One-room schoolhouse transports children to the 1920s

Medlen School House was host to a class of grade school children learning about what school was like in the 1900s


Grade-school students stepped back a hundred years into the past at Medlen School House on South Turkey Creek Road this week, learning the four R’s: “reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and recitation.” 

The one room Medlen School House was built in 1866. The Evergreen Mountain Area Historical Society offers the opportunity for children in grades 1-6 to come experience what learning in the 1920s was like by spending three days in class at Medlen. 

Jo Ann Dunn has been teaching students about the olden days at the schoolhouse since 1998. She has seen her own grandchildren come through the program and even has one as a helper this year. Dunn enjoys spending the summer days with the children and hopes to give them an immersive experience. 

“My goal with all of this is to give them an appreciation of history,” Dunn said. 

The program ran two separate three-day camps this summer, and Dunn said that the experiences always vary.

“Every week is different,” she said.

The class practices subjects like reading, writing with ink, arithmetic, writing on slates and performing plays. They also learn skills like making lemonade and ice cream. When it's time for recess, the children play traditional games like marbles, jacks, jump rope and more. 

Grace Ann Dunn, Jo Ann's granddaughter, attended classes at Medlen when she was younger and is helping her grandmother with the class this year. She is a sophomore in high school in Longmont and has hopes of becoming a teacher herself one day. 

Grace Ann said that helping out with the class this year has been rewarding. She enjoyed seeing how advanced the kids are and watching them respect the space she has grown up loving. 

“It’s nice seeing it in a different perspective,” she said. “I love the experience of going back into the 1920s.” 

One of the students in class was Madilyn Donovan, an 11-year-old who attends King-Murphy Elementary School. She has been coming to the one-room schoolhouse for the past five years. 

Donovan enjoys math and reading in class at Medlen, and likes the quaint details like the water pump and “old-timey clothes.” She also enjoys the plays they practice and perform, and can definitely recognize the key differences between her time at Medlen and King-Murphy. 

“In normal school we have all this technology, and here all we have are books,” she said. 

After observing the class from a helper’s perspective, Grace Ann said some of these unique experiences can help bring usually shy kids out of their shells. 

“It’s one of those experiences you have to have,” Grace Ann said. 

Some of the pairings of pinafores with Croc shoes may have been a bit untraditional, but the students leaned into their time at Medlen and enjoyed learning about the past.

Medlen School House


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