Savannah, Ohio School
North Central Ohio Biographies

Savannah School. The village of Savannah has always maintained high religious and educational standards, as evidenced by its church and school spirit. As early as 1856, its citizens rallied to the leadership of Dr. Alexander Scott, a minister in the village, and by the subscription plan and generous support as needed in other ways, aided him in founding an academy, then called Savannah Male and Female Academy, but later known as Savannah Academy, "to afford facilities of an educational character equal to any of like grade in the land." (Reference: H. S. Knapp's History of Ashland County, published in 1863.) Its course of study covered the sciences, languages, mathematics, instrumental and vocal music, and its literary work was outstanding, as evidenced by its thriving literary societies where its students vied with one another in recitation, essay, oration, music and debate. During the life of the Academy there were six literary societies in all of which enthusiasm and spirit to excel ran high: Irving, Orio, Anticello, Delta, Irving II, and Gladstone.

The student body was made up of young men and women from miles around, who desired an education. Two large three story frame buildings were erected as domitories for the students, one on the north side of the campus, for the women, and one for the men several rods south of the campus, on Main Street.

Savannah Academy flourished in the quiet, peaceful atmosphere of Savannah until the year 1915. The time had come when an education was compulsory for everyone and because only those young people of the community were benefited by the Academy, who desired an education and were willing to pay for it, citizens of the community considered the advisability of converting the Academy into a town and township high school, to be supported by taxation, and all of the pupils, upon the completion of their grade school work, to be required to attend. The plan finally came to a climax; the change was consummated; the work of the Academy was ended and its building and equipment used for high school purposes. There were in the township at that time seven one room rural schools and in the town a two room grade school building. The high school was placed under the control of a joint town and township board of education and the pupils were required to attend the high school upon completion of their grade school work.

But it was not long until the high school facilities were wholly inadequate to give pupils a training commensurate with the requirements of the time the building and equipment were greatly below the standards, and expansion seemed mandatory. A move was therefore launched to create a district covering Savannah, Clear Creek Township and a portion of Orange Township, and to erect a large grade and high school building in Savannah. Such district was set apart by the Ashland County Board of Education, under the name of Savannah Clear Creek Rural School District, and a board to have control of the new district was also appointed by the Ashland County Board. The personnel of the new board was as follows: Miss Rae Bailey, president; E. H. Kestner, vice president; John Gibson, clerk; T. H. Beattie; E. R. Livingston and H. P. Vantilburg. Mr. Vantilburg declined to serve, and Mr. Uriah Eberhart was chosen to replace him. The board, under the leadership of High School Superintendent W. O. Renner, secured the services of Mr. Granvifle E. Scott, architect, Norwalk, Ohio, who submitted blue prints and estimate of cost of building, whereupon, the board decided upon a plan of building and arranged for a $65,000.00 bond issue which was submitted to and approved by the citizens of the Savannah Clear Creek Rural School District at the November, 1922, election. The contract for construction of the new building was let to Wesley Smart, of Castalia, Ohio, and his brother, Ross Smart, was placed over the supervision of the construction. The new building was ready for occupancy in March, 1924, when the schools were moved into their new quarters. Two new departments were created and given space to carry on their work in the new building: A SmithHughes Agricultural Department and a Domestic Science Department. A splendid gymnasium was provided in the building. The first corps of teachers in the new building were: W. O. Renner, superintendent; Miss Blanche E. Chambers, of Walton, N. Y., high school principal; Miss Marie Bogniard, of Ashland, teacher and head of domestic science department; George McCool, of Philadelphia, Pa., head of Smith Hughes department; Miss Anna Gibson, Savannah, 7th and 8th grades; Miss Mary Mildred Farquharson, Savannah, 6th and 7th grades; Miss Estella Howe, Shelby, Ohio, 3rd and 4th grades. A department of music was later created, under the direction of Miss Bonita Myers, of Ashland.

The board provided busses to transport the children living in rural districts, to and from the school. The busses were drawn by horses, the country roads not being sufficiently improved to make the use of motor busses possible. However, a short time later it was possible, because of road improvement, to convey some of the pupils by motor bus or auto, who lived near the paved state highway No. 60.

The new building was formally and very appropriately dedicated on Friday, April 25, 1924.

At the present time there is an enrollment of 67 in the high school and 198 in the grades, and the school ranks third in size and total number of pupils, excepting Ashland: Loudonville, first; Hayesville, second; and Savannah; third. Mr. Carl Songer, of Veedersburg, Ind., is the present superintendent and head of the Smith Hughes department, which latter position he has held for the past four years, the past two of which he has also held the superintendency.

History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931

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