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By Susan Wiggins
Mayor Pro Tempore 

Rosamond schools, education in 1955

A Page of History

 


In 1955 the Southern Kern County Union School District proudly announced that it had completed additions to its school and would dedicate its new buildings April 30, 1955.

The additions included a new Kindergarten, four new classrooms, an administration building, cafetorium, and four new classrooms.

The district was still a K-8 district in 1955 and high school students, along with other East Kern Districts, climbed on buses and were taken to Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster. Some were also bused to Desert High School in Edwards.

The 7th and 8th grade students would still be located in their old building, but with the new construction there would not have to be any double sessions for students.

When I was in elementary school in Mojave and growth would occur, the school board and superintendent would begin to seek solutions, such as bond elections to pay for new classrooms and schools. Double sessions were always on the list because no one-students, parents, and staff - wanted double sessions. What an early marketing tool for elections to get bonds approved.

The Rosamond district board noted it was able to construct the additional classrooms and buildings with the help of the State Department of Education and the Federal Government.

Its building program began in 1949 with three additional classrooms. This was made possible by a $70,000 bond that was approved by the residents of the district. In 1951 enrollment increased to 251. This was due to families moving to Rosamond who were employed at Edwards AFB.

Because of the growth related to Edwards AFB, the federal government provided a $85,000 grant to help the district house the students of these families.

After “the earthquake” (the 1952 Tehachapi earthquake), the original building was declared unsafe and was demolished. New classrooms were constructed, along with a kindergarten and administration building.

The community, state, and an earlier bond election paid for those replacement buildings. Even so, the growth at Edwards AFB required more construction, so with more funds from the federal government, more classrooms were built.

The federal government understood that its neighboring bases impacted area schools and communities and approved legislation to provide an amount per student whose parent or parents were serving in the military or whose parents worked as civilians on the bases.

Mojave schools also received some of these funds when the Marine Base was located on what is now Mojave Air and Spaceport.

More construction was planned beyond 1955 as the district planned for construction on a new site in 1956 “to avoid any double sessions.”

Another voice from 1955 appeared in the Rosamond Sun in comments made from a third grade teacher, Mrs. Margaret Pilcher, which gave a personal look at education that year.

Mrs. Pilcher arrived in Rosamond in 1941, with her husband, who had died before the article was written. Along with the normal interview by the newspaper reporter, she was asked about what she thought of the educational system in 1955.

She explained that she believed in “modern trends,” but was a “bit old fashioned” when it came to the three “R’s,”

“Teaching isn’t an easy job, but exciting and interesting,” she said, adding that she had the students run a mock grocery store in the classroom, which helped them with reading, writing, “arithmetic,” English, spelling, manners, and health.

The third graders also made a book about Kern County as part of their social studies work, including making maps.

Teaching today is still not easy, but exciting and interesting, according to some of my friends who are teachers in 2017. Teaching trends have come and gone, replaced with new ones, including state testing, English as a Second Language, Special Education, and today STEM, to prepare students for careers in math and engineering.

Construction today includes input from the Office of the State Architect, Americans with Disabilities Act, office of Civil Rights, and other state and federal agencies. All of these agencies are good, but provide layers of bureaucracy that must be dealt with before a new school is completed.

We could not educate our children without teachers and other staff. We could not teach them without classrooms to house them.

I worked for a school district for 20 years writing grants and doing other special projects. I have ALWAYS said I could not be a teacher or aide or a bus driver. I do not have the patience or the skills. I salute those of you who do…

 
 

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