There is an old saying "all good things must come to an end." That is exactly what happened to the one-room schools in Kansas when the children ran out the door for the last time. Emotions trailed after them as people in these communities mourned the loss of their tiny schools.
For decades, the one-room school was the center of community social life, as well as the building where children of the district were educated. Because of dwindling rural population, improved roads and transportation, communities became larger, and rural school district consolidation became common. School buildings-no longer needed- were abandoned and torn down.
Recent activities at the crossroads of State Center, Kansas, five miles north and one mile west of Claflin, was the erection of a Kansas limestone monument on the former site of the State Center school District #75, by former students on the NE 1/4 8-17-11, Independent Township, Barton County. The school was organized on Dec. 16, 1878, several years before the city of Claflin was established in 1887.
Early settlers began to homestead the State Center community from the railroads in the mid 1870s. The need for schools and churches were some of the first things they established at a meeting of the community on Dec. 16, 1878. State Center school District #75 was established, and the first school years were held in homes or other convenient locations until 1880, when the first one-room school house was built. One acre of land was donated by C.W. Radenberg with the land to revert back to the owner when the school district was discontinued.
Outgrowing this first one room school building, a second school house was built on the same site in 1914. The total school year budget for the operation of the school was $1,199.48 which included the teacher’s salary of $387 for the entire year. In the mid-1920s enrollment often exceeded 30 students under the supervision of one teacher who also served as the custodian of the building. Three generations of several of the families of Grossardt-Radenberg-Reemann-Disque-Wendtlant and others attended the school of District #75.
When unification and consolidation of the schools became a fact in the 1950s, State Center elected to retain their school by building a modern multi-room brick school in 1953 on an expanded three acre plot of land donated by W.R. Radenberg. At the same site, a water well was drilled, eliminating the task of students carrying buckets of drinking water from the neighbors well across the road for the school. Kitchen and dining facilities were also included for the school’s lunch program.
This new building remained in use as a school until 1963 when it was unified with the Hitschman School District #67 along with former New Hope District #88 and Kerr District #64. Independent Township then secured the last State Center school building in 1963 for use as a community center until 1971 when it was closed and then demolished. The three acre site reverted to the landowner, thus ending an era of the one-room country school that saw more than 230 students seeking an education through its doors.
Plans began to materialize during the summer to erect a memorial on the site of State Center school by some of the students of those golden years. A slab of limestone was acquired from the Vonda Stone quarry of Sylvan Grove. A former graduate of 1938, Charles Disque designed and carved the memorial with the stone posts donated by Dorothy Brinson. Other former students assisting in the construction were Roger Grossardt-Harvey and Walter Disque, Joey Girard and Doug Disque.