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"The Last Day of School"

by Marlys Mankell Schilz
Written before her death in 2001, Marlys reflects on District 25 during the spring of 1963.
This essay is probably her last.

It was the last day of school, not just the end of the school year but the end of the school. It was called consolidation. The following school year, our small, country district was joining with the town school. My mother didn't like this progressive plan. She was proud of our small school and its products. She knew it was the end of an era.

Former District 25 School
Corner of County Highway 5 and County Highway 29, 1912-2012.

Recently, I read about a "new" learning method where there was a mix of older and younger kids in the same class at different levels. The kids met in small groups with the older ones helping the younger kids. It did not sound new to me.

I've been thinking about that final day. I walked home alone. At least I thought I was alone. Every few feet I would turn around and walk backwards, my lunchbox bouncing on my knees. I looked at the school as if taking a final picture. I was glad to be leaving or so I thought. Finally, one time I looked and in one fragile moment, it was gone. In just one step I went from reality to the unknown. My mind was playing a movie of bits and pieces of all the years. I remember the time that an angry first-grader took off walking home cross-country. My brother in eighth grade was sent to retrieve him. I can still see my friend running across the ball field, her index finger shaped like a letter L pointed in the wrong direction. Then there were days of hot lunch where our teacher would bring a roaster. We each had brought a potato with our initials carved on the skin, along with butter and salt. I have never tasted a potato that good. Also, I recall the excitement of Christmas programs on the make-shift stage.

What do potatoes, softballs, and Christmas programs have in common? "These are the things that bounded me" said Edna St. Vincent Millay. I have been bound by this earth too. I have made a proverbial "leap of Faith" over assets, academics, accounts, affections, accomplishments and acquisitions. I landed on a belief system and statement of faith. I am told that I'm going home. I don't know about this unknown home. It is a "house of many mansions" which sounds more like an architectural nightmare than a home.

"It is appointed unto man to die." We all must go through the doors of death to get to the heavenly place. Like a new school. Some day soon it will be my last day of school. I have to cross this threshhold to go to a new school. What will it be like? Will I look back? The mystery will be solved. I believe God's promises. God is not a mystery. God is love. GOD IS.

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District 25 and Lake Andrew Townhall

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Last updated: October 18, 2014