Photo by Tony Halford
Former Schuebel School classmates Heather Cornett, Salaina Hays and Amy Huntley share laughs over old school photos at their school reunion Saturday. Click on the photo to view more.
Former students at Beavercreek’s rural Schuebel School relived memories and reconnected with childhood friends while wandering the halls and rooms of their old school last Saturday.
Although the building has sat vacant for about a decade now, it’s still full of reminders of past school days with furnishings stacked in the gym and books still lining some classroom shelves.
The school closed in the mid-1990s after local school districts consolidated to form Molalla River School District in 1993. MRSD still owns the school and Superintendent Wayne Kostur agreed to open the grounds for the reunion of past students and teachers.
Schuebel School was first formed around 1881, educating generations of Beavercreek area children in grades 1-8 before sending them to Molalla High School to complete their studies.
The Schuebel building, located on S. Schuebel School Road, housed an alternative school after the grade school closed down, but it closed around 2000-01. MRSD listed the property for sale at one point, but it is not currently on the market. Kostur said the school board will likely discuss what to do with the Schuebel property at an upcoming meeting.
The idea for the reunion was sparked when Terrie (Meissel) Stafford, who graduated from eighth grade at Schuebel in 1980, reconnected with a former classmate on Facebook.
Stafford then got in touch with Julie Ross, a former teacher at Schuebel, and they began contacting past students and staff members through Facebook, organizing the July 9 reunion.
On Saturday, Schuebel students recounted memories of a simpler time — when party lines were still used for telephone service and teachers frequently paid home visits. Because the population was small, two or three grades were combined in one classroom.
“We were a very close-knit group of kids from the youngest to the oldest,” Stafford said. “We fought on the playground, but at the end of the day, we all walked home from school together.”
Stafford and her siblings lived about a mile from the school and walked each day with a group of classmates, rain or shine. When the rains poured, they wore plastic garbage bags, she said.
The school did not have a hot lunch program, although teachers and parents began organizing weekly hotdog lunches in the 1970s that many students remember looking forward to. Ice Cream Fridays were also a popular tradition.
Stafford said teachers would pack extra lunches and snacks in case some children came to school empty-handed and also helped families in need get clothing and shoes. For field trips, they loaded up into teachers’ cars and it wasn’t uncommon to invite a teacher over for dinner.
Since Schuebel was its own school district at that time, the principal also served as superintendent and wore many other hats as well. Linda Rabe, who served as the principal’s secretary from 1983 until Schuebel closed and also coached softball and volleyball, remembers Principal Fred Proett tackling everything from building repairs to cooking Thanksgiving turkeys for their traditional community meal.
She remembers one year when the youngest students gathered on the stage with signs spelling a Thanksgiving greeting, but they went up in the wrong order, resulting in a backwards message.
Halloween was also a big event at the school, Rabe remembers. Since trick-or-treating was difficult in such a rural community, the school hosted a carnival for students. Community members brought their bags of Halloween candy to the school to be divided into paper goodie bags for each child to take home.
“It’s a lot of good memories,” Rabe said.
Rabe remembers meetings getting heated when the decision was made to consolidate the districts and later close Schuebel School, but she said asbestos concerns in the building coupled with a small student population made keeping it open unaffordable.
Peter McHugh, who served as principal and superintendent of the school from 1975 to 1977, remembers Schuebel’s gym frequently flooding during games. They drilled holes in the floor to help with drainage and used squeegees to push out the water.
As a small school, the Schuebel Sharks were sometimes at a disadvantage when their sports teams played larger rural schools such as Clarkes.
McHugh remembers losing badly to Clarkes one year in flag football, but returning the following year determined to improve.
“We actually had real uniforms with numbers on them and real flags, not pieces of sheets tied to us,” McHugh said. “We ended up tying 12-12 at Clarkes … You’d think we had won the Super Bowl.”
D’Ann (Hawke) Horrocks, who graduated from eighth grade at Schuebel in 1976, remembers playing every sport offered — including flag football — and said the experience gave her confidence about trying new things.
She went on to play sports throughout high school and competed in basketball and track in college.
“My experiences here really paid off,” she said. “Schools are so narrow anymore. You’re on one track and there’s no room to explore.”
She credits one of her Schuebel teachers, Julie Ross, as the reason she herself chose a career in teaching.
Horrocks remembers Ross as the first teacher she viewed as a regular person — someone she could talk to about life, not just schoolwork.
“When you were a kid you thought all teachers were these big authoritarians who looked for the bad things,” Horrocks said. “I just remember realizing as a teacher that you could touch so many lives.”
Now, the legacy Ross left continues, as Horrocks’ own two daughters are studying to become teachers themselves.
Ross taught at Schuebel from 1972 to 1977 and has worked to make contact with many of her past students. Sadly, she said she knows of at least nine students who attended Schuebel during her years there who are now deceased — lives cut short by car accidents and other tragedies.
Ross also has many memories of her days at Schuebel, including the time an eighth grade boy made an offhand comment about a classmate’s barn burning across the street. Thinking the boy was teasing, she was surprised to look out the window and see smoke.
“We stood here and watched the barn burn,” she said.
She also remembers struggling to get the older boys to take school fire drills seriously. The staff set off smoke bombs inside the school for their next fire drill — successfully curing the eighth graders of their nonchalant attitude during drill.
Craig Bomgardner, another former student, ranks his years at Schuebel among the best in his education.
“There was a small enough group of people here that everyone was tight,” Bomgardner said.
Several classes remember burying time capsules on the school property and Stafford had hoped to unearth them at the reunion. They were unable to dig them up Saturday, but she hopes to return to the school grounds later to do some searching.
They also hope to host another Schuebel reunion in five years and plan to maintain the Facebook pages so classmates can stay connected. Photos from the reunion can be found on Facebook under “Schuebel School” and “Schuebel School Reunion.”