History Culture German Russian History
Some Memories of a Silva School
By Mary Lynn Axtman, Fargo, North Dakota, May, 2003
Our appreciation is extended to Mary Lynn Axtman
for writing her memories
of the Silva School.
My Silva School years of 1952 to 1959 were a very
important part of my growing up years besides those learned within
a loving family with six children and as members of the Balta Catholic
Some of the important life lessons learned at Silva School besides
the usual 3 R's were:
A] Tolerance and diversity: as the Silva teachers and students
in the years I attended were about evenly mixed with either Scandinavian
Lutheran or Kutschurgan Catholic German-Russian cultural heritage,
we would learn about and share differences in foods, such as lefse
vs. kuchen, lutefisk vs. pickled herring, Sunday Lutheran Bible
School lessons vs. summer Catholic Catechism School besides sharing
various Scandinavian or German words we knew; perhaps some not so
As there only about 35-40 students in all eight grades and two teachers
when I attended, it was necessary that the girls be part of organized
recess playground activities, such as softball, basketball, hockey
or anti-I-over in order to play a game.
Thus the girls learned early on that they could compete and cooperate
equally with or against the boys. All the students help organize
and produce the annual Christmas and other various other programs
for parents and community.
B] Independence: the two elementary classrooms (grades 1-4 and 4-8)
taught independent studies and learning by the students in each
of the other grades when the teachers were giving specific lessons
to just one of the grades. We others could be working on our own
school lessons independently, reading a library book or just listening,
learning or reviewing what was being taught to the students in another
grade. As my class had only two students in most of my elementary
school years, I learned much from the older students as well.
C] Civic lessons: Silva School had an organized 'Young Citizens
League" where we learned lessons in citizenship, government,
leadership, public speaking and conducting meetings. As the Silva
School building was used for the various civil elections, we would
learn first hand about voting and the election process by our parents
involvement in school, township, county, state or national elections
and as elected officials or on boards of directors.
D] Higher learning: Both at Silva School and at home I learned of
the resources available to both students and their parents through
lessons and advice made available through the County Extension work
at North Dakota State University in Fargo or the State of North
Dakota Library in Bismarck. We discovered that learning continues
all through life and where to find resources about many different
subjects not specifically taught in the regular school lessons or
in the books in our school library.
Silva Elementary School was a great learning foundation and produced
many who went on to college and university studies, degrees and
Thank you Silva School with great teachers and people for such
a fine elementary education.
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael