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Memorial will mark remembrance of school

February 20, 2013
By ESTHER MCCOY - For The Times Leader , Times Leader

MOUNT PLEASANT -Schools were once the hub of all small communities. They were areas where young people gathered to learn how to read, write and study history. They also were a place where parents came to see plays, concerts, basketball games and to check up on the progress of children.

But memories of the former Mount Pleasant school lingers in the minds of those who attended.

Their school, converted to Buckeye West High School after becoming part of the Buckeye Local School District in 1972, was closed 1988 due to a fire. The students then were sent to Buckeye South High School, and the Mount Pleasant school was torn down in 2009.

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Mount Pleasant High School, a high school for the village from 1873 until 1972, became an elementary and middle school and then in 1988 was Buckeye West High School until a fire of 1988.

"Any community that loses a school loses a lot, as it is always the focal point of all activities. In a small school, everyone knows everyone else. It is so close knit," said Jay Herrlein, Mount Pleasant High School Alumni Association president.

The decision to demolish the building came about after it sat empty for 20 years and the alumni group could not afford to restore it.

The group sends out almost 1,000 letters to members each year, which brings approximately 225 people to the annual banquets.

As president, Herrlein said he the loss when the school was demolished.

"There was nothing I could do to bring back the school after it was gone but we could build a memorial in its memory," Herrlein said.

When the school was torn down, the mayor was asked to save some bricks from the building and the contractor set aside a pile for the alumni. Unfortunately, by the time the alumni got to them, the pile was half gone. The alumni would need between 1,000 to 1,500 to build a monument and less than 600 bricks remained, it was noted.

Alumni members decided to hold a "Buy a Brick Fundraiser," with the engraved bricks placed in front of the memorial. The bricks sold for $50 each with three lines of engraving allowed and 18 characters per line.

"The alumni association has received $1,700 for the fund to date and needs at least $5,000 to $6,000 to carry out the plans," Herrlein said. The brick campaign is ongoing, and anyone wishing to purchase a brick or make a donation can contact the MPHSAA, P.O. Box 421, Mount Pleasant, OH 43939.

Herrlein had Ray Sanders, an engineer, draw up the plans for the memorial that will be situated on the site of the school, with the property owned by the village.

A salvaged stone marker will be part of the memorial and placed above the granite etching of the school.

"Right now we are waiting on getting a right-of-way from the village before we proceed. They have a small problem. The steps that were part of auditorium are still there and there are some asbestos problems," Herrlein said.

In 1867, the Mount Pleasant Union School was built. It was a two-story brick building that cost $11,000 to build. Classes offered there were philosophy, chemistry, high math, algebra and Latin.

Just like the school that came later, the school burned and was rebuilt in 1917. An annex was built in 1931, with more additions added in 1947 and 1958.

The school was the center of activities and the pride of the village until 1972, when the last graduation of Mount Pleasant High School took place.

Then seven village schools consolidated to become Buckeye Local - Adena, Brilliant, Dillonvale, Mount Pleasant, Smithfield, Tiltonsville and Yorkville. The district was divided into three sections - Buckeye West, taking in Adena and Mount Pleasant; Buckeye North, Smithfield and Brilliant; and Buckeye South, comprised of Dillonvale, Tiltonsville and Yorkville.

When the high school was moved to Adena, Mount Pleasant School then became the kindergarten through junior high school until 1982. Then the high school was moved back to Mount Pleasant until the fire.

In pages deposited in a time capsule at the school and opened in 1999, it was noted the first annex to the school building did not go well. E.D. Burriss, president of the board of education, prepared legislation for a $46,000 bond issue to the people regarding the addition to the school. The Nov. 4, 1930, election, showed there were 486 votes for the bond issue and 423 against it.

Bonds were sold to the State Teachers Retirement System and advertising for the bids was authorized on Dec. 1, 1930, and opened on Jan. 15, 1931.

A letter was received from the Department of Education saying it would give $9,000, provided the school would consolidate the Mount Pleasant Township and the Mount Pleasant Village School districts.

The consolidation was approved at the county board of education and the new district was named Mount Pleasant Township Consolidated School District.

On March 27, 1931, the state department of education gave approval of the awarding of contracts and at a special meeting of the board of education, the group was authorized to sign the contracts.

The school annex marker was laid on May 20, 1931.

In facts from the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant comes information about the beginning of the Mount Pleasant School system in 1809.

Many teachers then labored in the one-room, brick structure school.

Then in 1817, Lydia Stanton of Steubenville came bringing globes, atlases and many improvements never before seen in the school. The school year was divided into two sessions of 24 weeks each.

In 1832, plans were made at the yearly meeting to provide a boarding school. Funds came from near and far, from New England to England.

Land was purchased at $42 per acre, and at the cost of $10,000 the Mount Pleasant Boarding School was opened, with a wing on each side for the school. The cost for each pupil was $68 per year. Cooking was done in Dutch ovens, with pots hung over the fireplace.

William Reid became a board member in 1837 and served for 43 years.

His associate on the board and a congressman for the district was Dr. Johnathan Updegraff.

In 1842, George K. Jenkins opened his home for a private school, working with A.G. Kinsey in its planning. They had primary, intermediate and senior classes. This was the first normal school of its kind, with boys and girls studying together.

In 1846, Jenkins erected a new school on the corner of his front yard. The graded system was an improvement and a new growth in education. Studies for the older pupils were more advanced and it was proclaimed to be the loveliest spot on the hillside.

In 1867, a new school was built, so on the spot of the most recent high school, a two-story brick building was built. It had four school rooms and was called Mount Pleasant Union School. Teachers familiar to many were Mattie Bennett, Althisa McGrew and Mattie Milner.

In 1873, the first graduation was held at the high school when three students were given their sheepskin: Jennie McMasters, William Wagner and Lafie C. Reid. They were the first to graduate from Mount Pleasant. Up until 1880, there were 45 graduates.

It is noted that in 1906 Mount Pleasant became a "first-grade" high school. At that time, Steubenville and Toronto were the only other high schools with that rating in the county. Mingo Junction had a second-grade rated school and the remaining schools in the county were of third-grade rating.

Students came from nearby towns to attend the Mount Pleasant to finish high school. The school charter is one of the village's most valuable possessions, it was noted.

Education never stopped, students were continually learning and for many the newspaper was their source of higher learning. The first newspaper printed in Mount Pleasant was the "Philanthropist" in 1817. It was a weekly paper printed by Charles Osborne.

In 1821, Benjamin Lundy published the famous paper, "Genius of Universal Emancipation." He wrote the paper in Mount Pleasant but had to walk to Steubenville to have it printed.

In 1835, another paper, The Village Banner, was printed but nothing much is known of its owner.

In 1822, a magazine was printed for children, "Juvenile Museum." It was a semi-monthly publication and the village press turned out a number of books.



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