“What an accomplishment!”
These were words spoken Sunday (April 21) by Martha Starmann, president of the St. Joseph County Historical Society, while presenting the ‘Historian of the Year’ award to Kathy Brundige of Colon in recognition of her work to preserve the history of one room schools in St. Joseph County.
The award was presented during the organization’s April meeting at its headquarters in Centreville – just prior to a program by Brundige on ‘The One Room Schools of St. Joseph County”. The award and the program reflected what Starmann described as Brundige’s “hours and hours and hours of work in searching out one room school information for the county.”
The Historical Society’s April newsletter says that “People have fond memories of attending a one-room school. Kathy Brundige has been researching and collecting photographs, attendance lists, programs, books, and anything associated with these St. Joseph County schools. She has volunteered to copy and organize by township this information into notebooks. The notebooks will be available for researchers in the historical society’s one room schoolroom located upstairs at the Klesner Museum in Centreville. Kathy is also digitizing these materials.” Starmann said, “It’s a remarkable history and what we’re so excited about is that Kathy Brundige is continuing this love of one room schools and finally organizing it all.” (Martha Starmann audio clip – 1:09)
In introducing Brundige and presenting the award Starmann said, “I thought it was quite remarkable that the one room school system was set up by the state and was very shortly after this part of the country was settled . . . so you’re talking about in the early 1830s. Education was that important.”
Brundige expressed appreciation for the award, noted that she’s been working on the project for about three years, and indicated that efforts to collect one room school information have been underway since 1967. (Kathy Brundige audio clip – :53)
The one room school topic proved to be popular with a full house of nearly 50 people on hand for the program by Brundige, a presentation that prompted a good deal of questions and sharing by those in the audience, many of whom indicated that attending a one room school had been part of their life experience.