Schutz opened its 3rd year on September 1, 1926, with 29 students. Four of the enrolled were day students. Five of the boarders were the children of the two Egypt Mission men, The Rev. R. G. McGill and the Rev. J. W. Baird, who had drowned at Spouting Rock only three weeks before, in the effort to save another missionary and two children who were caught in a rip tide off the coast at Sidi Bishr. The two McGill children, who had previously attended the American school in Cairo as day students, and the three Baird children, who had been Schutz boarders the previous year, were enrolled only for the fall semester. During that time, their mothers packed up their houses and finalized affairs in Egypt, preparing to return to the States. The last of the vacationing missionaries left their summer Schutz accomodations on August 31st. All the school desks and dormitory cupboards, desks, and tables were moved from the storage on campus and set in place for classes and boarding by the next morning.
Faculty and Staff
The UPNA Board of Foreign Missions in Philadelphia appointed the Muskingum College graduate Mary McConagha to a three-year term as the third teacher for Schutz, in response to Mr. Roy’s request, a mark of confidence in Schutz’s future of support for families of the Egypt Mission. Miss McConagha arrived by boat at Port Said on September 9th, greeted by Miss Kelsey and Miss Warne, who accompanied her back to Alexandria. Miss McConagha’s assignment was to teach the 3rd and 4th grade classes. The two other teachers divided all the rest of the subjects between them, covering the the grade levels from 5th through 11th. Mme Barbara Demidoff continued to teach French to all classes, and Fidelia Duncan also returned on staff, teaching piano. Both these members of the faculty commuted to Schutz from Alexandria. Mrs. Harris, who had served as matron starting the first year Schutz opened, made this her last year. Like the three American teachers, she lived on campus this year. Her husband and daughter had already emigrated to the States, where her daughter entered Muskingum College. She planned to join them in the spring.
Several changes planned for Schutz students and boarders took place over the summer. Three tables were now needed for meals. The dining room was moved from the east wing on the first floor down to the rooms directly below, on the ground floor. The kitchen was also on the ground floor; since the Ottoman-era architecture did not allow for interior access from ground floor to first floor, throughout the previous year, the food for a meal had to be carried outside and upstairs to the dining room; then, at the end of the meal the plates and cutlery were carried back down, again going outside to reach the kitchen on the ground floor. As the boarding population increased, this method of making do no longer served well. Moving the dining areas downstairs was practical also for room needed to accommodate the larger number of people at table this year. Day students ate lunch at school, further increasing the number seated for meals.
For the first two weeks of school, students were allowed to segregate themselves by age, but in the third week, a new system of “number days” was introduced, in which all students drew numbers for places at the three tables available in the main dining room. A side dining room was set up for days of overflow when guests came to visit. Schutz entertained guests every month; visitors to the Egypt Mission from America arriving at the port of Alexandria, parents coming to visit their children at school, missionaries from town come for an afternoon of tennis or to give the Christian Endeavor message on a Sunday evening, and staying for tea or dinner, missionaries passing through Alexandria to do Mission business with Mr. Roy—all were invited to stay for a meal, some stayed upstairs in the guest rooms on the fourth floor, in the wing of flats not occupied by the Roy family.
Weekdays and Saturdays began at 6:30 a.m. Breakfast was served at 7:00 o’clock, followed by Chapel at 8:00. The first school bell rang at 8:15, and classes started at 8:30. Classes let out at 12:15; lunch was served at 12:30. Between lunch at 2:00 p.m. students returned to their rooms and either napped or read quietly. Classes resumed at 2:00. Classes let out for the day at 3:30, just as tea was served. Supper was served at 6:30, followed immediately by prayers. Study hall for everyone followed prayers; the grade schoolers were out by 7:30, the middlers and high school students out an hour later. Lights out for the oldest students was scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Saturday’s schedule was like a weekday’s, but room cleaning and room inspection replaced morning classes. Free time came once the chores were done; meals and prayers were on the same timing.
