The first educational building in Wallmow was built of clay and timber at the north end of a lot donated by Friedrich Haseley. The back of the building was partitioned off and served as living quarters for the teacher.
In 1873 this school burned. The fire was discovered in the back part of the building during school hours. Teacher F. Wilhelm Wendt got the children to safety and saved as much of the furnishings and equipment as possible, while one of the boys, following Mr. Wendt's orders, ran over to the church and rang the church bell. The furious clanging of the bell, coming unexpectedly in the middle of the afternoon, immediately told the Wallmow families that some disaster had occurred. Then men gathered at the school as quickly as possible to save what they could and put out the blaze.
It was not possible to repair the building, however. The second school, a brick structure, was erected in 1875. The school building which served for 77 years had one room where seven grades were taught by one teacher.
The concept of this kind of arrangement seems impossible today. The basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught. Proper writing technique was very important. A poor or incorrect technique would result in a lower grade or rewriting the assignment. Other subjects included geography, history, and spelling. Spelling bees were a fun way of sharpening skills.
One advantage of the one room school was that when things got too boring or your work was done, one could listen and watch the other classes.
Teaching religion was of first importance. For the first and second grades this meant memorizing Luther's small catechism; third, fourth and fifth graders would continue by memorizing Luther's large catechism. (The "large catechism" was a question and answer explanation of the five parts of the catechism as well as accompanying Bible verses. By the time a child was confirmed he was expected to have memorized the entire catechism.) The sixth and seventh grades would prepare for confirmation by attending daily hour long confirmation classes with the pastor.
Memorization assignments were certainly not among the favorites. We always questioned why we had to remember "all this work". However, as we look to our everyday lives, each of us can recall times of adversity, sorrow, perplexity and of happiness, when a particular Bible verse or hymn learned, came to us to give us the comfort or encouragement needed for that moment. These words remembered are often our source of strength and hope. We ought not to dismiss this valuable tool of learning as being no longer relevant.
Music has always been a very important part of the curriculum - hymns memorized and sung in school and for Christmas Eve services and school picnic programs; by 1960 training was expanded to include theory as well as singing in four part harmony.
Classes were taught mostly in the German language until the time of World War I. The anti-German sentiment was so strong that the schools were told to introduce teaching classes in English. German and English reading and writing (German script) continued to be taught well into the 1930's and German language religion, and confirmation remained in effect until the early 1940's. Another custom peculiar to the parochial schools was that the day after confirmation (usually in April) the student would continue his schooling in the "public school", rather than going to the next grade at the beginning of the school year.
This seemingly overwhelming schedule of classes, and variety of subjects to be taught by a single teacher, required much cooperation from the parents as well as very strict discipline of the students. It usually fell to the mothers to help the children with daily memorization work; homework in most subjects was also on a daily basis.
Strict discipline meant "no talking aloud without permission, ask permission to get up from your seat, no whispering, no turning around, no gum chewing, just sit and study". Of course, we all managed to do some of these but should we be caught, we knew there were consequences to pay. Minor infractions probably meant writing "lines 10-25" times. Major offenses could mean writing 100-200 "lines", staying in at recess or lunch hour, or for the incorrigible ones, punishment could mean being sent out to cut a willow branch and it would then be administered in an area which would make sitting uncomfortable.
Christmas Eve was a time of great expectation, even as it is today. Hours had been spent in preparation for the church program; songs had to be rehearsed, recitations memorized, (admonitions by the parents to "speak loudly"). At the end of the service, the trustees distributed a candy bag to each child. There was much rustling of paper as the rubber band was slipped off the bag, and it was opened and examined. The contents were usually a small paper bag of hard candy, chocolate drops, and sugar cream candy, while the large bag held an assortment of unshelled nuts.
Before electricity was installed, the tree was trimmed with candles. Trustees were assigned to sit near the tree with buckets of sand, in case the tree caught fire.
The school built in 1875 remained in use until 1954. The brick building was one large school room, there was a pot bellied stove in the northwest comer to provide heat and as many desks as required to accommodate the fluctuating number of students. The unheated entrance was used as a cloak room. There was no indoor plumbing; two "little houses" complete with Sears catalogs served as "Johnny on the Spot". Students were also responsible for chores around the school. The girls took turns sweeping the room; the boys provided wood for the stove, removed ashes, and also carried water from the well to the water container.
. By the late 1940's it became increasingly apparent that the old school was inadequate to serve the increasing number of students and the changing requirements in the educational system. The present school was dedicated in 1954 under the leadership of Rev. Martin Pempeit. Mrs. Pempeit and Miss Williams were the first teachers in the new school.
Subsequently, over the years the scope and size of St. Peter's Christian Day School has changed and increased to include foreign languages, home economics, and computer science. Present enrollment is 108 students, five full-time teachers, three part-time teachers, two part-time teachers aides, one part-time secretary and one part-time principal. The grades range from pre-school through grade 8. Parents and parishioners alike continue their commitment to provide an excellent educational opportunity for the children, our future church leaders.
Significant changes in the community took place after World War II. Many of the returning veterans found employment other than the farming they had left behind. New people moved into the community. Walmorewas affected by the same changes as the rest of the nation.
English language services were not introduced at St. Peter's until the early 1930's. Almost exclusive German services were conducted until the early 1940's. The school dedication booklet dated 1953 lists the services for each Sunday as German service at 9:30 a.m. and English service at 10:45 a.m.
While the "hoch" (high) German is seldom used today, a number of parishioners are still very fluent in speaking the platt Deutch (low German) and often speak it in their homes.
The cherished Lutheran tradition of praising God with music is reflected in our worship through instruments and choral music as well as the congregation lifting their voices in song, from the great chorales of Bach, the mighty hymns of the Reformation, the contemplative songs of commitment, the plaintive sound of a spiritual, to the joyous melody of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.