2013-03-14 / Top News

Students learn school’s history

By Verda Seeklander


Retired teacher Lila Jane Werner presents a history of the Hazelton School to Mrs. Dykema’s Technology class. The student in the front, left, is her sister, Beatrice Heer, also a retired teacher. Retired teacher Lila Jane Werner presents a history of the Hazelton School to Mrs. Dykema’s Technology class. The student in the front, left, is her sister, Beatrice Heer, also a retired teacher. “There’s a lot of history in this town!” was the response from Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock student Lindsey Aman when asked what she had learned during a recent presentation in Mrs. Darcy Dykema’s freshman/sophomore technology class.

Mrs. Dykema introduced Lila Jane Werner and her sister, Beatrice Heer (both retired teachers), pointing out that they were exceptional because of their birthdays. An older brother (deceased), Beatrice, and later, Lila Jane, were all born on the same day of the month. All attended Hazelton School, once identified as Williamsport Special No. 6, and graduated from Hazelton High School.

Beatrice and Lila Jane taught country schools. Later, Lila Jane spent many years teaching on military bases in foreign countries and had the opportunity to visit many foreign countries. She was stationed in Libya in 1969 during the coup when Muammar Gaddafi took over the country. Her last teaching post was on a New Mexico Indian Reservation. Werner is now the president of the Hazelton Historical Society.


Pictured on the screen behind Lila Jane Werner is the 1904 Hazelton School after the addition in 1910. Pictured on the screen behind Lila Jane Werner is the 1904 Hazelton School after the addition in 1910. And it was a history lesson. Werner’s presentation dealt mainly with the origin of the Hazelton School (the first school opened in 1884 in Williamsport prior to the establishment of Hazelton) and how changes in the communities of Hazelton, Moffit and Braddock led to consolidation.

The first school in Hazelton was located just north and to the west of the present townsite. Twenty-one students attended the one-room school. In 1904 a new wooden school was erected on the north edge of the site of the old brick high school. In 1910 an addition enabled the building to become a two-year high school and, later on, a fouryear high school. In 1923, the brick schoolhouse was built at a cost of $57,000, and the wooden school was purchased and moved a block and a half south to Main Street with one horse and a round turnstyle cable winch mover. As the horse walked around the turntable, the cable wrapped around, pulling the building forward. It took more than a week to move it.

Moffit High School closed in 1945 and students went to other area schools. In 1959, the school officially became Hazelton-Moffit School District No. 6.

A new elementary school was built in 1963. Moffit elementary students were bused to Hazelton after Moffit Elementary closed in 1972.

With the closing of the Braddock School in 1994, a majority of those students came to Hazelton and the school was renamed Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock School District No. 6. Later, school district patrons voted to build a new high school which was completed in 1998.

Students also got a glimpse of rural schools and how they differed from “town” school.

In the discussion following the presentation, students were asked how they compared H-M-B to neighboring schools. H-M-B offers six classes of ITV each day, and the technology department is well supplied. iPads for science and math “would be nice,” but Mrs. Dykema said she was happy with what was available to the students. One thing mentioned by the students was the desire to have a woodshop class to which Werner responded, “And how many of you have gotten together to go to the parents, the principal and to the school board to request it?”

One of the students seemed to speak for the rest of the class when she commented, “This is a really good school because everyone supports each other, and everyone is friendly.”

A bit of advice for the students from Werner:

“There are five components when it comes to school and your learning. One is the parent; one is the student; one is the teacher, one is administration (superintendent and principal) and one is the school board. That makes up 100 percent of your education. Now, lets say, if you as a student don’t care, and you don’t put anything into it, you’re already down to 80 percent of your education. If your school board isn’t working for you to make sure you have everything you need to get a successful education in this school, you’re down to 60 percent. You see what happens if everybody doesn’t do their job.”

She added, “If you as a student don’t put everything forward, then you lose out. Then you’re down to 40 percent. Everybody has to do their job. That means 100 percent from everybody.”

Interviewed later by student reporter Sierra Rath, 13 of the students were asked what their choice would be if they could go back in time and choose a country or city school. Ten said they would like to go to a country school.

Shantel Bender thought it would be better to go to a country school in order to learn how to work together and also to learn from the older students.

Lee Vetsch said he would attend a city school, however, because he wanted to have running water.

The entire class remarked that Lila Jane was an excellent speaker and were impressed that she knew almost all of them by name. They all enjoyed learning the history of Hazelton, and they said they hope she returns to teach again.

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