Silent Schools Slumber….

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Ah, it’s the middle of July….dead in the center of summer and schools are in their deepest slumber.  On a far larger scale, I lived year-round in Oxford, Ohio for about six years.  Oxford is home to Miami University with its emerald-green quads and stately red brick buildings. Those years were some of the most enjoyable ones ever for me and part of the reason (besides being in my 20s:) was the seasonal rhythms of the city.  My favorite season was summer.  The city’s population decreased by about 3 /4.  Parking spaces were available uptown. Summer street concerts were a weekly event and the whole atmosphere seemed more relaxed.  There were just enough students around town on summer schedules to keep the city functioning, but it was a wonderful 3-month respite from the craziness of autumn.

I was far from Oxford yesterday, exploring a string of relatively new Amish and Mennonite communities in Ross and Pike Counties in south-central Ohio.  I’ll be posting plenty in the week ahead, so stay tuned!  Beautiful country!  I spotted several schools in their summer hibernation. This school is a tiny one that serves the Swartzentruber Amish settlement outside of Sinking Spring. Freshly baled hay surrounds the school, lined with a sprinkling of some Queen Anne’s Lace flowers  And for good measure, some outhouses out back marked conveniently:)  

Farther north, along Ohio Route 41 is the Old Order Mennonite settlement near Bainbridge.

The school is a bit more spacious to serve a larger number of students.  It too awaits the arrival of the fall’s crop of students.  Most Amish-run parochial schools close their doors for the term around June 1 and reopen after Labor Day.  For now, Amish and Mennonite children are spending summers working with family on the farm, helping fathers in cabinet shops, mothers with gardening and canning, but the season does also bring usual youthful fun from water battles on the lawn to visits to favorite swimming and fishing holes.

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The Discussion


  1. When I’m near an Amish or Mennonite community, I can’t help myself when it comes to school pics. I just love them. If they’re not fenced off, I go peek in the windows. Was an a Mennonite community last month and the teacher was inside cleaning up so she let me come in and look around and take pictures. Besides being a one-room school with no a/c, it was pretty modern.
    BethR recently posted..Come on over ~My Profile

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    • Beth, I love the schools, too…they are all a little different with their own quirks and characteristics. You are braver than I, but I think it’s worth exploring why: part of me wants to dismiss it as I’m just a little more shy and you’re more bold, but I think it goes deeper than that. The Amish are historically a very gender stratified society and culture. Add to the mix the school shooting at Nickel Mines and I think if I were a female, I’d feel a lot less reticence to go poking around the school-grounds. But I think a lone, 40ish male stalking around a school just looks bad so I often only go near unless I have the teachers permission. When my wife is with me, I feel much more emboldened exploring the grounds. Make sense? (of course it may also be that you’re just less shy than I!:)
      Kevin recently posted..Silent Schools Slumber….My Profile

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  2. Shelley V says:


    Did you ever take philosophy classes with Prof. Sommer at Miami University? My sister is married to one of his sons.

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    • No, I didn’t..my degree is in philosophy, but it was earned as part of the school’s “Western College” program, which was sort of a separate system.

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  3. Barb W. says:


    The pictures of the Swartzentruber school is quite nice, but I think that those stacks are schochs of wheat waiting to be thrashed. :)

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  4. I really like when you focus in on Ohio since I went to college in Wooster. I had my first introduction to the Amish there and my interest has grown since the first move in day in 1990. I live in SE Minnesota now and am planning on doing one of the Amish ‘tours’ in Lanesboro this summer. According to the information they are old order. I am not sure of the ones who lived in and near Wooster were old order or not so it will be interesting for me to see this community and see the differences.

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  5. Dawn Kirk says:


    Totally makes sense,Kevin! I understand.

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