More than two weeks before school was scheduled to open (on September 12, 1927) Mr. Roy noted in a letter home that there were already “not less than 17 children here at Schutz.” M. Roy, letter home, 8/26/27 Families en route back to their stations from Sidi Bishr and other vacation spots probably left their children at Schutz early, for the sake of convenience. Until the new matron arrived on campus, the Roys and Miss McGonagha, that year’s senior and, for the moment, only teacher at Schutz, had responsibility for all the boarders moving in ahead of Schutz opening for the academic year. On the 3rd of September, Mr. Roy and Miss McConagha went to Port Said to meet the new short term teacher from the States, Mary Dixon, who would be in charge of teaching all the high school and middler students. They also met Moneera Finley, in the 10th grade, whose parents worked in Abyssinia, and who had sailed to Egypt from Port Sudan, rather than take the more than 2 week overland journey from Addis Ababa to Alexandria. By mid-November, Schutz enrollment was up to 29. When the Schutz School Committee met at the end of October, its members were confident that enrollment would continue at its current level, or even grow. Despite the rumblings of retrenchment of Mission personnel from the Board in the fall of that year, the School Committee asked the Board for a third teacher. In early November, the two teachers (one covering grades 1 through 6, the other teaching grades 7 through 11) received some welcome relief. A UP pastor from the Stated had come to Cairo to lead the American Church there, for several months. His son, William (Bill) Sawhill entered the 9th grade, and his daughter, who had recently graduated from Monmouth College, came to Schutz to teach the youngest students for most of the year.
Faculty and Staff
The previous spring, Dr. Roy and Mr. Caldwell had hired a new matron for Schutz from the Anglo-American community in Alexandria. Mrs. Austick and her two grade school aged daughters came to Schutz at the very end of August, when she had recovered from a bout of influenza. Mrs. Austick had a “no nonsense attitude, worked right alongside” Dr. Roy “without a hitch and without a word,” moving “beds, bureaus, clothes presses, curtains, dishes, etc.” out of summer storage and into the flats, now being turned into boarding rooms. The entire process of changing the school from being summer vacation quarters into dormitory and classrooms was complicated by the fact of some missionaries staying in place until the last possible day. That and the influx of boarders before school’s start must have made for a characteristically chaotic beginning to boarding life this year.
Birthdays, whether of students or teachers and staff, were celebrated with enthusiasm and cake. The Bric-a-Brac calendars for Fall and Winter-Spring mention 18 different occasions on which everyone had either one or two cakes and ice cream for evening dessert or for tea. If a person’s birthday fell on the Sabbath (a Sunday), it was celebrated on the day previous. Occasionally a student or teacher received a box from home in time for the celebration. Everyone was always interested to know what had been in the box, and often the contents were shared with any who were around. The Bric-a-Brac regularly reported on birthday parties. Some were attended off-campus at a day student’s home in Alexandria, some were held in the dormitory flats as surprise parties, and some were celebrated out in the garden with a picnic, a camp fire, marshmallows to roast and running games for all. Now and then a mother would make the train trip from one of the nearer Mission stations upcountry, to spend the weekend of a boarder’s birthday at Schutz.
Weekends were opportunities for parties throughout the year, some celebrating the regular holidays—Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, others ‘just because.’ The Bric-a-Brac reports on a fancy dress masquerade party at which the guests’ costumes represented book titles, played games, and received prizes for the best costume and correctly guessing the most titles. ‘Just because,’ the high school had a formal dinner party, the boys being invited to the high school girls’ apartment. Roast chicken was served, and the senior boy was called upon to carve his first bird. Again, the little girls had an elaborate party in their flat, to which they invited the girls one grade ahead of them who lived in the flat across the hall. The Bric-a-Brac reports that they planned the party, saving oranges, peanuts, candy, chestnuts and marshmallows for several weeks before scheduling the event, and gained permission to stay up late for the festivities.
