Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Gearing up for school by looking back

By Berneta Peeples

Associate Editor

  Continuing rewrite from “Then and Now” written by the Temple-Belton Retired Teachers Association as a 1976 Bicentennial project, plans were initiated to build a high school in 1904.

  Apparently the building was needed for students of the many private schools in operation in the City of Belton.

Both the Dr. L.H. Hubbard interview and George Tyler’s “History of Bell County” refer to the number of private schools in operation in the city.

This is an indication that the general population of the county seat of Bell County was fairly well educated, based on the fact that there were enough students for a high school building. Belton graduated its first senior class in 1885. That was when the high school was in one room on the first floor of the Masonic Lodge building.

Belton Public Schools were organized by vote – some called it an unpopular vote because a public school was questioned - in 1881.

By 1901, graduation required four years each for the following listed courses: English including grammar, composition, literature and rhetoric;

  Mathematics including arithmetic, algebra and chemistry;

History including U.S., ancient, medieval and modern history;

Science including physiology and hygiene, physical geography, physics, zoology or botany; Latin including beginning Latin, Caesar, Latin composition and Virgil.

The Hubbard interview said changes over the years included new math, new grammar, with emphasis in the addition of “modern” courses in all the above with the addition of Spanish and job training courses to keep the education schedule up to date. In 1976, there were 16 job-training courses offered including office work, shorthand, typing, bookkeeping, home economics classes, auto mechanics, metal trades and others.

  In 2013, those courses appear under more specific names.

  Most of those classes now have their own buildings or individual sections of a major complex, many under different names to meet for today’s space age.

Records show that the first school in Belton opened in 1850 when T.A. Supple and John Payne moved their little store from the Elm Grove Community to the new county seat of Belton.

They built a two room log cabin on Pearl St. at today’s intersection of W. 1st Ave. Supple operated a store in one side and Payne opened a school in the other side.