MC­CONCHIE

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Conchie, ac­cord­ing to alumni in­ter­viewed by the fair board mem­bers. “Mrs. War­ren Sim­mons was a very car­ing, con­sci­en­tious and strict teacher who al­ways placed the wel­fare of her stu­dents first,” ac­cord­ing to one in­ter­viewed.

Sim­mons lived in the same neigh­bor­hood as her stu­dents, so the chil­dren knew their fam­i­lies would find out the same evening if they mis­be­haved.

At least 12 of the orig­i­nal stu­dents still live in the orig­i­nal houses in the com­mu­nity that the one-room school served, ac­cord­ing to Char­lene Haynie, chair­woman of the Mc­Conchie Pro­gram­ming Sub­com­mit­tee.

At the orig­i­nal Mc­Conchie lo­ca­tion, the school earned the sup­plies for two out­houses, which were built by the stu­dents’ par­ents. The school had no elec­tric­ity or in­door plumb­ing, had a wood-burn­ing stove that heated the build­ing dur­ing the win­ter months, and had benches and ta­bles for desks. Each bench could squeeze three to four chil­dren on it to uti­lize space and Sim­mons would stand to en­sure there was enough room for her stu­dents.

Most of the high school-aged stu­dents would drop out of school to help their par­ents do house work or toil in the to­bacco fields.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the one­room school re­sulted in later dis­cus­sion be­tween St. Mary’s County’s Karen Stone, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the mu­seum pro­gram, and mem­bers of the Mc­Conchie School Project to col­lab­o­rate on fu­ture pro­grams. The St. Mary’s County Mu­seum As­so­ci­a­tion, in part­ner­ship with the Charles County Fair Inc., are look­ing at dual/com­bined pro­grams to in­crease the knowl­edge of black one-room schools and other his­toric events.

“We’re try­ing to do as many pro­grams as pos­si­ble to in­form the com­mu­nity on what they may not know about African-Amer­i­can his­tory,” said Char­lotte A. Weirich, fa­cil­i­ta­tor of The His­toric Mc­Conchie One-Room School Project at the fair­grounds.

About 40 miles away is the Dray­den African-Amer­i­can School­house, an­other one­room school that is open to the pub­lic in St. Mary’s County, a his­toric prop­erty Stone and her team work to pre­serve.

“Dray­den is the best pre­served African-Amer­i­can one­room school­house in the coun­try be­cause it has not moved lo­ca­tions,” Stone ex­plained.

The Uni­fied Com­mit­tee for Afro-Amer­i­can Con­tri­bu­tions con­tains sev­eral oral his­tory ar­chives of for­mer stu­dents of one-room schools that can be found at uca­con­line.org.

STAFF PHOTO BY DEJA ROSS

Char­lene Haynie, chair of the Mc­Conchie Pro­gram­ming Sub­com­mit­tee, in­forms the au­di­ence about the his­tory of the Mc­Conchie One-Room School.

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