Remembering Girls' Town of America, Cincinnati, Ohio
Music, Recreation, Vocational Training
Our Lady of the Woods provided a basic education to its residents, plus vocational training to help them become self-sufficient once they graduated or left the institution. In the early decades of the twentieth century, elementary as well as middle and secondary grades were taught. Elementary classes included religion, reading, English, spelling, arithmetic, geography, history, civics, hygiene, penmanship, science, art, music, and manual training. By the 1940s, "financial circumstances led to focusing on wards of the court and delinquent girls aged thirteen to eighteen" in the schools run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in the United States. "The decrease in census of the younger dependent girls in the school began in 1931 and fell to the lowest level in 1953. This eliminated girls younger than thirteen years and older than eighteen from being admitted after 1938 and caused the closing of the Good Shepherd elementary schools throughout the United States." (Nancymarie Phillips, Education for girls in the House of the Good Shepherd in the United States, 1940 to 1980, 125.)
An undated memo from the late 1940's or 1950's, titled "Our Lady of the Woods--Girls' Town," states the educational program serves grades 7 though 12:
"The school is on the grounds. In Junior High, girls are divided into small groups; we attempt to adapt the subjects to the student's own level. Senior High has Commercial, Academic and Vocational programs; but is geared more toward commercial and vocational training. Summer school consists mainly of Arts and Crafts except in some cases when make-up academic work can be accomplished." (Sisters of the Good Shepherd Archives, Carthage Program, box 2, file 33)
In addition to basic subjects, students in the upper grades took classes in home economics, typing, and physical education.
Students participated in musical activities such as Glee Club, Choir, and Band.
Recreational activities included volleyball, basketball, archery, and swimming.
Students learned skills such as bookkeeping, typing, and office machinery operation, to prepare them for occupations after graduation. They also had the opportunity to learn cosmetology. They learned sewing, crocheting, cooking, and other domestic skills they would need for running households.
Next section: The Evolution of Girls' Town