NORMAN — They had names like Grotts, Rocky Point, Rose Hill, Spring Hill, Highland, Banner, Pleasant Hill, Liberty and New Hope. Those who recognize these names are no longer children. Most of the county’s rural school buildings are gone, the victims of progress or vandalism.
Those who attended the schoolhouses will gather Oct. 6 for their annual all-school reunion but this time they have a mission: Place permanent markers at the site of all 77 early-day Cleveland County schoolhouses.
“We’re excited about this. We’ve had a committee identifying all of the rural school sites,” said Joyce Carle, who attended Highland School and is one of the organizers of the reunion. “We already have a lot of people who will fund signs at certain schools. Hopefully they’ll be safe and stay there for a long time.”
Carle said a committee has identified locations of all of the schools. Some are now private residences and they need permission from the owners to sink a post and put up a sign that names the school and identifies the years the school operated.
Schools were located every three miles so children would not have to walk farther than a mile and a half to attend. Most closed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Some of the county school records have been lost. Many remain at the Cleveland County Genealogical Society library.
“Some of it got tossed away. But there’s still a lot there.”
The reunion will be Oct. 6, at the Etowah Baptist Church, a mile east of 180th Avenue SE on Etowah Road. Guests are welcome to go to the church at 10:30 a.m. A potluck dinner will be at noon in the fellowship hall and the program starts at 1:30 p.m. There will be music, singing and storytelling. Also, there will be refreshments following the program.
My own family homesteaded in southeast Cleveland County. The kids attended Banner School until they moved to Norman and my grandfather and his siblings attended St. Joseph Catholic School.
Remnants of some of the schools remain but more parts are lost every year.
In the 1960s and 1970s my parents voted at the Grotts School, near 12th Avenue NW and Franklin Road. The school is gone now but a grove of trees and a cellar remain as reminders of what was once a thriving schoolhouse serving children of all ages.