Report card from 120 years ago
“Remember” when you were a student in elementary and high school? For some of us, that’s a long, long time ago. The day most dreaded was report card time. Would our parents be pleased with our effort and achievement?
One of my teacher friends at the Northampton Middle School shared with me a report card from the Siegfrieds Grammar School — the year, 1896-97.
Siegfried was one of the three villages that would later, in 1909, be incorporated as the Borough of Northampton. Siegfried was basically located in the borough’s present first ward.
The report card shows the academic progress of young George Roth. It was issued more frequently than current report cards. The subjects emphasized repetition and good old-fashioned drill.
Note what was stressed in the 1896 elementary classroom. Orthography — the correct or standard spelling. There was no computer “spell check”! Penmanship — It is becoming a lost skill as our current communications are by email, texting and you name it. Believe it or not, my hundreds of columns have all been written “free hand” with a Faber No. 2 lead pencil, alas!
Other subjects: written arithmetic, history, language, geography, physiology (study of the function of body organs), deportment (conduct or behavior).
An average 70 to 80 percent was considered middling. The principal’s photo was on the report card.
Present-day elementary teachers work very hard; it’s a profession filled with stress. Society today is very different from the days when Mr. Roth was a student.
Federal and state mandates that require numerous testing of our students have taken valuable teaching time away from the classroom teacher. It is quite a contrast from my tenure as a classroom teacher at the senior high school.
My friend also shared a rare photograph of the 1945 nursing graduates from the historic Haff Hospital. One of the graduates was Eleanor Roth.
Dr. Charles Haff founded the hospital in 1918; it was located at 2006 Washington Ave. in Northampton. A new modern hospital was constructed in 1922 at 21st Street and Siegfried Avenue. The venerable institution included a school of nursing.
With the assistance of Mrs. Doris Daumer, a nursing graduate, we wrote a 10-part series on the hospital, which appeared in past Northampton, Whitehall-Coplay and Catasauqua Press newspapers a number of years ago. I hope the column brought back some memories.
See you in two weeks!