by Lisa Tome
While public school students in Cecil County started classes after Labor Day, those at Cecil's newest school, got an earlier start on August 28.
Wood Valley School, in the Calvert area and serving Amish children, is new this year. The brand new building, tucked back on Wood Valley Road near the Pennsylvania line, is serving 18 children. Rachel Lapp is the teacher in the one room schoolhouse.
Lapp said her class include children in grades one through four, grade six, and grade seven. "We have no fifth or eighth grade," said Lapp. She also said that all of the children except for two who live nearly in Pennsylvania, are Cecil County residents.
Classes begin at 7:45 each morning and continue until 2:45 in the afternoon. The children bring their lunches as there is no cafeteria. The bathrooms, separate for boys and girls, are in an outbuilding. The classroom is decorated like most public school rooms, the alphabet, in both cursive and print forms, hang on the walls.
Lapp rotates the lessons, teaching reading, math, social studies, spelling, geography, and health. On Fridays, there is an art class. There is daily recess. Lapp said the school day starts off with Bible readings and devotions. The children recite The Lord's Prayer and sing.
More than a year ago, local Amish families expressed the need for a school. Amos Kauffman is chair of the school board. Kauffman said at that time that an Amish one room school house will be built on Wood Valley Road. The school will serve as many as 30 children. Amish children typically attend school through eighth grade. The Amish population in Cecil has grown to the point that it's a necessity.
Those who live in Cecilton have had Amish neighbors for years.
There is an Amish school just south of Cecilton. Approximately 18-20 children attend that school from September to May each year.