News-Herald Staff Writer

CADIZ – Class was in session once again at the historic Ourant School outside Deersville, where today’s second-graders learned lessons of yesteryear.
For the past 12 years, volunteers have instructed students from Harrison Westgate, Jewett and Lakeland Elementary schools for a two-week period on basic subjects and area heritage. Art, math, writing and spelling are interspersed with rock painting, moral stories from the McGuffey Reader and Bible, as well as some local history and displays. The recent rainy weather and dampened schoolyard kept students indoors and recess consisted of marbles and Clothespin in the Milk Bottle games of the bygone era.
The school’s last day was Thursday and Ourant hosted pupils from Westgate. Teachers and many of the students dressed in old-fashioned apparel to make the event more authentic, while slates and hornbooks served for writing assignments.
The hornbooks are writing samples that are laminated as keepsakes, and took part in spelling bees. Following recess, things were more lighthearted as kids enjoyed such punishments as the dunce cap and boys wearing the teacher’s bonnet.
“The whole idea is to learn about their heritage,” said Tillie Heavilin, a member of the Ourant School Foundation and volunteer teacher. “We try to create a 1900 classroom. We try to hit on almost all of the subjects during the day with reading, math, citizenship, spelling, art and music.”
When asked about the differences between yesterday’s schooling and modern times, Heavilin said, “They like the old-fashioned games; these games are completely new to them. Being able to run in the schoolyard, there’s a certain freedom about it that is wonderful for them.”
Student Blake Chesla said he enjoyed “coloring the rocks,” although the outhouse was a bit of a culture shock.