Frank Lloyd Wright's Wyoming Valley Grammar School is just one of many Wisconsin country schools
featured in Kelly & Tammy Rundle's new historic documentary making its Wisconsin premiere in
Richland Center on February 12, 2011.
Award-winning filmmakers Tammy and Kelly Rundle (a Wisconsin native) spent two years visiting over 70 one-room schools throughout the Upper Midwest for their most ambitious film to date, Country School: One Room – One Nation. The historical documentary will have its Wisconsin premiere in a special Wisconsin Humanities Council screening event at the Richland Center City Auditorium on Saturday, February 12 at 2pm.
The free event is co-sponsored by the Richland County Historical Society and the Richland Area Performing Arts Council. Q&A with the filmmakers, award-winning Wisconsin author Jerry Apps and Richland County historian Jerry Bower will follow the film presentation.
Over 80 hours of interviews, vistas, and historic sites shot in all four seasons in Wisconsin and four other states have been distilled down to a feature-length documentary that tells the dramatic true story of the life, death, and rebirth of one-room schools in the Upper Midwest.
Country School was funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. The Richland County Historical Society is the fiscal sponsor for the film project.
Among those schools featured in the film are the Akey School Museum in Richland Center; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wyoming Valley School in Spring Green; Reed School in Neillsville; Old World Wisconsin’s Raspberry School in Eagle, the school selected for the movie’s poster; Stoney Hill School in Fredonia—the birthplace of Flag Day; Brickyard School in Merrill; New Richmond’s Heritage Center Camp No. 9; Frances Willard School in Janesville; Chippewa Valley Museum’s Sunnyview School in Eau Claire, and many others.
Country School also takes a closer look at rural schools and how they attempted to unify American immigrants during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
“By 1900 in Wisconsin we had over 50 ethnic groups, all of them committed to public education, and the little country school as the symbol for accomplishing it,” said historian Jerry Apps. Apps sat for an on-camera interview and appears extensively in the film.
Wisconsin had country schools for over 200 years and they were free to all children regardless of their economic situation, religion or ethnicity. In 1933 Wisconsin reached a peak of 6,191 one-room school in 7,777 districts. One of Wisconsin’s most interesting and unique contributions to country school history was the Wisconsin School of the Air broadcasts that began with ten programs airing daily in 1931. Programs such as “Afield with Ranger Mac,” “Let’s Draw,” “Exploring Science,” “Let’s Sing,” and “Democracy in Action” were received by up to 50,000 students at once.
Country School: One Room – One Nation premiered at the State Historical Building in Des Moines in November 2010. More theatrical bookings, film festivals, a national DVD release, and Midwestern PBS broadcasts are planned for Country School in 2011.
The special Wisconsin Humanities Council screening of Country School: One Room – One Nation will be held at the historic Richland Center City Auditorium, 182 N. Central Avenue, Richland Center on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. The event is free to the public and features a Q&A discussion following the film.
Country School: One Room – One Nation was funded in part by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Humanities Iowa, the Kansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area.
The Wisconsin Humanities Council, a non-profit organization, supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in Country School: One Room – One Nation do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.