Sunday was called the Sabbath by the Egypt Mission and all of Schutz, following the UPNA tradition, with attendant restrictions. The rising bell rang at 7 a.m.; breakfast was served at 7:30. No chores were done on Sundays, other than making beds. Breakfast was followed by Sabbath School at 8:30. Because Schutz enrollment had increased, it was no longer possible to transport the entire school to church every Sunday. The teachers and Mr. Roy decided to divide the school into two groups. The older ones could use public transportation on their own, though a teacher did accompany them. The following Sunday, the younger ones made the trip with adult accompaniment. After breakfast, those who were going to the Scotch church that week left at 9:00 on the 45 minute trip by tram and on foot. Dinner was served as soon as the church group returned.
The afternoons were free, but everyone was quiet, resting or reading in their rooms until tea time, at 4 p.m. After tea, the boarders walked about the garden. Running games, bicycling, sports, tree climbing, all noisy activities were not permitted on the Sabbath, nor was homework or piano practice, though piano playing was permitted. Supper at 6:30 was followed by Christian Endeavor meetings for both Juniors (high school) and Intermediates, both of which were planned and conducted by the boarders themselves.
Dormitory and classroom arrangements changed along with the dining room, this year. The fourth floor was again occupied by the Roy family in one wing, perhaps with a spill-over into one of the two flats in the other wing. The remaining flat was left open for overnight guests. The second floor remained dormitory space for the girls this year. The high school and middler girls were assigned one wing; the other wing was occupied by the grade school girls with the 3 teachers and the matron distributed among them. Both wings of the first floor became the boys’ dormitory, with the high school boys in one wing and the middlers and grade school boys on the other side. The two converted flats (apartments) used by the high school boys offered space for them to have a sitting room.
Room inspection was usually done by either the matron or the teachers on the floor. Occasionally, Mr. Roy conducted a surprise room inspection. The October Bric-a-Brac includes several mentions of a surprise inspection of all rooms on a Monday morning after classes started, on a day when the eighth grade had to recite an unusually long poem in English class, and all had shirked their usual chores of picking up before the school bell rang. That evening, Mr. Roy appeared at the doors of all rooms, not just those of the 8th graders, and handed out slips of paper with his critical observations on them. “Too many sticks, shoes and clothes lying about.” “The table was not in order and beds were poorly made.” This was perhaps one of Mr. Roy’s means of exerting necessary authority that the teachers found difficult, being only a decade or so older than their pupils and, several of them, having siblings back in the States who were as young as Schutz boarders.
Along with the ordinary chores assigned the boarders (room cleaning, sorting clean laundry, grounds-pick up detail, picking flower bouquets for the tables in the dining room), in September of this year boarders were assigned a rotating list of cleaning and sorting chores that took some weight of duty from the teaching staff. These chores included cleaning classrooms, sweeping, clearing chalk board surfaces, taking care of the games and sporting equipment, sorting and re-shelving books in the new library. A high school student was assigned by rotation to staff the new library to check books out and in.
The boarding department decreased by 6 in late November and early December. The two McGill children and the three Baird children sailed for America with their mothers on November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. All through October, Schutz students worked in secret to prepare “sunshine books” for their friends, putting together letters, gifts of handkerchiefs, boxes of letter paper and envelopes, letter openers with Egyptian figures inscribed on them, boxes of homemade candy, photographs, poems, riddles, mementos, amusing recollections written out by classmates and roommates, assembled in a format that allowed the ones leaving to open a page a day as long as their journey lasted. Contributions for the books (one for each student) were solicited from teachers, matron and even the Mission people “upcountry” in Assiut, Luxor and Beni Suef. School pictures were rescheduled to a date that would let the five departing students be included. Pieces in the November Bric-a-Brac were solicited from those leaving, so their contributions would be part of the record of their last month at Schutz.
