FHSU to celebrate 40 years with the Plymouth Schoolhouse


Fort Hays State University’s College of Education will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Plymouth Schoolhouse moving to FHSU’s campus during Homecoming festivities at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 on the first floor of Forsyth Library.

Originally constructed in Russell County, the hard, post-rock limestone schoolhouse was transported to FHSU’s campus in 1977 to undergo restoration. It was completed and dedicated in 1979.

“It took them two years to get the schoolhouse here. They moved it stone by stone,” said Dr. Elodie Jones, assistant professor of advanced education programs.

Members of Phi Delta Kappa as well as Bill Claflin, Dr. Allan Miller, and Dr. Nancy Vogel were instrumental in proposing and leading the restoration process.

The celebration is open to the public and will include speeches from both Miller and Vogel as well as the opportunity to explore the inside of the schoolhouse.

Inside the school house are three original desks and the original school bell. An original diploma that was received by a student when the schoolhouse was in Russell County also will be dedicated on Friday.

“There are tons of primary artifacts within the school, many of which have been donated,” said Jones. “My students were jazzed looking through the repository of books stored at the schoolhouse as well as some cool historical maps dating back to the early 1900s.”

Freshman and sophomore students from the Opportunity Through Education living and learning community helped clean and prepare the inside of the schoolhouse for the festivities.

During the year, the schoolhouse is used by faculty on campus and other educators in the area who take their students there to experience the roots of American public education.

The reception will be held inside the library with refreshments to follow in the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse will be open from 9 a.m. to noon for visitors to explore.

Following the schoolhouse celebration, attendees are invited to walk over to Forsyth Library’s South Study Area and visit the smart classroom exhibit featuring the Plymouth Schoolhouse as well as other archival materials on display.

Using a 3D model of the schoolhouse created at FHSU’s Institute for New Media Studies and digitized archival photos and documents from the library, the two units have collaborated to create a special exhibit about the schoolhouse in the portable smart classroom, a new grant-funded immersive space.

“The goal of the smart classroom project is to make immersive spaces affordable, portable, and low-cost,” said Claire Nickerson, learning initiatives and OER librarian at FHSU.

A separate exhibit containing artifacts from the University Archives will also be on display at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Memorial Union’s Pioneer Room.

Nickerson and Dr. Gordon Carlson, associate professor of communication studies who oversees the Institute for New Media Studies, were the primary investigators on this project after receiving funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

“I hope that attendees will come away with not only more knowledge and appreciation of the importance of one-room schoolhouses in Kansas history, but also more curiosity and enthusiasm about the smart classroom technology that makes the exhibit possible,” said Nickerson.

“Expectations of teachers really have not changed as much as we think,” said Jones. “They were seen as advocates for education on the prairie and teachers continue to be advocates today for their students.  

Those wishing to attend the celebration can park in the lot west of the Memorial Union. A shuttle will transport people from the Art and Design Ribbon Cutting to the Plymouth Schoolhouse.

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