Back to School … WAY Back!

Because they supposedly didn’t do their homework, Costello Elementary 2nd-graders Jalen Jones and Katherine Heywood volunteered to wear dunce caps, like their forebears did back in the 1870s.
(photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

Sit up straight.

Fold your hands on the desk in front of you.

Maybe Costello Elementary second-graders weren’t prepared for the realities of school life Troy, circa the 1870s. But then again, maybe they were.

Some of the second graders came dressed like their Troy school’s predecessors. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

On their first day back to school after Spring Break, the students visited the Poppleton School on the Troy Historic Village grounds. Several of them even wore appropriate period outfits.

“Who rode to school on their horse today,” asked teacher Miss Post (aka historic interpreter Rosemary Kornacki).

“You all did, this is 1877,” she answered.

Costello students wrote the names of actual, historic students who attended Poppleton School 140 years ago.
(photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

“My favorite thing was writing on the chalkboards,” said Olivia Stepien.

“I liked doing arithmetic,” said Katherine Heywood. “And I also liked reading the story because it teaches honesty.”

“I liked writing on the chalkboards and we got to play with Jacob’s ladders here,” said Anand Sakthi.

Rosemary Kornacki goes over an 1870s lesson. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)
Costello students volunteered to be “punished,” including the pressing of one’s nose against the chalkboard. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

Along with the school house, the kids also visited an 1840s Settler’s cabin and learned how students before them had to help build their own houses and grow their own food.

Miss Post (aka historic interpreter Rosemary Kornacki) showed how girls had to curtsy and boys had to bow.
Historic interpreter David Moan tells the students about life in the wilds, at the corner of Livernois and Wattles.

Perhaps the most fun time they had, though, was learning about the punishments doled out by teachers back in the day: forcing boys to sit with girls, pressing their noses against the chalkboard, wearing a dunce cap, or the dreaded cane.

Troy students have come a long way — from writing answers on chalkboards to looking up answers on iPads. And thank goodness when they’re allowed to chew gum, it’s not tree sap and spearmint leaves.

Mya Van Horn answers a question in the Poppleton School. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)