As term opened in January, the elementary and middlers came down with measles and were quarantined without classes; homework was assigned nonetheless. The high school classes continued on schedule. Simultaneously, influenza swept through the city of Alexandria. Henry Russel, son of the American Consul stationed in Alexandria, had been ill enough in early November to spend some time at Tanta Hospital, but he returned to school by month’s end. However, in January after school had reopened, Henry Russel also left Schutz, not well enough to continue his studies.
Sports, Clubs, After School Activities
The bare ground directly outside the north-facing entrance to the Schutz building had been planted with grass over the summer of 1926. Students now went further down into the garden to dig holes and tunnels as they liked. By Mr. Roy’s arrangements, one of the ‘bathing cabins’ at Sidi Bishr was brought over to the Schutz compound and set up in the lower garden, to the north, as a carpentry shop for the boys, who used it after school and on Saturdays. That fall, a new set of school desks arrived, shipped in hardwood boxes. The boys petitioned for the use of the boxes. After the boys disassembled them, the shipping crates became tables, chairs, shelving, airplanes and, particularly, swords and daggers, and wooden guns that shot rubber bands. The lower garden had two tennis courts, one clay, one cement, and a basketball court on the plain dirt near the cement tennis court. All were in regular and highly competitive use by middle and high school grades in particular. The pond in the northeast corner of the lower garden continued to be a daily attraction for sailing homemade vessels or working out engineering projects such as dragging logs out of the mud below the pond’s surface, fashioning bridges and hunting wildlife living near the water.
The middler girls, 5th and 6th grades, were given a sewing class this year, led by Miss Kelsey, in which they learned the skills of using a thimble, even and uneven basting, hemming and machine stitching. The boys in the 7th and 8th grades were given a Construction class for the same 45 minutes on Tuesday mornings. Their first project was to make a set of Rook playing cards. The Literary societies continued in rivalry for the best weekly performances of recited poetry, skits, pantomimes and presentations of historical events. Croquet became the rage in December, by which time the grass plot in front of the Schutz building had become fully rooted. As the spring months arrived, boarders who had finished their homework in the evening went out into the garden to play baseball, and others played nine-pins on what had been the basket ball court while waiting a turn at croquet, set up on the lawn right in front of the Schutz building. The basketball had deflated because of the broken bladder inside the ball. To round out the sporting possibilities, students had high jump rods to practice with, ahead of the field day coming at the end of term.
The students went into Alexandria for movies and the occasional concert. In April they attended a concert given by the violinist Jascha Heifetz.
A weekly drawing class was added to this year’s curriculum. The students used a textbook about American painters, preparing reports on artists and studying for quizzes each week on the forms and styles covered in the book. Reproductions of art, some taken from the covers of the Literary Digest, were put up each week on construction paper and studied for techniques of landscape and portrait painting. By the end of November, students had moved to drawing turkeys and studying and discussing the differences between Italian, Egyptian and Greek art. In December, the drawing class focused on different artists’ presentations of the Madonna. What the students called “a laboratory” was set up in the fall in one of the rooms in the classroom wing. This space was apparently dedicated to science reading. While the room did not include an area for experiments, students were encouraged to use a bulletin board in the room to post questions and items of interest to them, and to browse through the required reading made available as reference texts. Nearly a thousand books, donated by members of UPNA congregations in the States, arrived in the fall. The teachers, with Mr. Roy, took two half-days that month to make a system for sorting, labeling and shelving those books deemed appropriate and useful for school use.
In the spring, high school students wrote “long themes’, research papers on subjects assigned by grade. The sophomores, for example, wrote theirs on “Egyptian Customs.” Throughout the school year, the middlers—7th and 8th grades—wrote biographies for English class, and by spring, were assembling their work in alphabetical order, prior to putting together a ‘biographical magazine’ to be copied and made available to parents and friends. All three high school levels conducted quarterly formal debates. Students took field trips to ancient Egyptian sites like Pompey’s Pillar and the recently discovered Alexandrian catacombs, went to visit the modern sights of Montaza Palace and Nouzha Garden, where there was a zoo with a mix of birds and animals native to Egypt and imported (flamingoes, pelicans, peacocks, lions, zebras, deer, hyena).
