WANDA — Ever wonder what it was like to attend an old one or two-room schoolhouse?
A Neosho woman and her three sons had that opportunity recently. Aimee Briley, and her sons Austin, 10, Anthony, 7 and Mason, 3, visited the Wanda School and the Wanda Methodist Church.
"We go to church with (Lee House) and Roy (Lee's husband) at Northside Baptist Church," Aimee said. "And we had gone to Roy's 80 birthday party at the Wanda School (recently). Since there was a lot of people, Lee wanted to show the boys the school. She kind of brought it up one day at church and she said, 'how would your boys like to go out and see the school,' and I said, 'yeah, that sounds fun.'"
The family went to Wanda, located on Route O between Stark City and Stella, on Jan. 4.
According to the book, "From Buzzard Glory to Seed Tick: A History of Schools in Newton County, Missouri: Part 2" compiled by Larry James and Sybil Jobe, "the history of Wanda School and the Wanda Methodist Church are closely tied together. Land for the church and the school was deeded to the church by Wright Weems in 1855-1856. When the present day Wanda Church was built in 1893, the original church building was moved 300 feet south for a school building. This gave the community a two-room school. In the early days, a post office was opened in the community and it was called Wanda. The school then became known as the Wanda School. The Wanda School consolidated with Stella in 1951."
The children got to see a blackboard and a wood stove inside the church, as well as rather primitive facilities.
"Their most exciting thing was the bathroom because they were outside," Aimee said.
A few years ago, the church installed indoor bathrooms and air conditioning, along with a wheelchair ramp. The school doesn't have bathrooms inside.
A picture on the wall proved to be "creepy" to the children.
"Anthony was funny," Aimee said. "When you first walk in the door, there was a big room to the right, and a big room to the left. And in the room to the right, there was a picture of George Washington on the wall. Anthony was kind of seeing that his eyes were moving, as you would walk past."
"George Washington, he was creepy, because he was looking at me," Anthony added.
Austin said they didn't put their names on the blackboard because "we couldn't find any chalk."
"We played the piano," he said. "It was cool."
Other items inside the school included some older desks and a cabinet where old dishes were kept.
Aimee was then asked if there was something that peaked her interest of the school.
Page 2 of 2 - "Lee said that it was mainly the kids that used to live around there, because they walked (to school)," Aimee said. "They didn't have a bus, they walked there. When you are kind of out in the middle of nowhere, I cannot imagine how far they would have walked. Even on 'Little House on the Prairie,' they would show sometimes how far the trail was that they would walk. They didn't always have the horses to take them. Kids walked to school."
Aimee's children seemed to enjoy their field trip and she encourages others to do the same.
"I think that it is important for the kids to see what their grandparents lived like," she said. "I think that it is important not to forget about the past, where they didn't have TVs, because you go into schools now and they have TVs on the walls and stuff like that. You go into this school (Wanda), there is nothing. It wasn't all so technical and that is why I like taking them to places like that."
Along with the Wanda school and church, the family has visited Har-Ber Village in Grove, Okla.