Rock of ages

Documentation shows county's first PTA might have been at Fountain Rock Elementary School

Documentation shows county's first PTA might have been at Fountain Rock Elementary School

October 02, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - She's not sure how they got there, or how long they've been there. But she is sure that everyone should get to see them.

"They're part of our history," said Lori Hare, PTA president at Fountain Rock Elementary School.

Hare and Vice President Annette Johnson recently discovered several books and photographs documenting the early days of what is believed to be county's first PTA. The documents state the first organization started at Fairplay School in April 1934.

Schools in Fairplay and Downsville merged into Fountain Rock Elementary School, and Fountain Rock's PTA is a descendent of the Fairplay organization, Hare said.

Their first order of business when the group formed in April 1934 was building a well.

In one of the books Hare and Johnson found in a storage closet at Fountain Rock, it shows Fairplay students crossing the street with a pail to bring water back to the school.


"They had to cross the highway twice every time they needed water," Hare said.

Today's PTA might not be building wells, but there were some similarities. In 1958, the PTA donated money to Fairplay School for playground equipment, according to the documents. Last year, the PTA donated money to Fountain Rock to buy additional playground equipment, Hare said.

She said there were other similarities, too, like fundraising, which always has been a major focus the school's PTA.

"While now we might sell pizza or cookie dough to raise money, they had dinners," Hare said.

A record of finances from the PTA shortly after it formed shows that the amount of money they worked with was much less than the budget Hare and other members have today.

In the 1950s, they had an annual budget of about $275, according to the documents. Johnson said the PTA this year is managing a $12,000 budget.

"Look at this. Cigars sold for $2," she said. "Radio repair, $1."

In 1948, there were 21 members of the PTA, and they began each meeting by singing the PTA anthem and with a moment of silent prayer. Hare said Fountain Rock's PTA now has about 150 members, and they do not have a moment of prayer before each meeting.

"No way," she said. "That wouldn't be allowed. And I'm not even sure I know the anthem."

Hare said she believes there might be more historical PTA records that were separated from the ones she and Johnson found.

The women are hoping to display the documents and photos at Fountain Rock, and have gotten permission from the school's principal, Archibald Van Norden, Hare said.

"For more than 50 years old, these are in great shape," she said. "And that's why they need to be displayed."

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