The 3rd and 4th grade students were moved out of the ground floor wing of the Schutz building devoted to classrooms, and given a classroom in the ‘salemlik’, a one-storey building on the eastern part of campus, which, the year before, had been given to the girls as a playing area, similar to The Fort, which the boys claimed for a club and their Boy Scout meetings. The salemlik had come with the second lot of property bought by the Egypt Mission in 1925. It served the previous owner as an area set apart for hospitality with friends, and a reception room for visitors. The salemlik was built on a slightly raised piece of ground surrounded by trees and shrubs. Though the building was now a classroom, the landscaping around it continued to be part of the gardens in which all the students played and occupied themselves after school. The monthly calendar created for the Bric-a-Brac has December 16th and 18th marked for exams across all classes, with the students’ Christmas program set for the 17th.
1927 marks the first year that Schutz held graduation ceremonies. 11th grade was, by agreement of the Egypt Mission parents, considered the end of high school in Egypt. Returning Schutz graduates often went straight into their freshman year of college. A number of families sent their sons to Stony Brook, where they spent a year as seniors readying themselves, largely in the cultural and social areas they would need for full adjustment to life in the States.
The previous year’s Sunday (Sabbath day) schedules of church and Christian Endeavor began again in September of 1926. Each Sunday the boarders had Sabbath School right after breakfast. In 1926-27 there were enough boarders to divide into three classes, one for each teacher. After Sabbath School, half of the Schutz boarders attended the Scotch Protestant church in Alexandria proper. Schutz continued to be without transportation adequate for the entire boarding department. The boarders took it in turns to make the 45 minute tram trip from the Schutz tram stop to the stop west of central Alexandria, arriving just in time for services. Half the boarding population went to church one Sunday, the other half attended the following Sunday. In the evenings, two levels of Christian Endeavor program were held, one for the middlers and one for the high school boarders. All the boarders gathered for the opening services, and then the younger ones broke away for their own program, run by one of the teachers. The older boarders selected the elements of the common worship service, accompanied the hymn singing on the piano, planned their CE program topics, and presented a talk on the topic of the day. Topics this year included “How can we improve our minds?” “What is real Christianity?” “How should we choose our vacation?” “Friendship” and “How to Conquer Circumstances.” Topics were prepared with Bible verses, clippings from magazines and newspapers, and discussion questions. Occasionally a visiting missionary was invited to be the featured speaker. The teachers were present for Christian Endeavor programs; the ones who stayed with the older group were responsible for the weekly drill of answering questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, studied for the examination required before joining the Presbyterian Church. The teachers made a game of this weekly requirement: students stood in a line; the first one was presented with one of the Catechism questions. If she answered correctly, she remained standing; the ones who did not have the right answer (memorized) sat down. The winners were left standing at the end of the period and were named in the monthly Bric-a-Brac article on Sunday evening activities. A number of people resident in Alexandria outside the Egypt Mission were drawn to offer the Schutz boarders opportunities for religious enrichment. Two couples in particular stood out for Schutz boarders, who remembered the Sunday afternoon occasions with affection and gratitude. The boys went to visit Dr. Campion, an English dentist, who led inspirational gatherings called Crusader Meetings at his home. The girls went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Givens, who gave the boarders a sumptuous British tea, followed by an hour similar to the one the boys experienced, in which they sang Gospel choruses and listened to a motivational talk. The boarders who wrote about these events later found the food they were served as memorable as the spiritual effects of the experience.
Halloween was celebrated this year with student-made decorations, costumes and a party for all, boarders and day students alike. Earlier in the month, the King’s Accession Day, October 10th, was observed from the roof and balconies of the main Schutz building, where boarders stood to see the fireworks. Mr. Roy went through the King’s formal receiving line with other members of the foreign clergy in Alexandria, and when he returned, he took those who were new to Schutz this year into the city by car, to see the thousands of electric lights festooned about the main city streets in honor of King Fuad I’s accession to the throne.
