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Page 44 text:
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W. Ellis surveyed, planned and started the grading for the athletic field. For the first time a post graduate course was offered.
I)r. James A. Beattie, who succeeded Dr. Norton, had been interested in educational work in the East, and at the time of his election to Peru, in 1896, was a teacher in Cotncr University, of Lincoln. The first Kindergarten and German Departments were organized by Dr. Beattie and the whole school system elevated to a higher basis, thus requiring an extra year before graduation. The summer school sessions which had been irregular and indefinite now became a regular part of the school program. In 1897 the dormitory burned and the same year in its place, the present Mt. Vernon Hall was erected. Dr. Beattie’s presidency was known as the period of student growth. The total attendance, including the training school pupils, was 1,011. surpassing the attendance of all former years.
Dr. W. A. Clark, who was formerly professor in the school for three years, took work at Harvard and Chicago and returned to Peru in 1900, to act as her next leader. Dr. Clark introduced the observation and methods class in the Junior year, as a preparatory step for teachers training in the Senior year. An appropriation of $40,000 was made for a new chapel building. 'The athletic field was enlarged and the first greenhouse was built. The school was systematized and put on a stronger educational basis. All faculty members were elected on the civil service plan. Dr. Clark’s work will be remembered as a transitional period during which the school was brought into closer organization, making ready for its broader field of labor.
Prof. J. W. Crabtree was then elected president. He is the only Peru alumnus, who has been at the head of the school. He came to the Normal as a student in 1882.
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Prof. Azel Freeman of Greenwich. Kentucky, was chosen his successor in 1874. and took the position the following January. V. F. Wilson, a member of the faculty, filled the position until Mr. Freeman’s arrival.
It was about this time that the Everett Literary Society was organized, for elementary students, and Harry Bovdyston was elected president. This society is now on equal rank with the Philomathean.
Mr. Freeman continued his work until the end of the year, and was succeeded for a few months by Prof. Albert Nichols, Principal of the Preparatory Department, when Prof. S. R. Thompson of the Agricultural School of Lincoln was elected to the presidency. Phis was, indeed, a fortunate choice. His former experience at Marshall College Normal enabled him to reorganize the school and introduce more modern methods in normal training. He soon gained the respect and confidence of all. His perfect control of the school is shown by a unique custom of having Student Day. A paragraph of the catalogue of 1875 says: “For one day during each term the entire management and instruction of the school are left to the hand of the students, who elect a Principal for the day and teachers for all classes. Hitherto the students have accepted this trust in the right spirit and have discharged it with credit to themselves and satisfaction to the faculty.
From Peru Prof. Thompson was called to the State Superintendency of this state.
Prof. Thompson's successor was Dr. Robert Curry, 1877. of Penn. Edinburg Normal. His presidency is known as the era of prosperity and good fellowship. He proved a remarkable disciplinarian and held the respect and love of faculty and students. At this time hazing was much in vogue throughout the I nited States, and Peru did not escape. The pranks played upon fellow classmen form an interesting page of school history. For a president to curb such a spirit and still retain the good w ill of the students, indeed required a nature that was sympathetic and fully alive to the feelings of young life.
To the regret of the board, community, and students, he resigned his position in 1883. to spend the remainder of his life upon his farm, near Palmyra. Nebraska.
Prof. Geo. F. Farnham, who had been engaged in the public schools of Syracuse, N. V., and Council Bluffs. Iowa, was chosen president. During his presidency, a large addition was built to the Normal Hall, heating and lighting systems were installed, a library building was erected, all the laboratories were fitted with modern equipment, and the brick observatory was built. A military department was established, and all young men were required to enter. It was also at this time that the V. M. C. A. and Y. V. C. A. was organized.
Prof. Farnham will be remembered in educational circles as the originator of the sentence method of teaching reading. After leaving Peru, he went to California, where he resided until his death.
A. Wellington Norton, Dr. Farnham's successor, was chosen by the Board of Education, because of his reputation as an instructor, in the Oswego Normal, N. ' . During his administration a more complete system of waterworks was put in the school and the old standpipe was built. The surveying class under the leadership of Prof. Geo.
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working his way through and graduating in 1887. He began his teaching career in a rural school of Cass County. From this time he made rapid strides in the educational world, until he returned to his Alma .Mater, as its president in 1904. Under his administration the degree of Bachelor of Education was first given. The school work was divided into departments, as English, Mathematics and Science. The year’s work was also changed from the three term to the semester plan.
Prof. Crabtree will be remembered in Peru’s history as the man who made Peru popular and a power of influence throughout Nebraska. This was made possible by hard work and his personal popularity, and untiring enthusiasm, aided by an intimate knowledge of the public school conditions in Nebraska. This resulted in a remarkable growth of the institution, as shown by the enrollment, which for the regular year and the summer school of 1909, reached the grand total of 1,453, not including registration in the model school. One hundred sixty-four graduated from the advanced course of the Normal. More room was necessary to accommodate the students. A new library was erected and the old library building was remodeled and equipped for a Science Hall. A new heating plant was provided, and an appropriation was secured for the new administration building.
Mr. Crabtree was the third president from Peru to become State Superintendent. At present he is president of the Wisconsin State Normal, located at River Falls, Wis.
Pres. I). W. Hayes was elected in 1910. He is a graduate from Wesleyan University and received his Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska. He was Superintendent of the Schools, at Alliance, Nebraska, at the time of his election. He continued the policies of his predecessors in making Peru Normal a power of influence throughout the state. The standard of the school has been raised, the degree course has been established, and the following courses have been instituted, together with equipment for the same: manual training, public school music, art, physical training, and rural education. Among other things arc the "Budget System,” the "Hour System,” recognition by the North Central Association, and the Infirmary. At the close of the present year President Hayes will have signed more diplomas than all former presidents. During his administration the new steel frame greenhouse has been completed, the Library building has been enlarged, the athletic field has been improved by adding a drainage system, tennis courts, and a large cement stadium. The new T. J. Majors Training building has just been completed at a cost of $100,000. Under President Hayes’ direction and guidance Peru, the mother school of all Nebraska Normals, continues to hold her high place of influence and leadership.
The presidents of Peru have been from among the great men in the educational world, and Peru, today is what she is largely, because each of these worthy men has given to the institution the very best of his life.
Peru has had her fifty golden years and her sons and daughters may well be proud of her history and her achievements. M. H., ’17.
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