My Fifth Grade Memories of Midland Elementary School

Midland School, a few years ago.  It is now torn down.

Midland School, a few years ago after being in disuse for many years. It is hard to imagine this school when it was just built for classes in 1961.

Before school began in September, I learned that my fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Newman. This was not good news. My brother had her for his sixth grade teacher three years before. From the discussions that I heard in our house. Mrs. Newman and my brother didn’t have a good relationship. Would I also face problems with Mrs. Newman?

Fifth grade would be my last year at Midland School. This did include some privileges such as becoming an “audiovisual boy.” This meant that at the beginning of school, I would deliver audiovisual equipment to the classrooms. Then at the end of the school day, I would get out of class ten minutes early to pick up the equipment. This equipment today would look like museum pieces. I would deliver filmstrip projectors, 16mm movie projectors, 16 mm movies, filmstrips and on occasion an opaque projector.

This was the "modern" movie projector which threaded when it worked properly.

This was the “modern” movie projector which threaded itself when it worked properly.

As school began, I didn’t find Mrs. Newman as difficult a person as my brother had stated. She didn’t seem to smile a lot, unlike my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Jung. She also seemed quite old and ready to retire. However, Mrs. Newman did teach me a lot of things. She helped me a lot with my spelling and math skills. She also had us do some group projects. One project that I did with three other students was on the subject of spices. She would allow us to go out in the hall and talk about our project. This was trust that I hadn’t known before in school. The spice project not only taught me a lot about spices, but also how to work with other students.

The worst part of my fifth grade experience was the SRA reading program. This program was a color coded curriculum that was supposed to help a student in their reading skills. You would read a short story and then answer the questions. I must not have been considered a good reader because Mrs. Newman started me in the color Aqua. This was only one level above Orange which was for the worst readers. Perhaps, the educators thought that by using colors, we wouldn’t discover how slow we were, but everybody knew the significance of each color.

Fifth grade was quite awkward for me because I had developed an overwhelming attachment for comic books. I would go to our corner store every week and buy several comics. After reading them, I would actually rate them from the best to worst. I even had a six-foot tall poster of Spiderman above my bed. He did a great job of protecting me each night!

With my attachment for comics, I would embarrass myself by attending school with a big sweatshirt that showed on the front and the back “The Incredible Hulk”. The front of the shirt had the words: “Here comes the Incredible Hulk”. The back of the shirt had the words: “There goes the Incredible Hulk”. Looking back, I can’t believe that I would wear such a thing.

I can't believe I wore this!

I can’t believe I wore this! This photo is from an Ebay ad.

One great thing about fifth grade was my involvement in the Highland Park Recreation Department baseball program. This is when we played “fast” pitch baseball with the other elementary schools in Highland Park. For some reason, Mr. Monroe, our gym teacher, made me the captain of the Midland One team. We didn’t have adult supervisors; so I had to figure the positions each person played and when they would bat. I was probably a lot like Charlie Brown except I preferred to play first base. This was a great opportunity to learn leadership skills at an early age.

When fifth grade was over, we had no graduation ceremony. The last day of school was simply the last day of school. My five years at Midland school was over. I entered the school not being able to read or do math. I didn’t understand any history when I entered the school and now I had an interest in history.  My writing skills were still far from perfect, but I could write complete sentences. I learned some grammar and phonics in the process as well. I still hadn’t learned to swim. That would happen later!

Those years at Midland School were good years. I am thankful for the teachers that dedicated themselves to teach me the many skills that I have today. I also treasure the friends that I made while there. Most of those friends left Highland Park by the time I would graduate from Highland Park High School in 1973.  Many of my classmates names and faces have been forgotten. My school photos of my friends have also disappeared.  However, many of my good memories of Midland School still remain!

P.S. Please visit my other blog at In this blog I look at various spiritual topics such as: “God’s Seven Medications for Pain”

9 thoughts on “My Fifth Grade Memories of Midland Elementary School

  1. Thanks for the memories of Midland. I was there from 1967 to 1972. I remember Mr Rogers, my 4th grade teacher, who was great and used to invite us to hi apartment in Palmer Park, Mr. Thompson for 3rd grade, and Mrs. Dodge, the music teacher. The principal was Mrs Seeds, formerly Mrs Rebbe, and the vice principal was Mrs Orchard, I think.