In November, the first celebration was observed with a half-day of school on Armistice Day, starting with the minute of silence observed at the 11th hour. Some in the high school grades joined other Europeans in ceremony at the British Cemetery, where more than 4000 British soldiers from World War I are buried. Others at Schutz used their half-day to go out to the high dunes east of Alexandria, or to visit Pompey’s Pillar. Some stayed on campus to play tennis. On Thanksgiving Day in the morning, the boarders went to church at the Egypt Mission church downtown. Early afternoon, all gathered for the day’s usual feast of turkey with trimmings, pies, cookies and fruit. The boarders were joined at the feast by the members of the Egypt Mission Alexandria station. An after-dinner program included skits and presentations by groups of boarders, a poetry recitation, and a talk on gratitude given by one of the attending missionaries.
Not quite 3 weeks later, Christmas was celebrated in advance of school closing and the boarders going home. At the beginning of the month, the high school and middlers began rehearsing a Christmas Cantata, which they performed on December 16th at the Alhambra, the main concert hall in downtown Alexandria. The concert was also performed at Schutz, with parents of day students invited; a visit from Santa Claus came at the conclusion, with gifts for everyone. The teachers saw to it that each subject studied this month had some focus on the season of winter, especially as it occurred in the United States. In art class, all students made gifts and Christmas cards, and studied paintings of the Madonna throughout history. On the last weekend before vacation, the boarding students had a Masquerade Ball at Saturday dinner. This event required everyone to come to dinner in a costume representing the title or a main character in a book. Boarders went around trying to guess the titles and characters, and a prize was given for the best costume. School let out on Friday, December 17th. All those who lived in Egypt went home by train, and those whose parents lived too far for them to return for vacation (in Sudan and Ethiopia) went home with friends and roommates to spend the holiday with their families. The Schutz School Committee scheduled a week of vacation for Easter. All the boarders returned home, and the 3 teachers took a much-needed break from school and boarding duties. In a repetition of the Christmas vacation, those whose homes were outside of Egypt spent the week with the families of their roommates and friends. The previous year, the school had celebrated the Egyptian spring holiday, Shem El Nesim, or Smell the Breezes, and perhaps they did the same this year, but no one remarked on the half day and any festivities accompanying the holiday.
The arrival of Miss McGonagha, Schutz’ 3rd teacher, affirmed the Mission Board’s sense of Schutz’s importance to the Egypt Mission. While her presence made it possible to decrease the ratio of students to teacher, her arrival seemed to increase the load of responsibilities the teachers and Mr. Roy carried throughout the year, because her participation allowed the teachers to take on more activities. While the pattern of supervised extra-curricular activities remained in place from 1926 to 1927, three new classes were added to the curriculum. On offer this year was a sewing class for the girls from 3rd grade through high school in which they learned various stitches and engaged in fancy work projects, a ‘construction’ class for boys in the same age stretch, in which projects they picked to make, like a deck of Rook cards, were made from scratch, and art classes for all grades, in which artists’ biographies and styles were studied, and seasonal crafts like Christmas cards and decorations were made.
The teachers lived on the boarding floors of the Schutz building, supervising after hours and providing ready help should any be needed. The teachers ate with the students at every meal, helped plan and provide oversight for major monthly events like the Masquerade Ball in December, the high school banquet in March, the debates conducted in the high school classes, and they filled in with ideas for engaging students when the need arose and the children’s own initiative flagged.
Mr. Roy, being the seasoned member of the Egypt Mission on staff, could speak and read Arabic, and so handled any arrangements needed for contact outside the Schutz compound. He was responsible for hiring and firing staff at the local level, and dealt with all the Egyptian staff. Some serving staff lived on campus in a building in the northeast corner near the wall. In the late winter this year, some of their clothing was stolen; Mr. Roy had the police come to inspect and record the matter, but without satisfying result. Later in the spring, the women who came to campus to do the school’s washing returned the following day to discover that boarders’ clothes and sheets drying on the lines on the roof had been stolen. Mr. Roy again called in the police, who again found no leads. The Schutz property had five gates in the walls that bordered Schutz Street to the south, Rue Mission Americaine to the west and Ishak Street to the north. Steps were taken this year to make sure all gates were locked at the end of the day. After the second theft, Mr. Roy hired a bowab, a night watchman who had minimal living quarters on campus, near the main gate on Rue Mission Americaine.
