9 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

concert. 12 The

concert. 12 The inaugural meetings of the Druids and Masonic Lodges were also held in the schoolroom, 13 following the committee’s decision in 1878 to allow its use as a lodge room “by some unspecified benefit society to be established in Lincoln”. However, neither the Druids nor the Masons lodges were formed until about two years later. 14 Other groups also used the school rooms for various activities. The cricket club held concerts and dances there on several occasions in order to raise funds and in accordance with the committee’s requirements guaranteed that the rooms would be restored to their usual order on the following day. In 1879 scripture lessons were held in the school room for half an hour before lessons and the Revd. Blake was permitted to use the school room for half an hour over several Sundays, a practice which in the end extended into the next year. In order to attend, children were required to have their parents’ permission in writing. Visiting entertainers and salesmen also used the room from time to time. A Mr Bowron, for example, used the room to extol the advantages of joining the Australasian Mutual Provident Society and a Mr Raymond entertained one evening with a diorama. Dancing classes were also held in the school room and while these were usually conducted in an orderly manner, the actions of one teacher, a Mr Taylor, also a member of the school committee, caused considerable scandal. He used the school one evening without authority by instructing his daughter to lock the school and take home the keys in readiness for the evening dancing class. During the evening the class took over the large school room and used it for refreshments. Although Mr Taylor apologised for this outrage, the committee, including Messrs Herrick, Wolfe, Meyenberg and the culprit, decided that the dancing classes would be cancelled for the rest of the year. 15 The committee had to persuade some parents that although the Education Act of 1877 provided a free education for their children, this did not extend to the free issue of books and other material. The reluctance to pay for these was widespread and in July 1878 the Education Board prosecuted an individual who was ordered to pay for his children’s books and court costs as well. This action encouraged the Lincoln school committee to threaten two householders with legal action unless they made good their arrears in book payments, presumably with the desired result. 16 A more pressing problem was that of ensuring that children attended classes, especially 98

when seasonal work on the farm called for extra hands. To meet this problem the committee asked the headmaster for regular updates on the situation in order to invoke relevant sections of the Education Act when necessary. Despite these matters the school continued to flourish and by the time Mr Banks resigned in 1896 the roll stood at about 130. For most of the 19 th century the school committee decided on the timing of the school holidays. One way the committee could tackle absenteeism during harvest was to declare a holiday. So on some occasions the school was closed for about one month in January and February for the harvest holiday. The term holidays were also decided by the committee: in 1880 the spring holiday was scheduled for ten days in September, the Anniversary Day holiday was scheduled for December 16, and the school was to close for a two week Christmas holiday from December 25. Sometimes the school was closed for other reasons. For example, when Mr Banks was ill a holiday was called until a relief teacher was brought in to keep the school running. In 1898 Mr Cookson was appointed to replace Mr Banks. During his twenty year tenure there were major changes including the school’s transition to a District High School in 1903. He would have watched its gradual decline, until a year after he retired in 1919 the secondary department closed with a roll of only eleven students. The history of these 20 th century years can be found in the two publications (see bibliography) celebrating the primary and the secondary schools. From the small beginnings in the Tod’s home in 1858 education in Lincoln has come a long way. Since the middle of the 20th century local children have been able to attend quality education facilities from pre-school, through primary and secondary schools, to a tertiary education at Lincoln University. Not all citizens of small towns are so fortunate! 99

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