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Bonny Doon Community Website
History - The School Bell

By Nancy Andreasen, with help from Joyce Dempewolf, Tina Nulph Gonsalez, Vera Hulse, Mary Kay Mooser, James Pennell, and Marian Wahl.

Bald Mountain School History
Beginning in 1886, Bonny Doon children who lived along Smith Grade attended a little school near their homes called Bald Mountain School.  It was located above what is now the Lingemann's place, on 3 acres.  After the primitive one-room building burned down in 1921 (arson was suspected but never proved), school was held in "the Morgan house" until a new school was built on donated land in 1922.

Smith Grade folks were independent, and chose not to have their school merge with San Vicente and Ocean View Schools in 1947 to become Bonny Doon School - but there were only 3 students, and that created a crisis!  Susan Edwards managed to drum up enough more students to create a student body of 7, including new teacher Carmen Fitchen's five year old, and Cave Gulch resident and organist Korla Pandit's son, who was car-pooled up and came in a turban.

The organization was informal.  All sat around a picnic table, and people driving by on Smith Grade would stop and talk with Mrs. Fitchen and her chicks.

One year neighbor Ann Christianson brought batches of her homemade soup over at lunchtimes.  The small group had wonderful playtimes together - even Mrs. Fitchen had black and blue marks up and down her arms from playing volleyball!  Mornings were spend in traditional studies and afternoons were creative times.  Performances of things like Peter and the Wolf were practiced, and the end-of-the-year Edward Murrow-like "I Can See It Now" production was created.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment came when, during a study of volcanoes, an actual eruption took place.  The oil stove exploded.

By 1962 the school closed, and Smith Grade's children began to attend Bonny Doon School.

Fred Fehn's School Memories
Bonny Dooner Fred Fehn's first school days were spent in the one room San Vicente School, which was on Pine Flat Road.  Fred walked to school, and was often followed by his pet cow, who stayed in the schoolyard all day until time to go home.  The teacher, Mrs. Smith, took her 5 or 6 students on a nature walk every 3rd day, out to the meadow or down to the brook.  (Fred remembers lots of nature study and play with clay - not so many books.)  As part of their schoolwork all the children did chores, such as bringing up firewood from the cellar, cleaning the schoolroom and yard, or putting lime in the boys' and girls' privies.

In 1877 San Vicente School had 33 students, but by the time Fred was in the 3rd grade in the 1940s the school had too few students to continue.  It was combined with Ocean View School, held in what was the Roy Rydell home.  The combined school consisted of 14 or 15 children, half of whom were the 7 children of the Sola family.  Everyone walked to school.  Fred walked 2 miles each way.  He milked 2 cows before and after school, and delivered 2 quarts of milk on his way to school.

School plays and potlucks were frequently held at school, on Valentine's Day, for example, and at Christmastime.  One year Fred and his brother carried the dragon frame in the Christmas play.  It was Fred's job to spit fire, which he did through a Rube Goldberg contraption made by Mr. Smith, the teacher's husband.  These get-togethers were big events in Bonny Doon.  Everybody in the community came, because, Fred says, there was nothing else to do.

Howard Hazeltine History
For all of us old-timers in Bonny Doon, the news of Howard Hazeltine's death on September 29th of 2000 brought vivid memories of this unique man who led and shaped Bonny Doon School for 25 years.

Mr. H., as we all knew him, was a certified genius, so identified by the great psychologist Lewis Terman who included him as one of the subjects of a long-term study of gifted persons.  He came to teach in Bonny Doon School in the early 1950s, starting in with one classroom of 18 students, grades one through eight.  He brought a clear personal vision of what a school should be.  He believed that state dollars meant state strings, and avoided outside involvement of all kinds.  He believed teachers should be able to do all the jobs at a school interchangeably, and demonstrated this by maintaining the school bus himself.  He did not believe in living by the bell, and had recess when he thought the children needed a break.  In regards to parent involvement, he is said to have believed that parents are best when they're kept like mushrooms, in the dark.  All of his energies went towards the academic success of the children he taught, with reading having a special priority.  As the school grew, he chose to teach the early grades, and most of his students could read by the time they finished kindergarten.

One cannot think of Mr. H. without thinking of his wife, Doris, for the two were always together as a team.  When the school had enough children to merit a second teacher, Doris officially came on board.  Together they created a school community that was unique.  My son Jim, now 48, says that if the Hazeltines thought a kid could manage something, they gave him the opportunity to try, no matter how difficult it might be.  When Jim, age 12, expressed an interest in amateur radio, Mr. H. found an old Morse code machine, and taught code to Jim and his friends.  After school, Mr. H. led a popular class for the older children in understanding the slide-rule, in which he taught them some basic principles of geometry and trigonometry.  (Admission to the class depended on being able to recite the multiplication tables perfectly.)  When Jim came upon logarithms, sines, cosines, and tangents in high school he said, "Wait a minute, I've studied these before!"

Mr. and Mrs. H. used all sorts of materials to further the education of Bonny Doon's children.  Books were everywhere, as were learning aids such as Cuisenaire rods for math.  Then as now art was a major part of the curriculum, for the upper grades class especially, and Mrs. H.'s classroom offered weaving and jewelry making and had its own kiln for firing pottery.  A row of typewriters was lined up on one wall so that children could learn to type.

The Hazeltines did many special things to motivate the children.  When one of the little Nulph boys struggled to learn to tell time, Mr. H. labored with him, and, finally, when he succeeded, bought him a watch to celebrate the event.  (Unfortunately, in a lapse of attention, Mr. H. bought him a digital watch, which removed the need for him to tell time after all.)  When Jim resisted homework, week by week Mrs. H. ordered a special little primitive computer from the County Office of Education, and only allowed Jim to play with it when all homework was completed.  (The bribe worked, and he works in Silicon Valley today.)

As the years passed, the population of Bonny Doon changed and grew.  More teachers were employed.  Mr. H. became the official Superintendent-Principal, charged with administering the school as well as teaching the children.  Difficult and controversial issues arose.  In 1978 Howard Hazeltine was reassigned by the Bonny Doon School Board to being a simple classroom teacher, and in 1979 he resigned.  For 25 years he and his wife Doris had devoted themselves to Bonny Doon's children.  They had set the tone of Bonny Doon School and made it the special thing it was.  Their life was teaching and learning.  Those of us who knew them will never forget them.