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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Last of the Series of Tours (Millard Academy)

This was an absolute labor of love for me to reminisce as I walked readers through my old Elementary School.  There were periods of tears flowing down my cheeks, there were  smiles and out-loud guffaws as I strolled through some of these old memories.  I hope you won't find them too tedious.  Thank you for your patience and for wandering with me through an important part of my childhood.

Hinckley Elementary School--Part III, Upstairs

          Welcome back to the Millard Academy.  How generous of you to come and finish the tour of this splendid, old building.

            Let's head up the north staircase with its carved oak banister and balusters, past the girl's restroom on the landing and up the next stairway to the second floor.  We'll step off the stairs into the interior corridor, walk forward and turn right to the only door on the north end.  This leads into Mrs. Tolbert's second/third grade classroom.  The most vivid memory I have of third grade and this room was Mrs. Tolbert's piano and singing folk songs about Billy Boy (who liked a young thing who could not leave her mother), On top of Old Smokey (all covered with snow), Down in the Valley (where you hang your head low); and so many others.

            Coming out of Mrs. Tolbert's room, as we head south along the carpeted corridor we come to the double swinging doors centered on the west wall.  I was fascinated by this room with its heavy, old, walnut tables and walls of books.  Because of this space, I have always wanted a library in my home.  I'd like to replicate this room exactly with its rich, dark wood furniture, moldings, and doors; bookshelves from floor to ceiling on three walls; and huge framed windows overlooking the school yard and town.

            Straight across the corridor from the swinging library doors, was a set of four steps going up to the back entrance onto the stage in the auditorium.  There was a set of coatrooms on either side of that door.  I think I might have to devote another column to these coatrooms and the antics that went on there.  A monster lived in one which devoured school papers, mittens, sweaters and other miscellaneous items and got me into big trouble once.

            Back down these steps, we will turn left and walk to the only door on the south wall. This was Mrs. Hardy's fourth/fifth classroom.  Within this room I learned Utah history, discovered my love for Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and developed friendships that have lasted through the decades.  It is a place I connect to pure joy and great sadness.  Mavis Hardy was a sparkling personality and a delight to be around.  Every student loved her and I was thrilled, after spending my fourth grade year in her class, to find my name on her door on the first day of fifth grade.  Unfortunately shortly after that school year began, Mrs. Hardy became ill and starting missing days, then weeks at a time, and finally she didn't return.  Mrs. Hardy passed away in 1973.  School was closed for her funeral and the church was filled far beyond capacity with family, friends, and students paying respect to this marvelous lady.  It was the first tragedy of my life.

I spent my last elementary year in Mr. Farnsworth’s fifth/sixth classroom in the southwest corner of the top floor of the school. Mr. Farnsworth spent the entire year telling us he was preparing us for junior high, but I think he prepared us for life.  He effectively taught all the academic subjects, but in addition our class produced the school newspaper; we decorated the bulletin boards each month; and we adapted several books into plays.  Blue Willow and Robin Hood hold a special place in my heart because of my roles in those productions.

From Mr. Farnsworth's classroom, we'll stroll across the wide corridor and then along a narrower walkway to enter the auditorium that takes up the entire east side of the top floor.  This room was the crowning jewel of the Millard Academy.  It had a beautiful hardwood floor; a raised stage with a heavy, royal blue, velvet curtain; and great arched ceilings which made the acoustics so superior, a sound system wasn't needed.  I remember years of dancing, school programs, class photos, plays, and sixth grade graduations that took place in the auditorium.  I'm pretty sure if you look there now, you would find a piece of my heart tucked away in a corner because I left it there when I graduated from Hinckley Elementary School in May of 1974. 
An old photo of the stage at  the Millard Academy--1920
  Until two years ago, I worked for the Arts in Education Division of the Utah Arts Council, during that time I was invited to many private and public institutions to help establish arts programs. I have also had the chance to visit schools of several states and even other countries. I discovered there are wealthy schools and there are underprivileged schools, there are facilities parents pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for their children to attend.  I always find myself comparing my own education to what these schools offer and I have come to the conclusion that I had one of the richest learning opportunities available anywhere in a beautiful, old, historic building located in Hinckley, Utah.
This is how the auditorium looks now with the plaster torn down and
wood flooring pulled up.  I have great hopes that it will be restored
to its former majesty and that I can visit it without crying someday.

Send your comments concerning this or any other topic to Georgia by phone or email--801-737-4787 or 


wendy said...

How cool to work with the Utah Arts Council...I'd love that.
Nice wrap up to your wonderful school history.
I can see why you'd have moments of tears, and moments of out loud joy.

Margie said...

Beautifully written!! I loved reading the memories and I really loved hearing about your rich learning opportunities. You defiantly took advantage while you were there and went running with it.

That was sad to have gone through the loss of your teacher too.

Thanks for sharing!!