01 Sep — 2021
Schools on Bering Island

On June 9/21, 1888, Bering, Medny and Tyuleniy Islands (Sea of Okhotsk) were separated into an independent Commander District within the Primorsky Region. From that moment on, the village of Nikolskoye became the official administrative center. And in the same year the first school was formed.

Аптека и школа. 1912.

Pharmacy and school. 1912.  Nikolskoe Village 1912: Pharmacy (foreground), school (behind). N.A.Tatarenkova. "Toponyms of the Commander Islands" (2018) with reference to Russian Archive of Naval Forces. F. R-2241. Series 1. Storage unit 16.

By the decision of the Holy Synod of February 17, 1887, an independent parish was formed on the Commander Islands with a clergyman of a priest and a psalmist. In the summer of 1888, the first priest arrived. It was Adrian Ivanovich Serikov, a native of the Krasnoyarsk Volost (in 1887 he visited Bering Island for a short time). Serikov arrived in Nikolskoye with his wife, Rimma Zakharovna. Later his brother Ippolit, a pupil of the Kazan Teachers' Institute, and his sister Nadezhda joined them. In November 1888, Serikov founded a parish school. He trained 30 to 40 people. For example, in 1892 there were 25 boys and 10 girls (with a total population of about 360 people).

Before that, the children were taught by a creole Fedor Fedoseevich Volokitin. Fedor was born around 1825 in the family of a Russian tradesman and an Aleut woman, most likely from  Atka Island. The boy received his basic education in the Orthodox school organized on the same island by priest Jacob Netsvetov. After graduating from school, Fedor entered the service in the Atka office as a clerk. Later M.D. Tebenkov appointed him the chief ruler of the Russian-American company on the Commander Islands. In 1847,  Fedor arrived on  Bering Island.  His family moved with him: father, mother and, most likely, the young wife Alexandra.

At first Fedor Fedoseevich was a clerk at the manager of  Bering Island - Vasily Efimovich Berezin. In 1862-1867 and 1869, the duties of the manager lay on Volokitin himself. For 18 years (from 1847 to 1865), he was at the same time the head of the Bering Innokentyevskaya chapel. In the absence of the priest, with the blessing of the church, Fedor performed services and often baptized newborns. For many years of conscientious work, according to the decree of His Imperial Majesty, Fedor Volokitin was awarded the Certificate of Commendation. The only local to be honored with such an honor.

Школьники гуляют с учительницей по центральной улице

Nikolskoye  Village: school and students, 1937 (Alan May, Ales Hrdlicka's expedition, Alaska's Digital Archives. University of Alaska Anchorage)

In the 1880s, Volokitin supervised the fur trade as an agent for the American trading company Hutchinson, Kool and Co. We do not know how long Fedor Fedoseevich was engaged in teaching practice. But judging by the respect with which both the population and the leadership treated him, he tought for quite a long time. Usually at school he had 15-18 people aged from 6 to 22 years old. The old man died in August 1888.

At least until 1893, classes were held in the building of the Innokentyevskaya chapel. The dilapidated building suffered from an earthquake, and the students were transferred for some time to the first District Administration - the building bult in the 1870s was not preserved till today. It stood next to the company's Administration building closer to the mouth of Gavanskaya  RIver.  By 1895, a real school was built - between the church and the pharmacy.

Учитель и ученики позируют перед камерой в Никольской школе

Teacher and students pose for the camera at Nikolskoye school

After the establishment of Soviet power, the wives of the commanding officers, the chiefs of the commander's trade, worked as teachers for some time. In autumn of 1922,  the chief of the committee P.M. Koltanovsky came to Bering Island. His wife taught until 1924. Until recently, the old-timers remembered Lydia Ippolitovna Kulagina, the wife of Konstantin Kulagin, the head of trade committee, a school teacher and cultural worker of Bering Island (1925-1928). She was remembered as a creative person who developed her own teaching methodology. The Aleuts have always loved to learn and were drawn to knowledge, but some disciplines were difficult. When it was difficult for children to memorize a rule or a word, she taught them to memorize it in a chant. The children "sang" the assignments.

Over the years, the school has changed its names and statuses more than once - it was a first stage, seven-year, basic and boarding school. But in all years she was invariably famous for her teachers and graduates.

Главная улица с. Никольского

Main street of Nikolskoye Village

Those wishing to get acquainted with the life of the 1930s and the early Soviet school on Medny Island can find an article by N.A. Tatarenkova “Through the pages of Oksana Lvovna Barabash's letters ”. The article was published in the 30th issue of the almanac “Kamchatka. Literature. Local History. 2020».


Author:  Natalya Aleksandrovna Tatarenkova, Head of Historical and Cultural Heritage Preservation Department of the Federal State Budgetary Institution "State Natural Biosphere Reserve" Komandorsky "named after S.V. Marakov".

Заповедная Россия English

Заповедная Россия English