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Gales Creek Schoolhouse

Gales creek schoolhouse 

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Gales Creek School District #30 was established and received its number in 1849.

This modern two-room school building, built in 1921, replaced the one-room school house that sat at the west end of the one acre school grounds. The builder is unknown.

One acre of land was donated to Gales Creek School District 30 by Savil W. Iler and Caroline (Lee) Iler. This acre was from a parcel of land Mrs. Iler had inherited from her father Phileman Lee’s land claim, #4576 SEP claim.

The two-room school building held the first through eighth grade classes until 1949, when a much larger building was built to the north. The younger grades were moved to the new building, while the 7th and 8th grade students remained at the two-room school. In 1956, two classrooms were added to the larger building and the 7th and 8th grades moved to the new rooms. The two-room building was then used for special classes: music, science and other events. In 1966, a room was built in its basement for use as a kindergarten.

In 1950 this building was dedicated as the Jennie Ranes Building. Jennie Hoodenpyle Ranes retired that year after having taught many years at Gales Creek School.

Since our Gales Creek Elementary school was closed in 2010, the building has been used as storage with what was originally the lower elementary classroom which is now a museum. The museum was created by Joyce (Shorb) Sauber with items shared at the Gales Creek School’s 150 Year Celebration in 2009.

Joanne (Day) Schmidlin and Nancy VanLoo along with parents of former students have contributed photographs and historic items for the school museum.

This two-room school building built in 1921 holds so many special memories of past and present Gales Creek Valley residents.

Memories of a Two-Room Schoolhouse by Joyce (Shorb) Sauber (written July 2021):

I began first grade at the two-room schoolhouse in the fall of 1941 all dressed up in a new dress and new shoes. My mom recorded that first day of school by taking a picture of me.

Looking my very best, I walked the half block to the school building. Even though I passed that building hundreds of times in my 6 years, it was an exciting day to think I could finally begin first grade. It was a scary day as I was a very shy little girl. It took all the courage I had to climb those steps to reach the front door of the school building and then the classroom door. Once inside, the teacher Mattie Gieger greeted the students, grades 1 – 4. She would be my teacher for three years.

I have a lot of very special memories of the first four years. I made a lot of great, special friends. I learned very little in grades 1 – 3 as these were World War II years and teachers were difficult to hire. 

Mrs. Jennie Ranes was our fourth grade teacher and those of us in the fourth grade were so fortunate to have her as our teacher. She basically taught us four years in one year. Mrs. Ranes brought us to grade level and beyond. She shared her love of reading and arts and crafts, along with manners and behavior. Mrs. Ranes also taught us an appreciation for music. She had a beautiful voice and played the piano.

She taught us new and challenging games at recess like Red Rover and Fox and Geese and sport games of basketball and baseball.

There was an enclosed play shed some distance behind the school building that we all played in at recess on rainy days. A couple of swings and a ball field were on the playground. Later on, those of us who had roller skates (the metal kind with a key to tighten them on your saddle shoes) could skate in the basement. I still have my metal roller skates, 80 years later.

Those first four years in the lower grade class were the foundation for our education. Thank you Mrs. Jennie Ranes for your dedication to teaching. Once or twice a month Mrs. Ranes would go to the Forest Grove City Library and check out books for students to read. Without you, many of us would not have completed school.

School plays at Christmas time were very special to the students and families. The folding doors were opened between classrooms which made one big, long room. A portable stage was placed at the north end of the upper classroom and a curtain hung from a wire across the room. This curtain could be pulled between acts. After each class had presented their play or song, Santa would arrive. Every student received an orange and candy, very special treats.

On Valentine's day each student decorated a shoe box to receive valentines. Anticipation was almost too much, waiting to open those valentines. 

Outdoor toilets located behind the play shed were a long walk, made even longer on snowy or rainy days or, at least, it seemed longer.

My elementary school years were during World War II. I remember collecting newspapers, tin cans, glass bottles and rolling tin foil into balls, all for the war effort. These items often filled the two storage rooms located inside the front entrance on either side of the front door.  

Upper class memories: Miss Flenner was our 5th Grade teacher. Mrs. Stanley, 6th grade and Mrs. Rose Woita, our 7th and 8th grade teachers.

These teachers were the upper elementary teachers with 5th and 6th grade in one room. By fifth grade most of us were pretty comfortable and familiar with the routine of school days in a two-room schoolhouse and boys became just a “little more interesting”.

Our 8th grade graduation was also held at the community hall. I believe we only had 6 or 7 kids in our graduating class. I remember decorating the hall with a scotch broom, a yellow flower that invaded every farm field and road side, but it was so bright and beautiful.

Small country schools were the center of rural communities. We knew every neighbor up and down the valley. Kids as well as their parents became life- long friends. Some of my classmates beginning in First grade at Gales Creek Elementary School have been lifelong friends to this day.

Until the fall of 1949, there were many one-room schools located up and down the Gales Creek Valley. The Gales Creek School built in 1921, was the only two-room school building in the valley. In 1949 all of the following little school districts -- Fir Creek, Wilson, Lyda, Jedmore and Peavine Ridge -- consolidated into the Gales Creek School District 30 with all the students from those other districts now coming to the new, much larger school building. That building only had six classrooms so the seventh and eighth grade students remained in the two-room school building, which since 1950 has been known as the Jennie Ranes Building.

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