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Woodland School spoke to changing times

by Carl Vest

During the 1945 – 1946 school year the Woodland School on South Hill published a newsletter named the Woodland Flash.  It was declared to be the Official School Gazette, with a purpose stated as follows:  “This [is] a School paper published monthly by the pupils of the 8th Grade in our school.  It is used to teach the use of English, the art of spelling and penmanship.  It also helps in the teaching of Arithmetic and business forms.  THE PAPER DOES NOT PERMIT THE PUPIL TO NEGLECT THEIR REGULAR STUDIES.” The newspaper was apparently supported by local businesses as a number of advertisements were scattered throughout.

The February 1946 issue consisted of 16 pages.  It was published in memograph form on 8-1/2 by 14 inch paper.  In it the staff wrote an editorial focusing on the lessons that should be learned from the lives of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose birthdays were being celebrated during the month.  The students noted that from George Washington “we should learn the lesson of being truthful and honest, and persevere in the right regardless of pending defeat.”  And from Lincoln “we should learn the lesson that no matter what our station is in life, perseverance, schooling, and decisiveness will overcome any obstacle in the way of our success.”

Since this was at the end of World War II a number of war items were presented.  On several pages readers was admonished to “Buy More Victory Bonds.”  This subject was considered so important that a chart was shown with a list of students “January Bond and Stamp Sales,” totaling $50.65.  One advertisement declared, “TIRE RATIONING IS OVER. See us for new tires.”  One article explained that butter was still rationed.

It was reported that during January, the Eighth Grade hosted a visitor to the school.  Captain James Repp, Jr., formerly of the US Army Air Corps, had lunch with the students and afterwards gave a talk about his travels during the war.  He was still in uniform but declined to discuss the meaning of the rows of ribbons he was wearing.  More willingly he described for the class the characteristics of the people he had seen during his tour of duty in the Southwest Pacific.  He focused on the lives of people in the Phillipine [sic] and other Pacific Islands.  The boys in the class seemed to be particularly impressed with the fact that the women in those cultures did most of the manual labor.  One boy was heard to say “Gee, I’m going to live down there.”

Woodland School at that time consisted of eight grades.   Each class entered a report in the newsletter.  They ranged, for example, from a description of the study of Eskimos by the first and fourth grades to the review of geography by the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The South Hill Historical Society would like to obtain additional issues of this newspaper.  We have only the February 1946 copy.  If any reader can direct us to additional sources we would appreciate a contact.

Carl Vest, PhD, is a founding member and Research Director for the South Hill Historical Society.