Former students and educators share memories of Manderson
BY KYNLI SMITH
For 60 years, the school in Manderson has been opening its doors to students and helping them learn and grow.
At the end of the school year, Cloud Peak Middle School closed its doors. At the eighth-grade graduation May 23 former students, teachers and administrators shared their memories of the school at a reception.
“The school is not the building,” said former student and teacher Lin Doyle in his speech. ”It is the people who make the school. Throughout the years the schools have had a history of excellent teachers and staff. That isn’t to say there weren’t some weird ones along the way, but overall they have been exemplary.”
Manderson and Hyattville high schools were consolidated in 1954. Students attended school in the old Manderson school building, which was located by the park in town.
“Our class started as freshmen in this building in 1957,” said Doyle. “Along with the upper grades, we were the first to utilize the building. At the end of the year the annual shows 79 students in the four grades. Our class has the distinction of being the first to attend all four grades and graduate from the new building.”
Eleven years after Doyle graduated, he returned to teach in that same building. He said at the time more than 40 students in the four grades made up the Manderson-Hyattville High School.
The school continued as a high school until about 1976, according to Doyle, and then the seventh and eighth grades from Manderson and Hyattville were brought to the school to form a junior high.
Doyle added, in the early 1980s the Manderson Elementry School was determined to be unsafe so a bond was presented to add onto the high school to accommodate the Manderson Elementary students. After the bond issue was passed, the administration and board presented a plan to consolidate the high schools into Basin and form a middle school in Manderson. The plan failed with a tie vote from the school board.
Doyle also reflected on the building’s quirks like the 22 steps on the front stairs and 21 on the back, a ladder above the stage and a pit on the south side.
The school continued on as a high school/junior high school with the elementary school arrangement until 1987 when the high schools in Manderson and Basin were consolidated and Cloud Peak Middle School for grades 6-8 was formed in Manderson.
That year marked the last graduating class for Manderson-Hyattville High School. In 1988 the newly formed Riverside High School had its first graduating class.
In the early 1990s fifth grade was also moved out to be a part of the middle school in Manderson.
Doyle added that the schools in the Manderson school building have produced many successful students.
“I recall one chemistry class whose students went on to be a surgeon, two teachers, one of whom is a state legislator, an executive vice president for a state agriculture organization and a lawyer who became a judge,” said Doyle. “Each of you has the potential to become one of these success stories. I learned long ago not to underestimate or judge the potential of students. No matter what you have accomplished here the future is open to you.”
Former principal Becky Allred also spoke during the ceremony about her time at the school. Allred and her husband, Sherman, began teaching in Manderson in 1969.
“We were the two teachers on the second floor, with him teaching math and science and me teaching English, history and geography,” said Allred.
Allred became principal in 2001 until she retired in 2007.
“For six years this was my home year round, for many hours,” said Allred. “Working with great kids, parents and the whole staff. Keen minds, energetic thoughts and bodies, support from parents, family, staff and community, plus all the state, helped this school to succeed, which will leave young minds forever mirrored with life experiences, life challenges, a strong unity never to be forgotten as the doors of this building close and educating moves to Basin. But whenever you pass through this unique and community-blended town, an important niche of your life will burn strong in your thoughts and beat proudly in your hearts.”
According to Superintendent Dave Kerby most of the teachers have boxed up and moved out a lot of their classrooms.
There will be some minor changes to Riverside High School in Basin before the some 100 Cloud Peak students move in.
“We would like to sell the Manderson building,” said Kerby. “It is in the budget to be demolished, but we would love to have someone come in and have a serious look at it.”
The district has hit a few bumps in the road to building the new schools. According to Kerby, they are waiting for approval to get 95 to 100 percent of the design completed. The district hopes to break down in late August and could possibly have students in the buildings a year from December. But mostly it will be two years before students are able to use the buildings.
“We intend to use the Manderson building for sports like basketball and volleyball this next year for practices and games,” said Kerby. “Until the new facility is built there are no plans to tear it down.”