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By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Students learn 1800s style

In one line, girls stood in period costumes — long gingham dresses augmented with aprons and bonnets. In the other, boys wore short pants, leather vests and hats.

“It’s not raining inside! Remove your hats,” Miss Sherman told the boys. She was played by Carolyn Stastny, using her maiden name because female teachers had to remain unmarried in the late 1800s.

She then turned to the girls. “Ladies, for some reason, whoever wrote the rules of etiquette made it so you may keep your hats on,” she said.

The students usually attend classes at Dayton Grade School. But on Wednesday, they were visiting the historic schoolroom as part of a field trip to the Yamhill County Historical Society’s complex.

Most fourth- and fifth-graders in the county visit the Heritage Center, thanks to volunteers who dress in period costume to give tours and act out 19th century life.

While other Dayton students looked at vintage tractors and other displays, small groups of fourth- and fifth-grades learned 1800s style.

“I have expectations and rules,” Miss Sherman told them, with much more formality than today’s teachers use.

But while they had to bow or curtsy, and sit with their hands folded, the students discovered most of the rules sounded familiar.

“The most important is the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the pioneer teacher said. “And be on your best behavior at all times!”

She also taught them what she called the “five-finger test,” a list of important principles they could remember by ticking them off on their fingers.

“One, generosity,” said Miss Sherman, folding down one finger. Students repeated, “generosity,” and folded their first finger down in response.

“Two, honesty. ALWAYS be honest,” she said. “Three, punctuality. Four, cleanliness and neatness. Keep your body, mind and spirit clean. And five, kindness.”

Those principles of 1800s living sound a lot like the ones Dayton students follow today: “One, I will treat myself and others with kindness and respect. Two, I will act safely and responsibly at all times. Three, I will cooperate with others in our school. Four, I will do my best and am a good example to others. Five, I will treat property with respect.”


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