Saturday, April 16, 2005

Lysenko Rural School - SD #494

The purpose of this blog is to record the 60 year history of the one room country School that I attended from grades 1-8 (1951-1959). It was located in the Insinger RM #275, approximately half way between the towns of Insinger & Theodore Saskatchewan, Canada. In part, this is also a contribution toward the Saskatchewan Centennial (1905-2005) Celebration!! For the BIG Picture on Saskatchewan One Room Schools, click on this website:

Lysenko school, as will be described later, had 3 physical locations.
It's first & second location was on land donated to the Lysenko community by the 'Robert Lawrie family for a School, Church & Cemetery.

My siblings, brother Dennis and 2 sisters Sharon & Joyce attended Lysenko School #3 in this same 1951 to 1959 era as I did. Our dad Steve Moroz, attended Lysenko School #2 from about 1912 to 1918. Many of my first cousins also attended School #3. In my last 2 high school years at Theodore (1959-1963), I had a dance band and we played weekend dances at various rural community halls .... Lysenko being one, as well as many similar ones in the area.

Lysenko is the surname of a famous old country Ukrainian composer/musician by the name of Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912). The community was named 'Lysenko' in remembrance & honour of this Ukrainian patriarch who was a comtemporary to the Settlers who came to Canada's west. The Lysenko district/rural community was formed mostly by the immigration of Ukrainian settlers from the mid 1890's to the early 1900's. The school was but one part of the community. There was also a Lysenko community hall and still existing is the Lawrie/Lysenko Church & Cemetery. The Lysenko hall was moved about 3 miles NW of it's original location to serve as a hall for the Insinger (Highway) Ukrainian Orthodox church. There also still exists in the woods a barn where the community members could 'house & feed' their horses while attending community events.

There is some confusion about this rural School's initial Official name of Insinger vs the name of the rural community 'Lysenko' that it served. This school has also been referred to as 'Lawrie School' because in it's first 2 locations it was located on Robert Lawrie's land. Any confusion will hopefully be removed as one studies the chronological events & rationale below.

Chronology of the Lysenko/Insinger Rural School - SD #494 60 Year History

(This information & chronology is taken from an article by Mr. Mike Woroniuk in the 1987 Theodore History Book)

January 31, 1899: 1st meeting of district to establish a School District. Name chosen for the district was "Insinger".
March 7, 1899: Meeting to elect School trustees and choose a location for the school. The trustees chosen were Robert Lawrie Jr., Jacob Jalack, & Robert Lawrie Sr. Location was the west boundary of NW6-29-7-W2.
April 14, 1900: Meeting to approve borrowing $300 to build the school.
Summer of 1900?: Lysenko School #1 is built along the N/S road allowance on the west boundary of the Robert Lawrie Homestead quarter of NW6-29-7-W2. It is located about 90 ft south of Lawrie Creek. It is officially named Insinger SD #494 of the North West Territories. Apparently this was a Log building of some sort.
Sept 1909: Approval to borrow $1000 to build a new School & teacherage 40 rods (660') north of the existing location because the old school#1 upon inspection was 'Unfit for use'.
Summer 1910: New Lysenko School & Teacherage is built 40 rods North of the old location. This location is about 300' directly west of the Lawrie/Lysenko Church.
Oct 6, 1921: A new Insinger 'Town' School #4164 desires to use the name 'INSINGER' so the rural 'Insinger' SD#494 agrees to drop the 'Insinger' name and adopt the new name of 'LYSENKO', BUT still retains the SD#494 designation.
August 6, 1927: Approval received to build a new Lysenko School on a new site at NE31-28-W2.
Sept 20, 1927: $4,500 borrowed for the new Lysenko School #3 at a new more central location.
Summer of 1928: New & final Lysenko School#3 is built. The old school#2 is moved to this new site to be used as a teacherage. The teacherage from the old school#2 was apparently moved to Insinger, renovated & extended to become the new Insinger town hall. I assume this last school #3 opened for use in the fall of 1928 or perhaps at the latest in 1929.

June 1959: Lysenko Rural School is closed.

Some time in the 1960's: The school building is sold to the Sheho Legion and moved to the Town of Sheho to become the Legion hall.

