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Wonderful Willard!

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It is one of the oldest, and still active public schools in Illinois. The first brick school built on the Moline Bluffs. Willard School.

Willard opened in 1899. The school was built for less than thirty thousand dollars. It is named after Frances Willard, an American educator and activist who was instrumental in getting legislation passed which gave women the right to vote. She also was the first Dean of Women at Northwestern University.

Recently, former students, teachers and principals who have a special connection with the school held an informal get together. There were dozens of photos, report cards, books, and other items which chronicle the school history.

Steve Haines taught and also served as principal at Willard. He paged through the planning book he used as a teacher. He also recalls the school's famous attic on the second floor where pigeons ruled the roost. Steve' s father Robert was also a Willard student. His first year at the school was 1929 when the playground was split. There was one side for boys and another for girls.

Margaret Phares Lenart taught at Willard and remembers the old,wooden hallways. She was thrilled that her starting salary back in those days was five thousand dollars. Margaret's sister teaches at Willard and their mother attended classes at the school.  

In the early years, the school did not have water considered safe for drinking, so students dipped tin cups in buckets of pure water. Water fountains were installed in 1912. There were no fire escapes until 1916. No gym until the 1960's. A teacher's starting salary in 1900 ranged from three hundred thirty to four hundred thirty dollars a year.

Over the years, computers have replaced wooden desks and ink wells. Time marches on. The one constant remains the Willard Welcome. A Moline landmark still standing tall! 

 

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