The boarding schools had what came to be called the "half and half" system where students spent half of the day in the classroom and half at a work assignment or "detail" on the school grounds. The academic curriculum included courses in . history, geography, language, arithmetic, reading, writing and spelling. Music and drama were offered at most schools. Young women spent either the morning or the afternoon doing laundry, sewing, cooking, cleaning and other household tasks. Older girls might study nursing or office work. The young men acquired skills in carpentry, blacksmithing, animal husbandry, baking and shop. They chopped firewood to keep the steam boilers operating. The work performed by students was essential to the operation of the institution. The meat, vegetables and milk served in the dining room came from livestock and gardens kept by the students. The girls made and repaired uniforms, sheets, and curtains and helped to prepare the meals.