    • Thanks again for reading my blog. I hope to begin writing about Ford Middle School. It appears that you are several years younger than me. I went to Midland from 1961-66. I do remember Miss Rebbe, but I don’t remember your other teachers. I am glad for my time there!

  2. Things were similar on the southeast side of Highland Park at Barber School. One difference was that Barber transitioned from elementary school to middle school with my grade. This meant kids attended the same school for K-8. Also, we were the oldest grade in the school from fifth through eighth grades. This experience probably did something to my personality, along with being the oldest child in our family. It also made the transition to high school more difficult.

    • I never thought of always being the oldest grade in school for four years. I did know a few people at Barber because my cousins went there until they moved in 1966. I also remember playing football against Barber in Eighth Grade.

  3. Dear Mark, I went too Midland Elementary for five years. I remember Mrs. Jung and Mrs. Newman. I had Mrs. Jung as a teacher for fourth grade Do you remember Mrs. Hileman? I had her as a teacher for first grade. I had Mrs. Jones for second grade and Mrs. Cross for third grade. Mrs. Cross lived up to her name and was quite a character. Midland was such an urban school. At a later date, we moved to Royal Oak. I was totally awed by the playground and the baseball field. I was on the safety squad. I used to get a big kick out of making some of the boys go up and down the steps five or six times when they ran up the steps. I also remember having my teachers sending me down to the milk machines. Remember the milk machines? I believe it was two cents for white milk and three cents for chocolate. What street did you live on? We lived on Eason which ran between Second and Third. I loved the picture of your television set in your Christmas picture. Our television was real small. We had to lay on the floor to see it. I remember taking the bus over to Liberty School for swimming lessons. The bus driver was a real trip. I used to be a regular patron of the North Branch Library on Woodward and also a patron of the Highland Park Public Library. They have let that building fall into major league disrepair. I can’t stand to look at it when I drive by their. Do you remember Brown’s Creamery? How about Palmer Park? My father use to take us there to skate or he would buy us Cracker Jacks to feed the ducks. Palmer Park was the greatest.

    • Thank you Jennifer for reading my Highland Park blog. I do hope to continue writing some more posts in the future. I will be starting on my Ford School experiences. I must say I don’t remember Mrs. Hileman, but I do remember Mrs. Jones as a second grade teacher. Yes, the ride to Liberty was always a treat, but I hated swimming as you have probably read in my post. I also remember my Dad taking us quite often to Palmer Park. We would also feed the ducks Tidbits. As for Brown’s Creamery, I do remember going there a few times though it was a bit of a distance from our house on Candler Ave. (between Brush and Oakland). I went to Midland from 1961-66. For Kindergarten, I went to Ford School because Midland was still being built. Thanks for writing such a lengthy comment about the blog!

  4. I remember Mrs. Cross saying “you don’t want me to get like my name” I remember Mr. Monroe too. Did anyone else eat those lunches provided by the school? The only one I recall was chicken on a stick. They came in a tray, like a TV dinner. I also recall three milk machines: two plain and one chocolate, I think, near the gym (mulitipurpose room) across from the principal’s office. I did AV duty as well. Filmstrip projectors were small and the opaque projectors were huge. The filmstrips had a little beep that would tell you to advance tto the next frame, but some were automatic, I think. It was a big deal when the filmstrip would get out of sync with the narration.

    • Thanks Greg for your comments. I really never remembered much about Mrs. Cross, but thanks for sharing your memories about her. Yes, I do remember the milk machines as well. Very few students ever drank the white milk. The chocolate milk was the favorite. I remember maybe in fifth or sixth grade when the milk cartons had a brief biography about one of the presidents. Of course, the AV projectors were totally different than today! Do you remember the opaque projector? I need to write about my days as an AV boy. I have a photo that Mrs. Kaiser took of me in the AV room at Ford school.

  5. I was one year ahead of you until 1967, when we moved north of Eight Mile road. Same set of teachers. We played “ball” on the asphalt ball diamond alongside Ford School and lived accross the street on Midland.

    Steve Mancuso

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