Schutz endured some illness and accidents this year. The seventh grade was particularly hard-hit, losing two of their four members between Christmas and the end of January. One member of the class was hit by a car over Christmas vacation, and spent a month in the Deaconess Hospital in Cairo recuperating from a fractured hip. In January, another member of the class came down with an undiagnosed illness, which caused all the girls in her flat to be quarantined for a full week in rooms apart from the sick girl. Dr. Grant, the Mission doctor who came from the Tanta Hospital to tend to Schutz students, determined the illness was not contagious, but even so, the sick girl was taken to hospital and then sent home to her parents’ Mission station in the Delta city of Mansoura to recuperate fully. In November one of the teachers, Miss Dixon, went to Tanta Hospital with a mysterious fever which some feared was typhus, until they heard from Dr. Grant at Tanta Hospital that she had contracted dengue fever, a virus borne by mosquitoes, with frightening symptoms of high fever, muscle and joint pain, rash and vomiting. In the spring, Moneera Finley fell playing football and broke both bones in one arm (Bric-a-Brac 1927-28, Winter-Spring). And over spring vacation, Mrs. Austick went to Tanta Hospital for surgery, cause undisclosed.
New rules were instituted at the beginning of the year by the teachers and Mrs. Austick, none of which (according to the Bric-a-Brac report) were appreciated by the boarders. One of these was the imposition of the Forfeit Basket. According to the new rule, all the clothing, books, toys and personal items left out of place by breakfast, were collected during the first class of the day, and given back after prayers in the evening. At that time, Mrs. Austick would hold up an item from the basket, waiting for the owner to claim the shirt, shoe or petticoat, scissors, socks, or doll, embarrassing the owner into neatness.
Extra Curricular Activities
The carpenter shop provided by Dr. Roy two years before still drew boys of all ages all through the year. Using scrap wood and wood from packing boxes, they made submarines, ordinary boats, race cars, a three legged stool, swords, wooden guns, and a court-side seat for the tennis umpire.
The little girls were given a playroom inside the main building, to which they took all their toys, and where they played on rainy days. The room was provided with a doll house, a trunk with dress up clothes, chairs and a table.
The most popular hobby of the year was Philately. All thirteen boys at Schutz collected stamps, “making stamps hard to get,” said Mac Roy, one of the Stamp Club’s most enthusiastic members. The members of the club had collections varying from 75 to 3500 stamps, not all of them in stamp books. “The natural result is that many stamps find their way into the Forfeit Basket, which can easily accommodate a few hundred.” Mac Roy, Bric-a-Brac Spring 1928
Football, tennis, and baseball were the main sports played this year, played by teams of boys and girls alike. Schutz students and teachers played each other in three tennis tournaments this year. During recess and afterschool hours, students climbed trees, played Prisoners’ Base and Pom-Pom Pullaway, had bicycle races on the garden paths, and roller skated on the tennis courts or the cement walkways in front of the main building.
Students had frequent opportunity to go on outings. Late in January, Dr. Roy organized a field day for all the boys at Schutz, taking them west of Alexandria to Mex, then a village outside the city limits built along the banks of the Mahmoudiyah Canal. Dr. Roy took the boys to see the stone quarries beyond the village. They stopped for a picnic lunch at the point of the canal’s outlet into the Mediterranean, and did some exploring there. On the way home, the one of the car’s rear tires blew out; the boys joined the effort to take the punctured tire off and put the spare tire on. In February, Mrs. Austick took the children of the elementary grades to the sea, bringing along the noon dinner and afternoon tea. The group went wading and swimming, climbed rocks and built elaborately in the sand, and at day’s end, everyone walked back to Schutz. Also in February, high school students attended an organ recital given by a professional musician in Alexandria; a different group attended a piano concert given by Alfred Denis Cortot, the eminent interpreter of Chopin, at the Alhambra. http://bit.ly/2THnDgC A few high school students and the Schutz teachers were invited by Dr. Caldwell, the Egypt Mission Treasurer, to attend a performance of The Merchant of Venice brought to Alexandria by the Shakespearean actor, director producer, Robert Atkins http://bit.ly/2I4oV3l .