This year several boarders were ill enough to be hospitalized; Mr. Roy took one of them to the Presbyterian Hospital in Tanta. When the student’s high fever finally went down, Mr. Roy wrote home saying “We feel relieved for it means it was flu and not typhoid.” In this pre-penicillin era, life-threatening disease was a concerning possibility in any illness that the children developed.
Mr. Roy worked closely with the matron, Mrs. Harris, including efforts to make the boarders’ experience of Schutz as homelike as possible. Birthdays were celebrated with parties, picnics and special food chosen by the birthday girl or boy; parents’ concerns about medical or dental needs were transmitted to the matron through correspondence with Mr. Roy. He was the member of the School Board responsible for direct communication with parents about their children who were enrolled. One of the teachers that year, Elizabeth Kelsey Kinnear, noted in correspondence with A Meloy and C Weaver-Gelzer that “a few mothers did upset us by their visits,” one being a “worrier who often wrote to Mr. Roy with her concerns.” Sometimes a parent would visit Schutz and sit in on classes to see how things were going. Certainly Mrs. Harris’ work was scrutinized as much as the teachers’ work. Parents who visited would naturally look to see that the rooms were clean, the grounds neat, the clothes in order, the meals well balanced, discipline was maintained, good manners expected and good behavior insisted on, was one way parents of boarders could assure themselves they were still taking care of their children, even at a distance. Mrs. Harris was respected and valued by Mr. Roy, but in April she informed him she would be leaving her position to follow her husband and daughter, who had emigrated to the United States in the late winter. Mrs. Harris departed 3 weeks short of the end of the spring term. Mr. Roy then had to arrange coverage, and for this he turned to the mothers of boarders who could come to Schutz for a week at a time. Mrs. Ida Roy took the first turn at carrying the boarding department responsibilities. Mr. Roy, in the meantime, added the search for another matron to his Schutz responsibilities for the coming summer.
The first Schutz graduation took place at the end of May, 1927. The 11th grade was the end of high school for matriculation at Schutz; this remained so at Schutz for the next 30 years. The 11th grade had two girls, Mary McClanahan and Dorothy Walker, both of whose parents worked in the Egypt Mission, close enough to be present for the ceremonies. The first Commencement coincided with the end of the terms of service for both of the first teachers at Schutz. The celebrations were considerable. Schutz had a full ‘commencement week,’ including a baccalaureate service at which Mr. Roy preached, a faculty take-off, a music recital, school work exhibitions, and two graduation exercises, one for the high school, and one for the 8th grade middlers moving into high school. Elizabeth Kelsey’s father, Dr. Hugh Kelsey, was a member of the UPNA Foreign Board of Missions, and his Mission visit coincided with the Schutz graduation. He delivered the first Schutz Commencement speech.
On Monday of the last week of school, Mr. Roy arranged for a special picnic and sail boat ride for the Roys, the teachers and the two junior/senior graduates. They sailed in the Alexandria harbor, seeing much of the famous, ancient city from an excellent vantage point. Class pins were made by a local jeweler. Each one was a 24-ct gold pyramid engraved with “S.H.S ‘27” (Schutz High School). Miss Warne and Miss Kelsey were also each given a pin, but without the graduation date.
Dr. Kelsey escorted his daughter and Bernice Warne through Europe back to the United States, and meanwhile, at Schutz, Mr. Roy and Miss McConagha conducted the annual task of storing desks, books, blackboards and the partitions turning the flats into the boarding department, as they returned the Schutz building to its original use as a summer residence for vacationing members of the Egypt Mission.