Much progress in Chelsea school facilities

Published 4:55 pm Monday, September 30, 2013

Chelsea’s first school building, located on Shelby County 39. Picture taken in 1940s. (contributed)

Chelsea’s first school building, located on Shelby County 39. Picture taken in 1940s. (contributed)

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

It was 100 years ago this year that construction began on the first school building on Shelby County 39 in Chelsea, according to recollections of the now-deceased Dovie Chesser while I was compiling local history stories for the Shelby County Reporter around 30 years ago.

Retired schoolteacher Theron Holcombe also contributed information for those stories and my husband Ken, who began first grade there in 1940, and our son, Tony, who began in 1962, recently added to them.

In 1940, first and second grades were in a small building by themselves. A larger building housed fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth grades and a cloakroom. Third grade met in an old building nearby while sixth grade met at Liberty Church. Seventh grade room, also the library, was at the far end, where a “basement” was later built and shared the area with third and sixth grades.

The first school lunchroom in the county began at Chelsea on an experimental basis in the early 1940s in an old military barracks that was moved in. Behind it was a little ball field, then the boy’s outhouse, then a big baseball field.

Olene Kenney shared a photograph of the first, old white building and one of a woman’s softball team playing on the field. She recalled playing on the field herself.

Classes met in rough-partitioned rooms in the gym basement while the elementary building was demolished to make room for a new building.

“And I think they demolished the old middle school building to make way for the northern-half of the (still newer) building.”

Chelsea began grades nine-12 in the early 1960s.

Now Dr. Resia Brook, principal of the new school, told me, “We are looking forward to transition to the (next) new building.”

Congratulations, Chelsea School System. May your next 100 years bring as much progress as the last.