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Provo School, Igloo, SD history in The Walrus

The Walrus

The Walrus

Vol. 1 No. 18 page x May 9, 1952


by Miss Adelaide Ward and Miss Christina Hajek

School at Provo presented a problem as Fall approached in 1942. The children of constuction workers and army personnel needed a school. Most of the workers were housed in trailers and shacks at the village of Provo. Previous to establishment of Black Hills Ordnance Depot, enrollment at the Provo school had numbered between 10 and 15. Now there were hundreds of children needing school facilities. To care for the increase an additional room was moved in to combine with the one-room building already at Provo.

Miss Ward was hired in September 1942 to act as Coordinating Supervisor to directly oversee the grade school at Provo and the transportation of many grade children to Edgemont. The Edgemont school began a two-session program with two sets of teachers, the children of Ordnance workers attending in the afternoons from 1:00 to 6:00. Miss Hajek taught in the Edgemont school, commuting from Provo to supervise the school busses. At one time more than 100 children were being transported to Edgemont at a cost of one thousand dollars every 20 days. These were in addition to the pupils who were being cared for a Provo and the children of Ordnance workers living in Edgemont.

Difficulties arising over busses and a decrease in the number of children to be taught made advisable a change in plan and in December of 1942 the Provo school went on a double shift, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades under Miss Hajek and Miss Ward attending from 8:00 to 1:00. The other grades under Ada Lorenz and Lucille Anderson met from 1:00 to 6:00. Since both sessions used the same desks orange crates were set up to serve as make-shift lockers.

The Terteling houses were completed by this time and a government bus brought the children to Provo for both sessions. A renewal of construction in the Spring of 1943 necessitated transporting overflow to Edgemont again. The transportation from this time on was provided by Ordnance at the direction of Major Curtis, Commanding Officer.

The fact that Depot land had been ceded to the United States Government and therefore no longer lay in the state of South Dakota made the Provo School Board loath to assume the burden of the school problem outside of their own district. They finally agreed to assume such responsibility when it proved impossible for Colonel Keith, then Commanding Officer, to obtain Lanham Act funds in any other way.

In the fall of 1943 housing of the school presented a real problem. It was decided to house the high school in the building completed that summer (the present brown wing). The grades were located in three CCC barracks east of the school house; in two offices on the hill-top now occupied by Storage Division and Stock Control Branch; the Child Care Building; and two grades were transported to Provo's two-room building. In 1944 the present building was completed and for the first time, all grades and high school were housed in one building.

Housing was not the only problem in those early days. A school brought together hastily met many problems - twenty one teachers, all strangers to each other and to their pupils; more than 400 grade children from almost as many schools and communities - some from country schools, others from large systems; more than 80 high school students from dozens of school to be fitted into a curriculum such as could be handled by five teachers; the difficulties involved in acquireing texts, supplies, and equipment in the face of wartime shortages; a large pupil turnover and heavy teacher loads in primary housing; starting from scratch for the records of all pupils enrolled in high school and grades; no library nor labratory equipment; no tradition nor school spirit - instead a student body made up of individuals, all strangers to each other. One by one these problems were solved and Provo High School met the standards of accrediment of the State of South Dakota that first year and every year since.

One hundred seventy=three students, including the 25 graduates this year, have received diplomas from Provo High School. In addition to these, many times that number have taken part of their school work here and gone elsewhere and graduated.

Including kindergarten pupils a total of 5250 children have benifitted by the school facilities at Black Hills Ordnance Depot.

10 year students

Students and a faculty member who in May of this year will have completed ten full terms at the Provo School are,
from left to right, front row - Jo Ann Holt, Dorothy Stearns, Iva Belle Stearns and Miss Christina Hajek.
Back row - Roy Hanken, Sidney Hoar, Darrell Hoar and Fred Coates.

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