Former Students Want People to Remember Where the One Room Schools Once Stood

Great State
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NOBLE, OKLAHOMA -- Crumbling rock walls hide in the tall grass with old foundations and sidewalks that lead to no where.

Of the 70 rural school that dotted the map of Cleveland County for more than half of the 20th Century, this is most of what is left now along with a few WPA built storm cellars, a few lonely buildings, and one small group of people hoping their school memories don't fade away.

"It will all be forgotten if we don't get something done now," says Joyce Carle, who grew up attending the old Highland School about a mile from where she lives now.

A few years ago Joyce and another lifelong county resident, Lenora McCalip got to talking at one of the reunions for Cleveland County's rural schools.

As they fell one by one to decay or arson, they thought it might be nice to at least mark the spots where those schools once stood.

Carle points out, "In the future, our kids and grand kids, some of them are going to be interested in genealogy. They're going to want to know where their grandma or great grandma went to school."

Lenora's husband Norman was an easy recruit to the cause.

Then more and more former students got on board too.

The plan was simple.

Place small signs at every rural school site in the county.

"We're the generation that really, really loved our rural schools," Joyce says.

Joyce remembers her old Highland School, it's rock walls and dirt basketball court.

She still has a photograph of herself and a sister standing in front of it.

What's left now is a storm shelter and a few quarried stones in a pile.

Joyce, Lenora and Norman took me to where the Etowah school once stood, to the Banner School site, and to Twelve Corners, so named because the old school building actually had that many corners on it.

From the early 1900's clear into the 50's and 60's these kinds of schools were an early home to just about every Oklahoma kid.

The schools in Cleveland County, while nearly gone, will not be forgotten.

Joyce and Lenora's group has raised enough money and support to place 20 school signs as of March, 2015.

They hope to start placing them later in the Spring.

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