Academics

In the era before the establishment of high schools, Mont Amoena filled the gap between common school education, which ended at grade seven, and normal (teaching) or business schools, and in later college. Many students attended for only one or two years and did not complete the course levels or graduate. In its early years, the seminary did not confer diplomas; instead, graduates earned certificates of completion.

When Mount Pleasant Female Seminary opened for the 1869-1870 term, the course of instruction encouraged student participation and served a broad range of ages. Administrators “classed” them according to their ability and students could not advance until they mastered the coursework. There was a Primary Department for juvenile students, a Junior Course, a Senior Course, and a two-year liberal Collegiate Department for those “who stayed long enough to graduate.” From the beginning, commercial studies received special attention so that “greater intelligence and independence may be secured to women in the management of business.” Ornamental branches were electives. The Senior Course had three literary branches: Latin, Greek, and French. The Collegiate Department was a preparatory two-year program. 

In 1891 the seminary was incorporated, granting it the power to confer degrees and “marks of literary distinction as are usually conferred by similar institutions of learning. The program now covered eight years: two Primary (equivalent to grades five and six), two Preparatory (equivalent to grades seven and eight), and four years in the Collegiate Department (equivalent to four years of high school). The Collegiate Department considered itself a “fitting school,” or feeder program for those wanting to attend college or normal school to earn a teaching degree. The liberal arts curriculum leaned heavily toward languages, mathematics and the natural sciences. Music and Art were still prevalent and available for an additional fee. The school considered the commercial branches of bookkeeping and penmanship as increasingly important and made them available at no additional charge.

Rev. R. A. Goodman oversaw a number of changes in the curriculum when the new building opened in 1913. He found it difficult for the school to live up to the rating of a junior college and so revised the curriculum to conform to that of a seminary rating. The new course of study reflected the format of a high school curriculum with Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior levels. It no longer offered a Collegiate Department. Graduating students received either a Classical Diploma, English Diploma, or Music Diploma. Some students graduated in different years with different diplomas. Electives included Elocution, Art, and Domestic Science.

 

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