September 2016 Online Exhibit, The Ocracoke School
Supposedly the first school held on Ocracoke was called Captain Wilson’s School; it was located on the northern end of the island for the benefit of children of the men serving at the Hatteras Inlet Life-Saving Service Staton. Also in the late 1800s, though no dates are recorded, there were two public schools in Ocracoke Village. According to the local folklore, there was a rivalry between the people who lived on the south side of the lake and those who lived on the north side two schools existed- one on the point and one at the Creek. Also there were private schools held in homes. During the Civil War, two schools on Ocracoke were destroyed by Union soldiers who passed through the village after attacking Fort Ocracoke on Beacon Island. Public school was held in the Odd Fellows Lodge from 1901-1917. The 1917 school building was used until the present day school was completed in 1971.
Photo of the 1901 school pictured at left courtesy of Elizabeth Howard.
The Ocracoke School transitions in 1917 to 1971.
In 1917 a new school building was built, a modest one story frame structure divided into 6 rooms, including the library. Oddly enough there were no hallways and each room had it’s own entrance to the outside. Back then, they would have more than one grade in each room serving under one teacher. The younger children would learn from the older ones, and it helped the older ones retain their knowledge by assisting the younger ones. There was no cafeteria since everyone went home for lunch. The most distant pupil lived within a 15 minute walk of the building. Class size normally ranged from three to eight students per class. The first high school graduating class was in 1931; the school colors were purple and gold. prior to 1930, students wanting to further their education had to attend boarding schools on the mainland. The twelfth grade was added in the 1940s.
The school continued until 1971; it was then torn down to make way for the present day school building. The destruction of the 1917 school building was a sad day for Ocracoke. Though affordable education is first and foremost, the present day is one of total character and island architecture. Although it was impractical to modernize the school, many natives lament over the fact that the old building was not restorable and that the new structure is not keeping with traditional Ocracoke architecture.
In this photo to the left you can see the transition in 1971, the old building on the right being torn down an the new building going up on the left. In 1977 a gymnasium, additional classrooms, and a shop were added. More rooms were added in 2006 and a new gym and lunch room was completed in 2011.
The Rondthalers (Theodore & Alice) became a large part of the school in 1948 when they became year round residents on the island and began teaching at the school. They integrated themselves into civic and community affairs as well as taking charge of the school. During their time teaching, there were three other teachers, approximately 90 students per year and 12 grades. High school was traditional, consisting of four years of English, two of algebra, one of geometry. Health and physical education were emphasized and virtually everyone participated in an extracurricular activity. Playing basketball was a problem since there was no gymnasium at the time, and the ball did not bounce well on sand.
below are some pictures from the past and present of the Ocracoke School.
|Kathleen Bragg (school nurse)||Class from the 1950s||Riding bikes from school 1950s||School classes from early 1990s|
|School with snow||Building the gymnasium 1977||School as it looks today|
Previous Exhibits Below-