Wescott Township Schools
by Jane Glenz
NORTH BEACH SCHOOL
The North Beach School was located in Highway H just east of the Shalagoco Country Club. This district was known as School District No. 2 of the Town of Wescott until the area around the north end of Shawano Lake became a resort area called North Beach. The school was then known by the same name.
There seems to be no recollections as to when this school was first built, but it is estimated around the late 1890’s. In 1900 the building was moved to land on the golf course. It remained there until 1933 when M. P. Gharrity, then owner of the golf course, bought l/ 2 acre of land across the road and paid for moving the building.
At this time some remodeling was done to the original structure. A full basement was put under the building and cloak rooms were added. After its integration with District 8 indoor toilet facilities were installed. This was the first area school to have this convenience.
There were few settlers in this wilderness area when the school was first built. In 1905 there were onlyfive children in the school. It was not unusual for the children to see bears, wolves and other wild animals when walking to school. Some of the children took their dog along to school for protection. One pioneer recalls going to school for two extra years just to go along to protect his sister.
In 1921 the school was closed. At this time there were only Culver children going to school. Mr. Culver then transported his children, with horse and buggy, to the Oak Park School and for a time to the Cecil School.
In 1930 the enrollment increased and the school was reopened and remained open until 1964 when it was closed forever. The enrollment in this school never fluctuated to any extremes, the average throughout the years was about 10 pupils.
MURRAY CREEK SCHOOL
The first school at Murray Creek was built in 1896. A one-acre site was provided by H.R. McComb for the school which was built at a cost of $237.50. At that time the school was in Richmond District #7 but later became a part of Wescott. The school received its name because of its nearness to the Murray Creek. It was completely furnished at a cost of $70.
Early records report that in 1915 the State Superintendent of Schools condemned the building which was then sold for $30 and a new building was erected at a cost of $1,997. The building was completed by September, 1916. The district was attached to Joint District No. 8 in 1960 and was closed in 1967.
OAK PARK SCHOOL
Emil Raguse named the Oak Park School which was formerly District 2, Town of Westcott. The name was chosen because of the oak trees which surrounded the school. In 1920 some of the community members wanted the school named for families in the district, but it could not be agreed upon as to which family should have this honor.
The school, built in 1904, was located on the Raguse Road not far from the Menominee County line. The school was in continual operation from 1904 to 1967.
Before the district had a school of its own, the children walked either to the parochial schools in Shawano or crossed the Wolf River to the Forest School which was located just on the other side.
It was not unusual for children to start school at a late age, especially if one’s family came from a foreign country and the children had to learn a new tongue. Some pupils were as old as 15 years when starting in the first grade.
The enrollment was never large, especially in the early 1900’s, in fact, children from other districts were permitted to enroll. The average enrollment was somewhere around twenty pupils. It increased when several families built homes in the Balsam Row area.
WEST SHORE (LAKE DRIVE) SCHOOL
The Lake Drive School was located on the Shawano Lake Road, approximately four and one half miles from the city of Shawano. It was a one-room frame building which was constructed in 1938. When classes opened in the school in December, of that year, there were 28 pupils.
When the school became a part of District 8 only the third and fourth grades were taught there. First and second grades went to North Beach and the rest were transported to Shawano. The school was closed in 1968. Today the building is used as the Wescott Town Hall.