Johnsville alumni gather for banquet


Johnsville School’s 96th alumni banquet and meeting was held at the Der Dutchman restaurant on June 8, with 99 graduates and guests present.

After welcoming everyone, President Clint Walker introduced Frank Boner, who led the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of our national anthem. Vinton Morgan gave the invocation for our evening and the delicious meal which was enjoyed by all.

Special Recognition was then given by Paul Sipes of the teachers at Johnsville with Gail Smith, the only teacher present. He also recognized the oldest graduate present, Cecil Denton, who graduated in 1944. Those who traveled the farthest to attend were Donna Francis, from Sebring, Florida, and Annette Huvler from Washington.

The minutes of the 2023 meeting were read by Carolyn Williams, and no corrections were noted.

Don Linn gave a financial report for the year, stating the group ended the year with 8 cents more than it started.

Walker introduced the items of business for the evening. The first on the agenda was inviting those who attended Johnsville but graduated from Northmor or elsewhere. The group wants to be able to continue holding the banquets and will need some younger members to help do that. A sign-up sheet was passed around the room for people to sign up someone they thought may want to join our alumni group.

The second item was to discuss the time of the banquet. Walker asked for a show of hands of those who would rather have the banquet as a luncheon and only approximately five raised their hands, so the group will continue as it has in the past. The election of new officers for vice president and treasurer was the third item on his agenda. Janet Walker nominated Janet Cass Johnson for treasurer and Morgan for vice president. Frank Boner moved nominations be closed, a second was made, and then the slate of officers was accepted by acclamation.

The attendance of each class was led by Sipes, who recognized each class and how many of that class were able to attend.

The names of the 20 alumni deaths reported and recorded since our last meeting were read by Williams.

Our speaker for the evening was Dan Rhodebeck, discussing the history of the one-room schools in Morrow County. He attended Johnsville School through eighth grade and finished high school at Northmor. He talked about the “oldest” part of Johnsville School and the wooden floors and the stairs that made the sound of hoofbeats when everyone was coming up or down the stairs.

Rhodebeck is a charter member of the Morrow County Historical Society and invited everyone to visit the History Museum at 17 W. High in Mt. Gilead. They are open every Sunday from 1:30-4 p.m. with free admission. He brought pamphlets on the museum and memorabilia for people to enjoy after our meeting. He also has a great interest in genealogy and he and his wife, Janet, spend quite a bit of time helping families with their research.

He asked if anyone in the group had attended a one-room school, and several acknowledged they had. Jim Ewers stated he attended a short time in Williamsport. Rhodebeck displayed a book he brought called “The Silent Bell” which has an index of all the county one-room schools. The year 1940 saw the closing of all of the one-room schools. He stated that the teachers were the janitors, nurses, and disciplinarians, doing everything necessary for the school and the children.

Churches were used for many programs the schools held. In 1825, townships were allowed to levy money for the schools. The different one-room schools in our area were discussed, with Dayle Cass Lambert saying she lived in the former Miracle School on State Route 42 for 16 years. Rhodebeck stated that some teachers were not much older than some of their students. He closed by thanking the Alumni Association for inviting him to speak and invited everyone to peruse the items he brought with him.

The honored classes for this year were introduced by Walker. He began by recognizing those attending who didn’t finish school at Johnsville but had attended. They were the class of 1964 with Ralph and Patricia Jordan, the class of 1965 with Ray and Edna Sisk Keene, Arlyn Sleek Rush, and Maureen Harvey Osborn, the class of 1969 with Dan and Janet Rhodebeck, and Luann Armstrong Amore who attended six years at Johnsville.

The first honored class was the class of 1949 with three members present. Then, the honored class of 1954 with five members present, the class of 1959 with three members, and our special honored class of 1944 with one member, Cecil Denton, who received a round of applause. Walker asked all of the honored classes to meet with June Sipes for pictures at the end of the program.

The benediction was given by Don Linn, and classmates and friends visited the remainder of the evening.

Submitted by the Johnsville Alumni Association.

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