One of Lincoln’s most efficient institutions is her public school. There, perhaps, is no other city in the state which has so large a percent of her population in school attendance. Practically one third of the population of Lincoln are attending school. There are, in all, 553 enrolled, 527 in the grades and 126 in the high school. This is the largest in the history of the town.
Lincoln, indeed, is proud of her school – none but the most efficient teachers are selected to care and instruct her youth. There are in all 17 teachers, 5 in the high school and 12 in the grades. The work of both departments of the school is thorough and progressive.
The high school is generally recognized as the most efficient in this section of the state. This department is under the Barnes High School Act – giving all pupils of the county who have completed the common school, free tuition.
In addition to the general high school course there is the Normal Training course, having, this year, 18 members, the Domestic Science and Art course, with 20 taking the course, the Agricultural department with a class of 21.
The latest department added, is the Manual Training. The class has just been organized. The members are very enthusiastic over the work and indications bid fair to skillful and practical usefulness.
Another new feature of the high school is the organization of two societes for increasing public speaking and the art of expression. This is one phase so overlooked in many schools. The pupil is soon through with school life and passes out as a social being to assume his place as a citizen. And if he has failed to get a social and public training he is lacking that which he will find later that he needs most.
Those who have charge of the schools at this time are J.H. Davies, superintendent; E.F. Tinker, principal of the high school; and Glen Sheperd, principal of the north school.
Lincoln County Schools
The early settlers of Lincoln county did not overlook the matter of education; before the county was organized school was taught in the homes of some of the settlers – the first school in the county being in the Skinner home, south of where Beverly now stands and was taught by Mrs. Skinner, her two children and two from the home of one of the neighbors being the pupils. When the town of Abram was organized Mrs. J.J.Peate of Beverly taught school there; later when the county seat was moved to Lincoln, Mrs. Anna C. Wait taught the first school in the little building now occupied by E.P. Loso’s shoe shop. Here was the beginning of Lincoln county’s school system.
John Lyden was elected the first county superintendent at the first election in 1870, but served only a few months when he resigned. It remained for A.T. Biggs to organize most of the school districts of the county. Mr. Biggs filled the office for ten years and during his administration the schools were well established. He inaugurated the system of common school graduation and also held the first Normal Institute in the county.
As the population of the county increased and the prosperity of the people became greater, there became a demand for better schools. There are now four high schools in the county, each offering four year courses; the schools are well established in good buildings and are doing good work. The four towns of the county also have a good system of graded schools. While this progress has been made in the towns the rural districts have also made advancement. We have better buildings and equipment; the teaching force has improved, and every young person has the opportunity to secure a good common school education. There is a feeling, however, that the rural school has not kept pace with the other improvements in the community. While we have a few new modern buildings we need more of them; we also need better equipment and a more permanent teaching force; our teachers change too often to produce the best results. The average teacher has too many classes and too little time for each class. The boy or girl in the country district should have the advantages of a high school education the same as his cousin who lives in town. This he has not under our present system in most parts of the country.
Consolidation of schools will remedy this to a certain extent and the schools of this class are a success where they had been tried. Local conditions must be favorable or consolidation should not be attempted; there are about six places in Lincoln county where a school of this class would be a success. Consolidation has carried at Vesper and it will be given a trial there next year. Where people are opposed to consolidation and desire to continue their district schools, they may obtain high school advantages by the establishment of a township high school A few have been established in Kansas and good reports come from them. The matter of better schools for the rural communities is a great question and should receive the most careful consideration of every thoughtful person. Many of the brightest minds are found in the country schools; why not give them an opportunity to develop to their fullest capacity?
We would hardly afford to let this big issue of the Sentinel go to mail without the mention of A.T. Biggs who was so closely associated with the county’s schools. He served as county superintendent for ten years. Mr. Biggs died at his home at Healy, Kansas, Aug. 21 this [can’t read, possibly "year"].