Marathon County Wisconsin
Rib Mountain Schools
Source: Rib Mountaineer: the mountain and a township (1976) pages 34-35
The first known school in the township, built of logs and attended by Mrs. Ella Douville some 90 years ago, would not come anywhere near today's standards. But it had a teacher who taught readin', writin' and 'rithmetic. Perhaps the teacher even taught the English language to children who came from homes where German, Swedish or some other language was spoken.
The next school on record was built in 1890 on land donated by Julius Wittke and was named School District No. 3, Town of Weston. It was used as a school until 1900, when it was remodeled and used by the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation as a church. The church still exists.
In 1900 a new school was built on the Marathon-Weston line and was called School District No. 6. In 1905 the name was changed to Joint District No. 6 – Flieth Marathon. The name was changed to Woodlawn School, and the school was moved two miles west onto Emil Kolbe's property. Some of the children were still enrolled there.
One of them, Mrs. Robert Ames, says it had the earmarks of most schools of the time -- outside pumps and toilets; a long recitation bench in front of teacher's desk; a hall where the children hung their coats, and a wood heater in back of the room. All the children walked to school unless they were lucky enough to have a parent or neighbor hauling milk past the school. Mrs. Ames' son Robert taught in the school in 1963-64, the last year of its existence. It was converted into a home.
A brick school house was built in 1905 near Mosinee Hill and was named after the hill. Two of the pupils who attended were Mrs. Cornelia Davis Spatz and George Erickson. Mrs. Spatz said the "drinking fountain" was a pail of water and a dipper that everyone used. The school was discontinued in 1955 and also converted into a home. Edwin Ahles is the present owner.
Two other schools were built in what was then the Town of Flieth -- Mountainside and Roosevelt. The former was located on the east side of N. Mountain Road until it was demolished by a tornado in July 1935.
The following year classes were conducted in the old fire station on the site of the present Radant Insurance Agency, 2703 Rib Mountain Drive, until another school could be built.
The new Mountainside School, on the corner of N. Mountain Road and Partridge Avenue, sometime between 1950 and 1955 had a petition out to join Wausau Joint District No. 1. During the hearing William E. Moore, county superintendent of schools, noted the tremendous shift in population to cities and areas immediately adjacent to cities. This resulted in Mountainside School having an enrollment of twice its capacity of 30 pupils. The petition was not granted, and in 1955 the school was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists who used it for a parochial school for about 10 years. Later it was converted into a home.
The Roosevelt School was on Flieth Street, and was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. A picture of the President hung on one of the walls. One of its teachers was Mrs. Emma Schultz, who walked three miles from her home on Prospect Avenue to the school to teach. "For $26 a month I started a fire in the morning in the wood-burning furnace; swept the floor; and when it was time to start classes I rang the bell in the belfry," she said.
Mrs. Schultz also taught for a time at the Mosinee Hill School and remembers having 69 pupils. She taught in a number of other Marathon County schools for a total of 52 years -- longer than any other teacher in the county, and never missed a day of teaching. Mrs. Schultz is the former Emma Von Kanel.
Roosevelt School continued to operate as a public school until 1941, when it closed and the pupils were enrolled in two schools in the city. The two schools were Irving and G.D. Jones. In 1942 the building was purchased by Our Savior's Lutheran Church.
The urgent need for a consolidated school prompted Mr. and Mrs. Harold Fosbender to go out and get signers for a petition to build such a school. They obtained a majority in proportion to the population, and in 1955 the first unit of the Rib Mountain School at 2701 Robin Lane was erected. This unit consisted of six classrooms which replaced the two remaining rural schools, Mosinee Hill and Mountainside. Because of the rapidly growing population in the township and the increasing number of children, it was one of the first reorganized schools in the county. At this time the Town of Rib Mountain became School District No. 8.
County-wide the rural schools were being closed also. Miss Irene Kronenwetter was supervisor of the rural schools from 1934 until the last school closed in 1965.
Additions to the Rib Mountain School were built as the need arose. In 1957 two classooms were added; in 1959 four more classrooms, and in 1961 two kindergarten rooms, a gymnasium, kitchen, locker rooms and auxiliary rooms. The 1976 picture shows the addition of two mobile units, one for reading and one for industrial arts. The first 2 relocatable classrooms were used for the sixth grade students in 1968-69. The following 2 more rooms were added and since then housed the first graders.
On July 1, 1962, state law decreed that all school districts had to be in a district which operated a high school. So District No. 8 of the Town of Rib Mountain was abolished and made a part of the Wausau School District. Since consolidation in 1962 the total enrollment in the Rib Mountain School has been rising each year. Enrollment grew from 381 in 1961-62 to 573 in 1968-69.
Meanwhile the upper grades were being taken to other schools. In 1962-63 Rib Mountain School had from Kindergarten through sixth, and in 1970-71 it dropped another grade. The 1975-76 enrollment from kindergarten through fifth grade is 503. Grades six through eight are bused to John Muir Middle School.
Staff members at Rib Mountain School in 1975-76 include Charles Slock, principal; 19 teachers; one secretary; three aides; three custodians, and four employees on the hot lunch program.
Two parochial schools are also operated in the area. Our Savior's Lutheran School has four classrooms and one classroom for youth. There are four teachers on the staff with Norman Dux as acting principal.
In 1972 when the new Seventh Day Adventist Church at 2201 Oriole Lane was completed, grades one through eight were conducted in one of the rooms off the sanctuary. Present enrollment is 17 pupils and the teacher is Jerry Pierce.
LeRoy Jonas Jr., town chairman, says he is a strong believer in neighborhood schools for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. "I believe the School Board and the public should have the right to determine the curriculum and set the policies," he said. "Duties should be carried out by the staff."
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