All in the upper middle grades and the high school were invited to visit the H.M.S. Coventry http://bit.ly/2FDs5Ia , a British Royal Navy cruiser then docked in Alexandria Harbor. For Schutz students this was the first visit to a naval ship; in the years that followed up to 1941, Schutz high school students toured many British and American naval ships in the Alexandria harbor.
Many went to the movies in February. The high school students went into Alexandria to see movie Ben Hur. The report on this in the Bric-a-Brac concluded that the chariot race and the naval battle between the Roman galleys and the pirates made the most interesting parts of the film. Mrs. Austick took the elementary students to see Jackie Coogan in Johnny Get Your Hair Cut. A highlight for all the boys in school was being given the afternoon off from classes to go see a promotional film about the new Model A Ford. William Askren reported in the Bric-a-Brac that the theater was full, and “the picture showed the whole process of making and testing the Ford. The entire show was worth seeing and a great benefit to us.” http://bit.ly/2I4LXab
On a Saturday in January, the whole school went out to ‘the Sandhills,’ great dunes near the sea to the east of Schutz. The students had been to these dunes many times in years past, and during their summers at Sidi Bishr. A British Army camp was located still further east, but near the dunes. Schutz students were accustomed on these expeditions to visiting the Army camp to obtain fresh water for their picnic and tea. On this visit, they found the dunes had shifted, and all but one had dramatically reduced in size. The British Army camp remained the same in generosity when Schutz boys again came and applied for drinking water.
Schutz’ first two teachers, Miss Kelsey and Miss Warne, had returned to the States after the school’s first graduation ceremonies in May 1927. In their three years at Schutz, the two teachers had found means of distributing their teaching loads in accordance with each year’s changing student body. In their 3rd year, they were joined by Mary McConagha, whose appointment as the 3rd full-time teacher might have set a new standard for the Schutz teacher-student ratio. However, three teachers at Schutz seemed to be a Board experiment. When Miss McConagha became the senior teacher in the fall of 1928, at the start of her second year, Schutz again had only one other full-time teacher with whom to carry the weight of all 32 students. The new teacher, Miss Dixon, took on teaching all subjects to the middlers and high school students, while Miss McConagha continued as teacher of the 15 students in the elementary grades 1-6. The transition from the first pair of teachers to the second pair seems to have been smooth; neither the Bric-a-Bracs for this year nor any correspondence from Dr. Roy, who supervised the school for the Schutz School Committee, comment on the teaching or the curriculum this year. Madame Demidoff continued to teach French to the middlers and the high school. Miss Sawhill, an unexpected source of aid, temporarily lifted some of the teaching load starting in November. She came to Egypt with her father and her 13 year old brother. Her father, the Rev. W.R. Sawhill, had been appointed pastor of the American Church, Cairo. Miss Sawhill was able to teach for 5 months before she left Schutz in April 1928, to return to the States. There is no record of anyone teaching piano or choir this year, an unusual situation for Schutz.
No changes to curriculum are reported for this year.
Both literary societies begun in 1924 were still active, but each one presented a program to the school only once a semester, rather than presenting every month, as in the previous years. These presentations followed the previous years’ pattern, including recitation of poetry or famous speech, singing trios, piano duets, mock lectures on subjects like “Don’t Use Big Words”, full of sesquipedalian vocabulary, or a review of a famous author’s biography, and skits based on famous events—the development of Morse Code, Nelson’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Abu Kir (where the boys had gone fishing with Dr. Roy only a month before). The planning, preparations and rehearsals involved were organized entirely by the students.
This year, editorial responsibility for two issues of the Schutz news journal, the Bric-a-Brac, were given to the 7th and 9th grades. (The Bric-a-Brac may have ha a third issue in the spring of 1928, but no copy has been given the history writers.)
