Back to the Future -The following is story extracted from LHS FALL/WINTER 2009 NEWSLETTER produced by the LHS class of 1959.
The “new” Jennifer Junior High celebrates its golden anniversary - October 18th, 2009. Fifty years ago the doors opened at Jenifer Junior High School with 615 students ready to begin classes in the new building along 16th Street in Lewiston. Many had lugged desks and books as part of the move from the old junior high, which was several blocks away.
"The students were excited about moving out of the old building," said former Jenifer teacher Marie Webb, 96, of Lewiston. "Before, they had to share things with the high school. They had their own gym at the new school."
Jenifer is still serving students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades. A community celebration of the golden anniversary will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in the school's gymnasium, followed by tours of the campus. The guest of honor is Webb, the only surviving member of the first faculty to teach at Jenifer.
Known as the downtown school, Jenifer was one of two new junior highs built in Lewiston 50 years ago. The construction began after district patrons passed a $1.5 million bond in 1957 with an 85 percent yes vote. The other new building, Sacagawea Junior High in the Orchards, opened on Aug. 30, 1959, and a similar anniversary celebration will be conducted there in the spring.
Jenifer's debut was delayed because of construction glitches. According to newspaper clippings and local historians, the first full day of classes was Oct. 19, 1959, and a dedication took place in November.
The school was named for former superintendent Joel Jenifer, who moved to Lewiston in 1901 as a math and science teacher. The Illinois native served as superintendent of schools from 1920 to 1929.
An old Lewiston Tribune article describing the school's dedication says Jenifer "bowed his whitened head in humility as more than 600 stood and
"It is a wonder to me that I should be so richly rewarded for work in the schools so distant - 30 years ago," Jenifer said at the time. "It is the greatest honor you could show me."
Jenifer's first principal was Harvie (Slug) Walker and the superintendent was C.L. Booth. The new, two-building campus had 22 classrooms, a library, cafeteria and gymnasium.
The square-foot cost averaged $12.25, including architect fees. Today those costs are estimated at anywhere between $175 and $250 per square foot, depending on location. Jenifer was built on property the district had owned since 1940, at the time Bengal Field was built.
The old junior high was used for storage and eventually torn down. It used to sit where the Lewiston High School science buildings are located.
The student population at Jenifer swelled to almost 950 in the late 1960s and early ' 70s,but it's now at 574.
"When the (Lower Granite and Dworshak) dams were being built, I had a couple of classes that ballooned to 52 kids per class," recalled retired teacher Larry Dean, who taught math and science. "We had a lot of families of construction workers. Some of the left-handed kids had to sit in chairs along the windowsill because we didn't have enough desks."
Steve Branting, a retired teacher and local historian, taught in the gifted program at the school for 28 years.
"I just think the world of Jenifer, as a school," he said. "It's a downtown school that pulls kids from a wide variety of backgrounds. It's a creative school. I really enjoyed the kids and the people who work there."
The building doesn't look exactly the same as it did on opening day, but the culture of doing what's best for kids hasn't changed over the past five decades, said current Principal JoAnne Greear.
"The staff was always looking at ways to make it a school where students learned and achieved. It wasn't what made their jobs easier, but it helped kids be successful in their learning and their future. I know that is still maintained today."
Back to the Future -
Lewiston's Sacajawea Junior High celebrates golden anniversary
By Kerri Sandaine of the Tribune
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Sacajawea Junior High's shiny new hallways first filled with students on Aug. 30, 1959. The new building in the Lewiston Orchards had an enrollment of about 488 students at the time and a staff of 21 teachers.
"There was a lot of excitement when the school opened," said June Moulton, 85, who taught physical education there for 28 years. "People were looking forward to it."
The school, which is still serving students in grades seven through nine, is celebrating its 50th anniversary at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Sacajawea gymnasium. Memories of the past five decades will be shared at the event. Sacajawea was one of two new junior high schools built in Lewiston in the late 1950s. Construction began after district patrons passed a $1.5 million bond in 1957 with an 85 percent yes vote. The other building, Jenifer Junior High, celebrated its golden anniversary last fall.
The first principal at Sacajawea was Clen Wallace, a district veteran, and the superintendent was C.L. Booth. The current enrollment is 570, and Principal Phil Uhlorn has been at the helm for the past seven years. "It's not a business; it's almost like an extended family," he said of the school's close-knit atmosphere.
Uhlorn and a committee of retired teachers have been working on the anniversary program for several months. They reminisced about their days at the school with fondness as they pored over old photographs and yearbooks.
Fred Schmidt, 73, a retired teacher, recalled having 36 students in a class at one time and no prep periods. "It was a great place to work," he said. "The faculty and office staff really made it fun. It was a wonderful 28 years for me. Looking back and seeing those kids I taught is very special."
"We did so many different activities, as time and weather permitted," Moulton said. "We played everything from deck tennis to drop the handkerchief. It was more about having fun, participating and finding something the kids could do later on in life."
She and three other original staff members are still living in the area, including teachers Dick Riggs and Kay Kalbfleisch, both 77, and Elvaleen King, the school secretary.
King said the school opened before the wiring in the office was completed. "We went two months before all the lights worked," she recalled.
Kalbfleisch, who taught at the school for eight years, noted several changes. "I remember you could use the paddle with discretion. We read the Bible first period every morning. Most of us wore ties and dressed up at the time. We were expected to take tickets at ball games and other activities without pay. We didn't have phones in the classrooms or computers. We used ditto machines."
After 33 years of teaching at Sacajawea, Rich Gillespie, 74, said he remembers all of the sports teams and the faculty. His daughter, Karen Forsman, is a current teacher at the school.
Jay Shafer, 74, also taught in the Lewiston School District for 33 years. "This is where my heart is," he said of Sacajawea.
"I remember the nice, new building and how half of the staff from the old junior high moved up there," Riggs said. "I was teaching with some of the teachers who had taught me. I was the first baseball coach and assistant football coach. Our football boys had to practice on the grass at Orchards Elementary the first year. We had to line out a diamond in the weeds and brush for baseball."
Many of the people gathering this week to salute Sacajawea Junior High remember the friendships they developed at the school and the children who have over the years filled the playground and desks.
"A lot of us taught together a lot of years," said Delores Schmadeka, 77. "I enjoyed the kids and seeing them mature and develop. Those were real good years. I'm glad I taught junior high."