Technically speaking - the first location was Officially called 'Insinger' for it's total life of 10 years, then at location #2 it was 'Insinger' for 11 years and 'Lysenko' for the 6 remaining years. Finally at location #3 it was Lysenko it's whole life of 32 years - for a total life span of 60 years (1900-1959). Although this schooI was initially called Insinger, in all it's 3 locations it only served the Lysenko Rural Community and never the Insinger town area. Therefore it's not wrong to say it was really the 'Lysenko Rural Community School' for the whole 60 years, regardless of what it might have been called officially. I think that is probably the real Key point that needs to be made here to clear up any confusion.

The records of the Lysenko School teachers and students (pupils) from 1900 to 1921 could not be located. However records of teachers and pupils from 1921 to 1959 is available with a couple of exceptions. These records were physically located in the Foam Lake 'Shamrock' school division up to 2004. They have apparently been relocated to Wadena as a result of School district Amalgamation since then.

A typical school day: School started at 9:00 AM sharp with the ring of the bell and ended at 3:30 PM. There was a 15 minute recess period in the AM session, a 1 hour noon hour lunch/recess period and then another 15 minute recess period in the PM. There was a very formal sequence of events at the start of every school day. If you weren't seated at your desk at the ring of the bell, you could be marked 'late'. I can't remember the exact sequence, but I think 'Role Call' was next. The teacher called out your name and you had to verbally reply 'Present' (if you were!). After Role Call, we stood and sang the national anthem O'Canada. Then we recited the Lord's Prayer. Then everyone was told to be seated and there was a hygiene inspection. You were required to have a clean handkerchief which you had to pull out and lay on top of your desk as proof of such. You also had to have both your hands resting on top of your desk with palms down. The teacher would walk up and down all the rows examining your hygiene: no dirt under finger nails, hands were to be clean, hair was to be clean, combed and no lice! No BO please, nor dirt etc in the ears or behind the ears.

The one lonesome poor teacher could potentially have pupils in all 12 grades! When I started school in 1951, there were 42 pupils and 9 grades in one room. There were 5 in Grade 1, 6 in grade 2, 4 in grade 3, 5 in grade 4, 4 in grade 5, 6 in grade 6, 5 in grade 7, 6 in grade 8 and 1 in grade 9. The teacher had to have lessons & home work for each grade. The teacher typically spent the first 10-15 minutes assigning tasks to the grades 1-2, then proceed in intervals to the higher grades. Then he would come back to the Grade 1 & 2's and check their work and answer questions or explain more if some didn't understand. Since you were in the same one room as all the other grades, you had to concentrate on your own stuff, but you also heard all the stuff that was being taught to all the other grades. So in a way, you were actually exposed to the information for all the grades all the time. If there were any problem kids - and there always were a few in every school - this would cause a distraction and you often got off track as to what you were supposed to be doing.

School Chores: Every able pupil was posted on a rotating roster for school chores.

  1. Daily clean/wash the blackboards & 'pound' clean the felt brushes. (Outside Please)
  2. Daily sweep the wooden floors. (Had to use sweeping compound - an oily green flakey material that would prevent dust from rising when you were sweeping).
  3. Daily raise, lower, fold and store the Union Jack flag.
  4. Daily bring water & fill an insulated white metal type water dispenser.
  5. In winter, daily come to school about 1 hour early and light the furnace. (When it was your turn to do this). In Lysenko this was a horrible job as the chimney always had bad cold down-drafts and the school would fill with smoke before it eventually started to work right and start to warm up.
  6. In winter, daily keep the furnace fire going and the humidifier tank filled with water.
  7. Daily 1 hour before lunch, light the basement stove to warm water for hand washing. (Because there were only outdoor toilets and no washing facilities).
  8. If you came to school by horse, then at noon you would check on and feed the horse some hay you brought with you that morning.
  9. If you used a horse, every few weeks you would have to come on a weekend and remove the manure.
  10. Only the teacher would wind the pendulum clock. Why you ask? Because if any pupil was allowed to do it, they would invariably move the time up about a half hour so they could go home earlier. A smart teacher always double checked the clock against his/her watch. These kids were no fools, but neither were the teachers!

The Outdoor Biffy's: Life can not go on without a biffy, we all know that! As you can see in the attached photos, they were a bit larger than normal because they were 2 seaters!! There were no nice soft padded seats either. Just a couple of holes in the wooden seat decking. The one for the guys could actually accommodate 3. Yes, there were the 2 seats as well as a galvanized tin urinal on one side. My God were these things ever cold in the winter! You had to act quickly or suffer frost bite! However, things were no better when you got home. Same thing - but just a one seater, winter & summer. You had to be tough those days to survive this kind of cruel & undue mental & physical punishment.