Logistical problems of transportation made weekly attendance at church too difficult for the teachers and the Roys to manage. The usual Sabbath routine this year continued the pattern set in 1924, of having the middlers and high school students going downtown once a month to St. Andrew’s Scottish Presbyterian Church. The high school Schutz students went both ways on their own, by tram. On church Sabbaths, the students departed campus at 9:30 for the 10:30 service downtown, and lunch was served half an hour later than usual to accommodate the returning students. Every day but Sabbath, the rising bell was rung at 6:30. On Sabbath, the rising bell was rung at 7:30; following breakfast, everyone was free until 10:30 (after making beds and neatening their rooms). At 10:30, everyone came to the library, on the 2nd floor this year, gathering for Sabbath School; those classes were sorted by the same groupings as were the academic classes. Every Sabbath except the monthly church Sabbath, lunch was served at 12 noon, followed by the daily period of rest and quiet. At 3:00 p.m., the boys in the middle and high school grades left campus to attend the Crusaders’ Union meeting at Dr. Campion’s house. In the evening after supper on the Sabbaths when students didn’t go to church downtown, they met again in the school library for their Junior Christian Endeavor meeting, which was led, as a rule, by one of the high school students. Subjects covered in these meetings varied from “How Far Am I Free to Do As I Please?” to “The Right Use of Our Spare Time” and “Love in the Epistles of John”. On the Sabbath each month when the Scottish Church was attended, instead of Christian Endeavor in the evenings, the students had Sabbath School after the usual evening prayers were held for everyone at Schutz, elementary through high school. Prayers included the teachers and the Roy family. One evening a week, the Roys and the teachers went downtown to the Attarine Building where they joined the other members of the Egypt Mission station in Alexandria for the weekly prayer meeting. Such a weekly station prayer meeting was the norm on all the stations where Presbyterians worked. The students’ regular day began with morning prayers and concluded with evening prayers, led by the high school students with the teachers’ oversight. In tone and daily schedule, the religious atmosphere at Schutz was as close to the students’ experience at home as circumstances allowed.
The Bric-a-Bracs for 1927-28 mention Halloween, Armistice Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Shem-el-Nessim. Armistice Day is the unusual one in the mix this year. That morning the chapel time was given over to Dr. Roy’s talk on the experiences of ‘the world war’, and prayers were offered specifically for veterans, soldiers and the war dead. After the service, instead of proceeding on to class, two of the teachers, Miss McConagha and Miss Sawhill, along with Dr. Roy, Mrs. Austick and her two elementary school daughters, went to the Armistice Day service held at the Alexandria War Cemetery at Hadra. On Thanksgiving Day this year, all Schutz students went to the Evangelical Church downtown (called the Arabic Church) for the Mission’s morning service. On returning to Schutz, everyone was served Thanksgiving Dinner in the garden, followed by plays and stunts given by all those present. Christmas celebrations began with a stage version of A Christmas Carol which had only been in rehearsal for 3 weeks. The play was followed by the now customary all-school Christmas party featuring Santa Claus, played by Dr. Roy.
Throughout this year, Dr. Roy continued to oversee efforts to improve the campus gardens. He had the pond in the northeast corner of campus cleaned, dredging out “8 to 12 inches of mud and slime.” Mark Roy letter home, 9/24/1927 He planted more trees throughout the garden, and had the school rooms in the main building repainted.
The Egypt Mission decided at its week-long Association Meeting in January 1928, to approve a one-year furlough for the Roy family after the usual seven-year term on the Egypt Mission field. The work of covering Dr. Roy’s absence was left to the Mission personnel at the Alexandria station, who decided among themselves which of them would be assigned to live at Schutz and take on supervisory responsibility for the school. The Roy family left for the States two days after school closed, in mid-May. Schutz had one high school graduate this year, and two 8th grade graduates.