Guest post by Eddie Higgins
DE SMET LEADER, 24 December 1882
Special Report: School Exhibition
The town of De Smet was treated to a wonderful display of educational achievement last night as the pupils of our school, led by their teacher, Mr V. Owen, gave an impressive exhibition of their studies to date. Such was the importance of the occasion that the county superintendent, Mr G.A. Williams, was seen head and shoulder above other members of the crowd.
Interest in the exhibition was so great, despite the inclement weather which threatened to take the curl from the bangs of the good ladies of the town, that at the last moment the venue was switched from the school house to the Church. Scholars were seated in the front seats.
Mrs G. Bradley, our well-known songbird, interviewed on her way to the Exhibition, commented to our special reporter that she was expecting “a real treat tonight” but denied reports that she would be performing herself afterwards, in expectation of which many townsfolk had brought additional handkerchiefs. Our reporter also attempted to speak to Miss Laura E. Ingalls (15), as she reshaped her hoops in the church entry. It had long been rumoured that Miss Ingalls had the principal part in the Exhibition, but in response to questioning about whether she was worried she might fail, the young lady gave only the cryptic reply that Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa in Italy.
Not a sound could be heard but for a mysterious unidentified squeaking as the senior class filed up to begin their demonstration classes in geography and grammar. Here, we are sadly obliged to report that Miss Nellie Oleson and Mr Arthur Johnson made mistakes. Questioned afterward, Miss Oleson flounced her full jabot of lace and defended herself staunchly, blaming the lack of blackboard facilities in the church. She suggested with some spirit that our reporter should just try parsing every word in a long, complex-compound sentence full of adverbial phrases without omitting a word nor so much as a comma, himself. Mr Johnson commented only that he wished he had worn different shoes.
The senior class then displayed their skills in mental arithmetic. Of particular interest was the news that three hundred and forty-seven thousand, two hundred and sixty-four divided by sixteen equals twenty-one thousand, seven hundred and four.
There then followed a selection of spoken pieces from the younger pupils, including Miss Carrie Ingalls, wearing a beautiful dress of bright plaid woolen, which we understand was made especially for the occasion, with innovative inward-facing buttons. Her hair looking particularly smooth and sleek, she recited without falter, nor missing a single word, Mr G.W. Doane’s inspiring poem ‘Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy’ to the warm appreciation of the audience.
Her elder sister, dressed in delightful blue cashmere with a pearl neck-pin, then gave an outstanding recital of the history of our great nation from its discovery through to the presidency of Mr. J. Q. Adams. Though clearly a little nervous at the outset, she spoke with steady voice to give a truly impressive display. The audience was briefly stunned into silence before launching into such sustained and rapturous applause as this reporter has not witnessed since the night of the legendary Minstrel Show last winter. Mr Owen eventually stopped the applause in order that Miss Ida B. Wright might complete the history recital to the present day. Miss Wright also did very well, and there was further loud applause.
The excitement in the Church was palpable at the Exhibition’s end. Mr G. Fuller, the well-known hardware storekeeper, was heard to call out, “I say, I knew there was talent enough for a School Exhibition, what?”
Mr Owen, who has won respect for his firm approach to discipline which has been sadly lacking in certain previous teachers, admitted that he had been nervous about the outcome. “I am pleased with all my pupils. I put my faith in Laura, although she did obtain only a grade of 99 for history last summer,” he stated.
Asked how excited she was by the performance of her daughters, Mrs C. Ingalls spoke quietly. “I am every bit as proud today as I was when my husband spelled down the entire town, and when not a bite of my pumpkin pie nor a spoonful of my baked beans was left at the New England Supper, but a grown-up must never let feelings be shown by voice or manner.”
Her husband, bearded Mr C. P. Ingalls, first settler, was more effusive in his remarks, saying,“ Laura’s not very big but by Jinks! She’s as clever as a little French horse! I was as sure she would lick anything she put her mind to as I am sure of a wonderful crop next year.”
Miss Ingalls herself, who left with a friend, was unavailable for comment but appeared relieved.
The De Smet Leader heartily commends the performance of all the pupils, and lends its firm support to the campaign for funds for to build a larger school building, a graded school even, based on the display we have seen tonight. We will be watching the career of Miss Ingalls, in particular, with interest, and predict that this is a young lady who will make her mark on the world in the future.
De Smet Snippets
We hear a certain horse-loving gentleman has been making a snazzier vehicle for his next daring trip in the snow. And a little bird tells us that his first passenger may well be a little gal who knows her Presidents. We can’t help feeling another young lady, who must remain nameless, but let’s just say she’s a friend of the family, will be fit to be tied!
Mr L. Brewster, in town for the School Exhibition, has confirmed that a two-month school will open in Brewster settlement next month. A teacher is urgently sought, $20 a month plus board. Ability and self-motivation more important than age and experience. Willingness to sleep on sofa essential.
Nearly new shoes, worn once only, one squeaks slightly. Expressions of interest to Mr A. Johnson.
Lost and Found
Lost: Small black-and-tan dog, much loved pet, last seen approaching blue-and-white cat on Main Street.
Found: Brand new, unused set of name cards found near the Schoolhouse. Whose are they?
Weather for the week ahead
Temperature: dropping from Cold to Tarnation Cold imminently. Chance of entirely unexpected blizzard: Always.