On Wednesday, several students of the former L’Dora School held a reunion at the small wooden structure, now located on the grounds of the Santa Fe Trail Center west of Larned. They reflected on their experiences attending the one-room schoolhouse.
Named after L’Dora DuMont, who came to the United States on a ship from Wales and the wife of E.E Frizell, the L’Dora School District 55, a one-room schoolhouse, was built in 1904 in the small Pawnee County community of Frizzell.
Although the students experienced physical discomforts, going to school in a room heated only by a coal or wood burning potbellied stove, they thrived in a community where a quality education was a high priority for their youngsters, the students shared.
The students, who attended this reunion, remembered the three major events during the school year: a Halloween party, a Christmas play, and a last day of school graduation party. They also related that they started each day by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer and that each student’s parents were responsible for bringing a hot meal to all of the students every day of the week, except Thursday, during the winter months.
Lucinda Reat was a beloved teacher who began teaching at L’Dora as a single girl in 1917 and then again in 1926 as a substitute after she had married. They said this compassionate and amazing teacher, who rode a horse to school each day, continued as a full-time teacher at L’Dora for 35 years and touched the lives of many, many young people.
Her students recalled that not only was she a great teacher, teaching all subjects including art and music, but several times she and her husband also took in students when their parents were going through hard times, especially during the polio outbreak. She taught at times 30 students in all grades in the one-room schoolhouse.
L’Dora school was in operation until the 1960s. In October 1965, USD 495 was created to include L’Dora, Larned, Garfield, Zook, Brown, Pawnee Rock, and part of Sanford. In March 1966, L’Dora voted 15-2 to close at the end of the semester. The building was moved to the Santa Fe Trail Center grounds in 1975.
(Information for this article was collected from the Santa Fe Trail Center Museum and personal recollections.)