The 1940s

A World War and a Growing School...

ImageIn the early 1940s, our country was immersed in World War II. Closer to home while the citizens of our country were supporting the war effort, Tekoppel School grew. A minor setback occurred on January 2, 1940 when Tekoppel School was damaged by fire. The school custodian, John Gaisser, discovered a fire in the boiler room in the basement of the school. He rang the fire alarm bell one time rather than ringing it three times to alert the principal, teachers, and students of a fire drill. Mr. E. H. Silety, quickly called the fire department from a telephone across the street at Brown's Grocery Store. Students exited the building without their coats thinking it was just a quick fire drill. However, they soon found out that this was more than a drill! When the fire trucks arrived, there was a delay in putting out the fire due to frozen water plugs. School was closed for a week to make repairs, and the cost of the damage was $3,000.
During the 1941-1942 school year, there were 223 families with children in Tekoppel School. Enrollment was approximately 350 students. A new stove and kitchen equipment were purchased this year. During this decade, the cook at Tekoppel had her salary raised from $10 per week to $22 per week. During the 1943-44 school year, students could each lunch for 15¢ a day, and an average of 135 children were served daily.
During the 1945-46 school year, a school supply station was set up in the basement. School supplies were sold to children before school and at noon. 
During the 1946-47 school year, lunch prices skyrocketed to 20¢ a day due to no government aid. The kitchen received a new 22 cubic foot refrigerator, a mixer, and stainless steel silverware. Tekoppel students adopted a French War Orphan and sent two boxes a month to her. A Jitney Supper and Festival was held to raise money, and the money was used to buy a record player, 12 basketball suits and sweatsuits, and students donated money to the Marine Hospital on West Illinois Street to help purchase films. Orange juice was served twice a week for just 1¢ a glass. Seventh and eighth grade girls were able to take "cooking," and students dyed Easter eggs for the orphan home.
In 1948, it was announced that there would be four rooms added to the school. The school would get a new heating system and the school would be redecorated if local taxpayers agreed to pay 23¢ more per $100 assessment. Finally in 1949, the school remodeling was completed. In fact, school began 7 weeks late due to the remodeling. The school year was extended two weeks until June 2, and school was held 4 days between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Unfortunately at this time some of the original character of Tekoppel School was lost when the bell tower was removed and an automatic, controlled bell was installed and used to begin and end school and call children in from recess.