first city to establish a manual training school as a regular branch of the city school system. In 1884 the city changed from one of the first-class to a metropolitan city, and its board of education was again disbanded by the legislature and a new board of fifteen members elected by the city. The secretary, formerly a member chosen by vote of the rest of board, was no longer a member but was employed by the board.
The legislature of 1883 passed a law requiring all teachers in this state to teach the effects of intoxicating drinks, and all stimulants and narcotics upon the human race, so that instruction in physiology and hygiene became a part of the work of all grades. Perhaps, however, the most important step the board of education have taken was in 1885. All books to be used throughout the schools were henceforth to be supplied to the pupils by the city. The advantage of this arrangement are inestimable.
Mr. James in 1885 made a change in grading. He divided the year's work into two parts instead of three, the highest class being since known as the B class.
In 1888 a course of book keeping was added to the high school electives and has become very popular. Since then no changes have taken place.
1890 finds Omaha with over twelve thousand pupils attending her schools and fifty-one school buildings in the care of two hundred and seventy teachers.
THE CHRISTENING OF THE PLATTE.
BY JAMES W. SAVAGE.
It is en-,
In the sixth volume of his collections of manuscript documents relating to America by M. Pierre Margey, the distinguished historical investigator of France, is given a brief synopsis of an account of a visit in the year 1739 to the territory now included in the state of Nebraska, which seems worthy of translation or paraphrase, and of a place in the records of the Historical Society of our state. titled, “The Journey of the Mallet Brothers with Six Other Frenchmen from the River of the Panimahas in the Missouri Country to Santa Fe.” To comprehend the full significance of the expedition it
” will be useful to recall to our minds the jealousies, the rivalries, the contests and treacheries, the massacres, the assassinations, the crimes of all. sorts which the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed as the result of the discoveries by Columbus.
Spain, reasonably secure in her possessions of the country west of the deserts beyond the Mississippi which the valor and prowess of Cortez had given her, laid claim also by virtue of the revelations of the Genoese navigator to the whole of Florida, under which attractive name was comprehended the entire region from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and from the gulf to the north pole. France, grudging the glory and the wealth with which the new world had adorned the crown of Charles the Fifth, entrusted to Verrazzano the task of finding the opulent kingdom of Cathay, and as a result of his discoveries laid claim to the same extensive country. The hostility thus begun lasted for more than two centuries.
The French complained with indignation that the Spaniards thought that the new world was created expressly for them, and that no other man living had a right to move or breathe therein. The bitterness engendered by these rival interests led to the atrocities of Menendez and Gourgues, the butcheries of Fort Caroline and St.