And Now You Know: Presbyterian Day School, 70 years in education

Published 8:07 pm Saturday, October 20, 2018

By Mike Louviere

The oldest school in Orange with the same name at the same site is Presbyterian Day School. The day school was the dream of the pastor, Reverend E.T. Drake. In 1948, he saw his dream come to fruition.

The membership of Lutcher Memorial Presbyterian Church had discussed the possibility of establishing a school. A committee of three ladies from the church, Mrs. R.P. Turpin, Mrs. E.L. Harvey, and Mrs. Alan Cameron visited a church in Corpus Christi, Texas that had such a school and brought back information and a plan for starting a school in Orange.

The objective of the church was “To develop the child spiritually, mentally, and physically for the future (and) to give the pre-school child an educational background for the future.”

There would be a pre-school class and two first grade classes at the school.

The church had acquired, for the school, the home of the late Mrs. Carrie Lutcher Brown located next to the church.

The home of the Late Carrie Lutcher Brown would be the location of the new Presbyterian Day School

The school would be named Presbyterian Day School, the first term would start in September 1948. It would be the only Protestant church school in Orange at the time.

Pre-school enrollment would be limited to students that would be five years of age by January 1. The work would be designed to give the child entering first grade the following year a good foundation.

Enrollment in the two first grade classes would be limited to 20 students in each room.

The first year the total enrollment was 55 students.

Each week the students would go to the church for a chapel service conducted by local visiting Protestant ministers.

Also, each class would have a 30 minute Bible study each day. Bible study was considered an important part of the child’s education at the school.

The reading program was stressed; reading was considered a vital part of the educational program. Visual aids included a film strip machine. The school also had a radio, record player, and rhythm band instruments.

Children were given a feeling of usefulness by being allowed to assist the teacher during the mid-morning period when fruit juices were served.

First-grade students brought their lunches. Milk was provided by the school.

Along with study and other training, the students were taught to play together on the large lawn of the old home. Playground equipment was shared by all.

Cooperation in the classroom was practiced as a part of the overall Presbyterian Day School educational program.

The school would be governed by a board of directors responsible to the church. The first board officers were Josephine Sims, Chairman; Eugene McEachern, Secretary; Henry Schweinsburg, Treasurer. Other board members were; Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Keller, Mesdames Hardy, Cameron, and A.C. Roberts.

Church Secretary, Mrs. Hughston Wright, assisted the school staff.

Mrs. O.C. Gammage was principal and first-grade teacher. Mrs. Beulah Blackwell taught the other first-grade class. Mrs. M.D. Meek was the teacher of the pre-school class.

Still, in operation, the location of the school has moved from Ninth and Green to Ninth and Elm Streets.

Today, the school has a Mother’s Day Out Program for mothers of children ages 18 months to three years of age.

Preschool program is for children four years of age.

Transitional kindergarten is for four-year-old children whose birthday falls after the September 1 cutoff date, or for children who would benefit from an additional year before entering elementary school.

As in the early years, today’s students attend chapel services and music classes.

“And now you know.”