The school interest of the citizens of the village of New Carlisle were of paramount importance and thus well cared for from its very founding. Before the passage of the first school law in 1821, subscription schools were supported in the village as early as 1812. After passage of the first state school law in 1821, New Carlisle became a distinct school district, though it would not be until 1865 that it would be-come a separate and graded school district.
In 1838, “a very commodious school house” was built of brick to take care of the needs of the primary age children. The building was located on lots 128 and 131 (northeast corner of Jefferson and Scott Street). In just a few short years the building was found to be insufficient in size and other accommodations had to be found for primary classes, though no mention is suggested as to how the situation was accommodated.
In the early 1850’s, the Reverend Berger of Dayton organized a select school, to be called Lafayette College, which was to provide more advanced educational pursuits for students who wished to seek a higher education. This program continued for two years with great success. In 1852, the Reverend Thomas Harrison, a Methodist minister from Springfield, arranged with Reverend Berger to take over the interest in the school project. The attendance and interest in the school increased to such an ex-tent that two years later Reverend Harrison erected the first Linden Hill Academy, to which the citizens of New Carlisle contributed very generously. The school was located on a former Indian lookout point on West Madison Street. The school attracted students, not only locally, but from Clark, Champaign, Greene, Montgomery and Miami County, as well from other states. The school was co-educational although the mingling of the young men and women was reduced to a minimum since the Reverend Harrison is said to “have ruled with an iron hand” when it came to discipline. According to old records and newspaper accounts, it was the first graded grammar school west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Due to Reverend Harrison’s age and health issues, the school was sold to the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1860. Reverend John Braden of Dayton was appointed Principal of the school and served the years 1861 and 1862. The school was closed for two years due to the distractions occurring as a result of the Civil War.
By 1865, the village was organized under the Akron Law, which provided for a single school district, the election of a board of six directors authorizing the board to establish primary schools and one central grammar school; to fix the term of transfer from one to another; to make and enforce all necessary rules; to employ and pay teachers; to purchase apparatus; to certify to the town council the amount of money necessary for school purposes; and to provide for the examination of teachers. The village elected Board of Directors, established a primary school, a grammar school (high school), and certified the need for, and recommended to the town council to consider levying a tax upon all taxable property, which was accomplished. Soon after, the board purchased the Linden Hill Academic from the Methodist Episcopal Conference and immediately organized a high school, with a curriculum for all eight grades and a high school course that prepared students for college work.
Keeping with the progressive spirit of the village, the old school was torn down and a new brick building, much larger, more modern, and build on the same site was constructed in 1885. But not without criticism. The criticisms voiced by citizens included: “it was too high, too low, too long, too short, too large, too small, too elevated, too obscure, too light, too heavy in the wall, too slow, and too fast.” Despite the criticisms, a large turnout of residents came for the dedication of the building, which took place January 25, 1886. The Clerk of the Board, J. V. Perrin reported the cost of construction was $19,300, and that the Board account remained with a balance of $800. The building was heated by a coal furnace, the well and pump were at the foot of the hill and water had to be carried to the building. The restrooms were, as was customary in those days, in small buildings at the rear of the school. Teacher salaries were $35.00 a month and there was a corps of six teachers employed. Linden Hill had the first basketball team in area schools. The team practiced on the third floor of the school and the 1914 basketball team were State runner-up in the Class B tournament.
After thirty-five years of successful work in the second Linden Hill schoolhouse, the need for a new building was felt due to the growth in population in the community, much needed renovation to the building required by the State, and new curriculum requirements added to the course of study. In 1921, a large and modern structure was built at the bottom of Linden Hill, while the old Linden Hill was torn down. The new school was operated under what was known as the six-six plan. The elementary consisted of grades 1-6 and junior and senior high school 7-12. The junior high was a new concept having come about in 1914 to assist children in adapting themselves to the marked differences in subject matter and the new methods of instruction between the grades and high school and more importantly, to encourage students to stay in school and to graduate.
Education continued to make dramatic improvements throughout the early part of the twentieth century. Much of this was due to the collaboration of local, state and federal government. And, as has been the tradition, both in New Carlisle and Bethel Township, our schools continued to be in the van-guard of the progressive movement.
After World War II, general education was complimented with a clear-eyed and realistic awareness that specialization was a fact of modern life. The attendance in high schools and colleges increased in the 1950’s. A post World War II boom of students coming back from the service was brought into the college level of American public education. Yet at the very time educators were seeking quality of schooling they were forced to provide schooling in more quantity than ever before. The post-war “baby boomer,” shortage of teachers and classroom space plagued local boards of education at the same time the general public was harassing school officials with demands that they explain “why Johnny can’t read.” This tension between quality and quantity significantly altered the American education scene and sharply increased Federal intrusion into educational matters. Disparities in educational quality from area to area were another problem confronting American education. Such disparities prompted many school districts, particularly those contiguous with one another, to enter discussion for the possible consolidation or merging of their resources, all with a mind toward providing a more comprehensive and quality education program for all children, regardless of who they were or where they might live. Such discussions were encouraged and, in some cases, even required by the State Board of Education, who by law had the right to consolidate schools.
The village of New Carlisle and the Olive Branch School Board began such discussions shortly after the conclusion of the War in 1946 and continued them for the next two years. The results of these negotiations came to a successful fruition in the spring of 1948 when the people living in the two separate school districts voted overwhelmingly to merge the two districts into one to be known as the New Car-lisle Bethel Local School District, the second such school district in Clark County to consolidate. The actual resolution officially creating the newly consolidated school district took effect June 15, 1948. Garrett Trostel was elected President of the newly created board and William Rees was elected to serve as Vice President. The subsequent purchase of land and approval by the State and County Auditor to proceed with the submission of the question to the voters for issuing bonds and levying an additional 1.7615 mills of taxation to raise the needed $215,000 was approved by the voters. A 3 mill operating levy was also approved at the same election.
The New Carlisle Bethel Local Board of Education met in special session at the Olive branch School on June 1, 1950 to open and review bids for the building of a new high school. Five days later, June 6, the Board met again to award the General Building Contract to Sever-Williams Company of Washington Court House, Ohio. The construction of an ultra-modern new high school to serve both the community of New Carlisle and Bethel Township began later that fall. In October of 1950 the Board of Education formally named the new high school Tecumseh.
Due to the delay in the completion of the new high school building, therefore not ready for occupancy at the opening of school in September 1951, the board decided that all 10th, 11th and 12th grade students would attend school in the Olive Branch building while the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students would attend school in the New Carlisle School building.
The board approved the final organization of the district schools at their March, 1952 meeting. The newly completed Tecumseh High School would house 10th through 12th grade students, Olive Branch would house the Junior High and the New Carlisle building would become the district elementary school, along with Donnelsville, Medway, and Olive Branch.
The completed Tecumseh High School was officially accepted April 1, 1952. The Tecumseh senior class of 1952 did not have the privilege of attending classes in the building but were accorded the honor of holding Baccalaureate and Commencement services in the new Tecumseh High School Auditorium.
(This summary review of the history of the Tecumseh School District was compiled from information in the publication of “Recalling the Past, Reminiscence Through the Years-The History of Bethel Township and New Carlisle Schools Clark County, Ohio/1802-2002,” written by William Berry).