Games we played in winter outdoors if it was warm enough: Fox & the Goose. Snow fort building & tunneling if the snowbanks were large enough. At noon we would clear ice on a slough on a farm immediately north of the school and play hockey. Toward spring when the snow was getting nice & sticky we would play 'WAR". We would build two snow walls about 3-4 feet high and about a snowballs pitch apart. Then we would choose 2 sides and take about 5 minutes to build up a large stash of snowballs on each side. Then we would yell 'Attack' and both sides would pitch a volley of snowballs at each other while trying at the same time to take cover behind the wall. If you got hit, you had to stop throwing and stand on the sidelines. The last person not gettting hit would represent the winning side. It was a bit like the 'Survivor' TV challenges of today. However we didn't have any rewards or immunities.

Games we played indoors in winter: Table Tennis was very popular. I remember playing many matches against my cousin Gerald Moroz. We cracked a lot of tennis balls when we hit the ball really hard and many times we would run out of balls. We would either keep on playing with a cracked ball or sometimes resort to a small sponge ball until the teacher could get us new ones. I also remember playing musical chairs (desks), with the teacher controlling the music on the windup gramophone or record player using the old heavy duty 78's (prior to the 33.3 LP's or the 45's). Oh yes, the boys played 'Rooster Fights'. This is where you would hold up let's say your right leg with your right hand and hop around on your left foot. Also, your left arm had to be behind your back holding your right arm. Get the picture? While doing this you tried to intentionally run(hop) into your opponent and knock him off balance so he would have to let go of his right leg and try to prevent himself from falling. Who ever lost his balance lost the fight. The winner would then challenge the next person, etc. Then there were the 'Brawn' competitions like "Breaking Fingers" (Yeah almost literally). If you milked a lot of cows by hand it was very hard to get beat because we used to have a lot of finger strength. Of course almost everyone milked cows and pretty well everyone had a lot of strength so the competition was stiff! Then there was also the 'Arm Wrestle' that will probably be popular forever as it still is in bars today when guys get drunk and just can't think of anything smarter to do.

Games we played in the summer: Cops & Robbers was by far the most popular game played by the boys. There was another one which I can only remember the name, but not how the game went called 'Oyster Shells for sale'. Softball was played often because it was one of the games that was played in the annual field meet competitions between schools in the district. So the more proficient you got, the more likely you would be a worthy opponent in the annual field meet, perhaps even champion! Hide and seek was played a lot and was fun because there were a lot of bushes around & if you were a good runner, usually you could outrun the seeker to get home. The girls played games like 'Ring around the Rosie' and ???? help me here girls !!! ....what else?

Other 'up-coming' items: Description & maybe some photos of the inside of the classroom, school picnics, Christmas concerts, description of school yard, annual field meets, etc.

This is a 'work in progress', so ..............
I will continue to correct & add more history and photos to this blog as time goes on.

If you have any historical contributions (stories, photos) that you may have and want me to add to this site, please email me at: It would be greatly appreciated and I will identify you for credits for your contributions.

Photo Credits: Most of the Photos posted here were Originally taken by Teacher Mr. Bill (William) Suschinsky. Thank You Mr. Suschinsky for your photos!!

Note on Photos: To make images larger > Left click the image. To make photo clearer > right click the photo and then click on 'show original image'. To restore the photo > click on 'Back' on your tool bar.

Last Lysenko Class - June 1959

For a better quality photo: Right Click photo, then click 'show original image'
Starting at top & moving L>R and downward.
Henry Melnechenko, Chris Korolek, Mike Melnechenko, Bobby Suschinsky
Gerald Moroz, Ken Moroz, Sharon Melnechenko
Fred Minken, Emil Malinowski, Iris Moroz
Elaine Melnechenko, Beverly Nystrom
Mervin Korolek, Alice Melnechenko
Lawrence Hanchar, Gary Walker
Dennis Moroz, Sharon Moroz
Sylvia Hanchar, Joyce Moroz
.....taking Photo, teacher Mr. Bill (William) Suchinsky

Final Lysenko Class - June, 1959. Posted by Hello

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lysenko School #2 Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

'57 Ford Snowed Under. Beauty!! Posted by Hello

Horse and Buggy School Days!! Posted by Hello

Teacherage, 1938?, back side of School. This is a south view (looking N) Posted by Hello

Last 'weeny roast' Supper Posted by Hello