Tower School - Part II
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook November 8, 2013
Caption 1: The first school in Tower in 1899.
Caption 2: Members of the school board of the new Tower School mid-1950s. From left, Tom Van Zant, Floyd Walters, Bill Pollard, George Stevens and Lawrence Sickler
The seventh and eighth grade pupils had to write a state exam each year in order to pass their grade. All children in those grades in the township had to come to the Tower School on the date of their exam. The material for the exams came sealed to the teacher conducting it from the county school commissionerís office. This material could not be opened until the day of the exam when they were all assembled to write the test. The results were mailed to the students after being graded in the county school office. That was a time of great suspense waiting for a letter to tell if you had passed.
Leaving the eighth grade meant going to the Onaway High School. For some, that meant walking the distance every day or for others, rooming and boarding with someone in Onaway.
Perhaps the two greatest improvements in the school came in 1925 when the Onaway Electrical Company wired the Tower School at a cost of $82.25. Later, in that same year, indoor toilets were ordered for all schools open at that time, Tower, Draper, Hyde and Mitchell schools. The cost was $806 to be paid out of the State Aid Fund. These of course were chemical toilets since there was no indoor plumbing.
Reading through treasurerís records for the year 1925, eight towels were purchased from H. Lipshield for $2; curtain scrim was purchased from Gumm Department Store for $1.44; Mahoney Brothers Hardware furnished stove pipe, coal scuttle, pump and padlock for $14.40; Standard Oil Co. was paid $5.45 for oil to oil floors at the beginning of each term. The dust from the dry wood floors would have been more welcome than the strong smell of oil that permeated the room the first few weeks.
When the country schools in the township closed in 1941, the children through the sixth grades came to the Tower School. Once again, an unused schoolroom was put back into use and the fourth room was used for preparing hot lunches and activities when the weather did not permit the children to be outside. The township hall was also converted into a classroom to take care of the extra children.
In 1946, a special election was held giving the school board authority to lay plans for a new school in Tower. Those on the school board at that time were Floyd Walters, President; Raymond Tucker, Treasurer; Sale Lyon, Secretary; Charles LaBelle, Trustee; and L. D. Johnson, Trustee.
The board approved letting Father Ryan of St. Paul Church teach his pupils one hour after school, one night a week. They also approved letting the Community club use the school for school and business activity.
By 1952, a new school had been built on Barclay Avenue and once in use the old frame building was torn down by Bill Pollard in exchange for labor on the new building.
The new building was operated by the Township Union Schools until 1966, when they became part of the Onaway Public School system.
--Onaway Outlook November 8, 2013 pg. 3. Retyped by B. J. Kemme.