The Secret School Summary & Study Guide

Avi (author)
This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Secret School.
This section contains 653 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Secret School Summary & Study Guide Description

The Secret School Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Secret School by Avi (author).

This novel for young people is the story of a group of schoolchildren in Colorado in the1920s, who take matters into their own hands and educate themselves when their school is temporarily closed. As fourteen-year-old temporary teacher Ida and her fellow students struggle to keep their secret and continue their education, the narrative also explores issues relating to the power of perseverance and the importance of self-reliance.

On what seems to be a normal school day, the intelligent and academically ambitious Ida is shocked to discover that because of their teacher suddenly being called away, all the classes at the local school are being cancelled. Ida worries that the closure, six weeks before the end of the school year, will mean she will be unable to take an important series of exams that would, if she passed them, enable her to go on to high school and then to college. When the opinionated chairman of the school board (Mr. Jordan) suggests that education isn't necessary for young women and refuses to bring in a substitute teacher, at the suggestion of her good friend Tom, Ida agrees to take over the teaching of the school herself.

After successfully confronting a couple of initial challenges, Ida soon settles into an effective routine. She struggles to maintain a balance between her classroom duties and her responsibilities on the family farm, but she has the support of both her parents and the rest of the students and is able to keep going. One day, however, a representative from the county education office (Miss Sedgwick) arrives, and Ida is forced to reveal to her the nature of the situation. Miss Sedgwick goes away to consider her options, eventually returning a couple of weeks later with a decision - that the school can continue running as it is, but only if everyone agrees and only if everyone passes an exam at the end of the year. Ida and the students nervously agree.

The last few weeks of the term are taken up with frantic studying by all the students and an exhausting routine of chores, teaching and studying for Ida. As the date appointed by Miss Sedgwick for the exams approaches, however, Mr. Jordan discovers what the students have been secretly doing, and shuts down the school. For a while Ida is in despair, but when she learns that Mr. Jordan is arranging a meeting to shut down the school permanently and that only those parents who oppose the school are being invited, she resolves to confront him, and with Tom's help, she prepares herself, the other students, and the community.

On the night of the meeting, Mr. Jordan is surprised to see how many people are there, and is equally surprised when most of the people present seem inclined to support Ida, who speaks with eloquent passion of why she and the other students are doing what they're doing. Mr. Jordan and the board agree that the school can stay open, but only under certain conditions. Ida and the other students, as well as the members of the community, all agree, and Ida's frantic routine continues.

On the day of the exams, Miss Sedgwick returns to supervise their writing. At first Ida is somewhat nervous for both herself and her students, but is quickly able to settle down and get focused. A week later, the exam results arrive and Ida is thrilled to learn that not only has she passed, but that all her students but one have also passed. Ida is equally thrilled with Miss Sedgwick's offer to let Ida stay with her while she is away from home in high school.

The novel concludes with Ida, having been congratulated by her parents for her success, preparing for a busy summer of work on the farm before she goes off to achieve her dream of a high school education in the fall.

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