The Simmons School’s Journey

Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam? Was it because there was a 54-ton school moving down the road? If you traveled through my hometown on September 19, 1989, this may have been the case. The focus of my project this week concentrates on this specific subject; which is personal to me for a couple of reasons, but we will get to that later.
In 1837, a piece of land was deeded to the county as a school section by John and Nancy Drake. The first structure built was a log school. It was later replaced by a brick structure in 1879, which was named the Simmons one room schoolhouse. It was used until 1907, when students of the township were sent to attend school in town. After closing, the building was used in a variety of ways. The family who owned the land lost their home due to a fire, so they lived in the school for a few months. Not only did it act as a home, but the site was also used for farm purposes. Tomatoes were prepared for market there, then later it served as a storage shed for tools and grain.

Plans were set to locate a schoolhouse that could be place behind the local school. This would act as a reminder to visitors about just how far our educational system had advanced. While investigating existing one room schools, historians came across the Simmons School. The windows were broken, chalkboards were gone, plaster and woodwork was deteriorating, the floor was caved in, and the bell was missing from the bell tower. The owners of the land donated the one room schoolhouse to the local educational system. The donors were Kenny and Julia Bense, who are my grandparents. Afterwards $40,000 was raised through local donations for restoration costs. In 1989, community members arrived to watch the 136 year old schoolhouse make its five-mile journey through town. Governor Evan Bayh proclaimed it “Move the Simmons School Day,” throughout the state of Indiana.

The Simmons family donated the original bell to the schoolhouse, where it currently welcomes visitors who explore the field trip location. Students arrive in old-fashioned costumes appropriate for a century ago. Every activity throughout the day is how a student would have experienced a day at school in 1907. For example, they carry baskets and pails filled with lunches, use the old-time readers, role play, bow or curtsy, cipher on slates, and play old-fashioned games. As a member of Little Hoosiers I had the privilege of not only visiting the schoolhouse for field trips, but I also participated in plays that took place inside. One of the events I took part in was the annual Christmas play.

What makes these photos superior? First, they were both photographed from the ground, using the worm’s eye view makes objects appear magnificent in size. Second, the contrast in bricks and snow creates a popping effect. My favorite of the two is the one that includes the fence. This is due to the blur effect that’s present on the gate. The posts closer to the camera lens are blurry, concentrating the focus on part of the fence and the building. This creates a “z” shaped pathway of attention.

My advice for this week is to try using the blur effect with your camera lens. You can achieve this by focusing on an object, while your lens are almost touching a separate object. Depending on where your center of focus is, the closer object will either be blurry or clear. In this instance, I chose to have the blur present up close, so my focus was on the schoolhouse. There are times when this effect can achieve the feeling of distance.

As always thank you for visiting my blog. Happy Holidays!

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