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To the Editor:
The picture of the old Orrick School in the Thursday, July 11 edition brought back many memories. I was a member of the Class of 1954, the last class to graduate from the old Orrick High School. The new high school opened that fall.
My mother and father, Reba and Bert Creason, were both graduates of the OHS Class of 1931 and attended the old school. My mother’s basketball team played on an outdoor court behind the school. The outhouses were also located behind the school and were still in use on the last day of school in 1954!
The school used only two floors when I was there. There were seven classrooms, a board room/office combination, and a large center two-story hall with double open staircase to the second floor.
A bit of history: Missouri closed most of its one-room country school houses in the summer of 1948 and consolidated them into larger elementary schools located in nearby communities. At the time, Orrick’s elementary school had four classrooms and a kitchen/cafeteria located in the basement.
With the consolidation of six or eight country schools into the Orrick District (Centennial, Missouri Valley, Hall, Egypt, and, I believe Fleming, as well as two or three more), additional classrooms were needed.
In the fall of 1948, grades 1-4 were housed in the existing elementary school; grades 5-6 were at the Orrick City Hall (then one large room, not partitioned as it is today); and my seventh grade and the eighth grade were taught by Mrs. Mabel Rush McGaugh in the northwest classroom on the second floor of the high school – we thought we were “big stuff!”
Construction on a four-room addition to the elementary school was completed during the school year, and all eight grades were housed in the combined building in the fall of 1949. The addition included a large cafeteria and new kitchen in the basement.
During the 1949-50 school year, a new gymnasium was constructed adjacent to the elementary school. With the opening of the new gym, OHS again offered a basketball program for boys and girls (most of us had never even seen a basketball game!)
I remember participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new high school as a member of the student council and also, as a senior, walking the football field as a member of Supt. Burl Carpenter’s four-student geometry class to mark the location of the new lights to be installed. I’m assuming the first night football games were played in the fall of 1954 when the new high school building opened.
I’m not sure when the old school building was sold and converted to apartments. After graduation I was more interested in college activities and Elvis than following real estate transactions. I do hope that the building is still in good condition and could be used as outlined in the News article.
As a graduation gift to the school, the classes of 1954 (last class to graduate from the old building) and 1955 (first class to graduate from the new building) erected the brick columns that stand at the entrance to the current school grounds/parking lot. The plaque for “Class of 1954” was still on one column when I attended a reunion in 2009.
Hope this information will be of interest to some of your readers, if only for nostalgia. One could probably “look it up,” but I’m pretty sure it is mostly accurate because “I was there, Charlie!”
– Christa Creason Elter