Homerooms

“Home room was a starting point. It was a place to report at the start of the day, a place where all were accounted for.

After that, it was left to each individual to pursue their interests, to go wherever one desired to seek knowledge and fun. Activities were scheduled but the students were not. We were entrusted with a freedom to choose our activities, and to go as we pleased to soak in the opportunities for learning. and there were always many choices to choose from.

It must have seemed quite unorthodox to any outsiders that elementary school children could be entrusted with such freedom at such an early stage, but I would like to think that such an approach sparked a thirst for learning that has guided me through life with a very high degree of inquisitiveness and a very open minded view of the world.

For these things, I feel very fortunate to have participated, and I am grateful for this opportunity to thank all those people who made it possible. I am now thankful for this forum that brings us together to share with each other our impressions and our memories.  Thank You!!” – Rex Nordheimer

“A funny story with Dan Lee: For a short period we had home rooms to start the day, and mine was in the nurse’s room near the gym with Cathy Saltenstall. She was sometimes a bit late so we set up a cup of water on the top of the door with a string tied to the sprinkler pipe so it would tip on her when she opened the door. Only it wasn’t Cathy that came in first, it was Dan. He got the full load and was not too happy. I was terrified. But he pretty well laughed it off.” – Sid Bardwell

“I remember you [Kira]! I think I was in your room, journaling, cuisinaire rods, raising rats, a book case falling over, making pizza, doing imitations of Richard Nixon out on the front lawn…a vague memory of some conversation about time seeming long when you are a kid, but shorter when you grow up. I could be mis-remembering….” – Caroline Clavel

“[Kira and I] had all kinds of interesting conversations about books, animals, science, etc…” – Kyllikki Inman

“Ruth Wishik taught me to give backrubs, and we learned to braid hair on her long hair, and then the whole class made a huge braided rug, nearly the size of the classroom. We must have had help, but I don’t remember. I was heart-broken when she cut her hair and left to go to law school.” – Karen Carr

“By the way, you were three years old [I was five, but very small – Karen] when you joined my kindergarten, first and second grade combined classroom at East Hill School so 2 years younger than anyone else and half the size. That didn’t stop you from holding your own and being fully engaged in learning.

And yes, we made rugs and pillows from old neckties and other strips of cloth that we didn’t braid but rather crocheted with giant wooden crochet needles, including the round rug we used to gather on for reading time and other purposes. We read James and the Giant Peach that year I recall, among other books.” – Ruth Wishik (now Heather).

“You might yourself remember our cleanup theme in the rug room in the first year.  At the end of each day we would put the Beatles “Yellow Submarine,” on the tape player.   The song lasts 3′: 48″   That was the signal and the time to clean up the room so we’d start the next day with a more or less clean slate. 

To this day  I can’t hear “Yellow Submarine” without thinking…   ‘Cleanup time ! Everyone!   Rex, get the broom and start in that corner.   Anna, you can play the guitar again tomorrow…Karen, please put your book away now before you get run over…Everyone ! check your cubbies…Have you got all your stuff? ‘” – Bill Mutch

“We didn’t want to take money to hire a janitor, so Dan Lee combined being principal and janitor. I remember him pushing the big broom around the hallways. But we kids also understood that we had to do more of the cleaning than at a regular school, because there wasn’t a janitor. 

They used to put the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine on the record player when it was time to clean up, and everyone would pick up little scraps of paper as long as the music was playing.” – Karen Carr

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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