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MailTribune.com
  • Ruch Community School Turns 100

    Its centennial celebration Saturday includes tours, historic displays, food booths, music and storytelling
  • RUCH — The community's school will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 17 with tours, displays of historic artifacts and photos, storytelling, a time capsule burial, music and food booths. The school was dedicated May 16, 1914.
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    • If you go
      What: Ruch Community School 100th anniversary celebration
      When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17
      Where: Ruch Community School, 156 Upper Applegate Road, Jacksonville
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      If you go
      What: Ruch Community School 100th anniversary celebration

      When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17

      Where: Ruch Community School, 156 Upper Applegate Road, Jacksonville
  • RUCH — The community's school will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 17 with tours, displays of historic artifacts and photos, storytelling, a time capsule burial, music and food booths. The school was dedicated May 16, 1914.
    Restoration of a cupola for the school's bell is part of the anniversary-year celebration that will see the school's original one-room building become a community center.
    "Help Us Ring Our Bell" is the theme for the project, says Ruch Principal Julie Hill.
    Ruch's parent-teacher organization and student body are raising funds to restore the long-gone cupola and its original bell, which now sits on a makeshift foundation. The building will be rededicated as the Ruch School Community Center and be used for meetings, conferences and celebrations.
    While the building will remain Medford School District property, it will be available for community use. Students attend classes in several other buildings.
    "It now serves as our staff room," says Hill. "We are kind of taking (the interior) down to reflect what was there 100 years ago,"
    About half of the estimated $20,000 needed for the cupola has been raised, says Hill. She hopes the rest will be raised in the near future and the project put out to bid in a couple of months. No district funds are being spent on the restoration.
    Volunteers have performed interior work, but more donations of labor, materials, furniture and equipment for a working kitchen are needed.
    Ed "Hawkeye" Hawkins, 90, who attended the school for three years beginning in 1934, plans to be at the celebration. He's been telling students about its history one Wednesday per month.
    "All that was taught was the basics," says Hawkins. "You had to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling and geography."
    Just one teacher taught eight grades, usually about 35 pupils, says Hawkins. He was the only fifth-grader the year he started, so the teacher advanced him to the sixth-grade group.
    Hawkins met his wife, Irene, who died in 2007, when they were both students at the school. His nickname began there and he's been called Hawkeye ever since.
    Hawkins also served as janitor while a student, earning $5 per term to chop wood and keep the fire going, fill kerosene lamps, clean blackboards, maintain the outhouses and other duties.
    No school buses ran in Hawkins' day, so he had to walk three miles from his home on Bishop Creek. He got up early to first milk the neighbor's cows, then headed to the school to prepare it for the day.
    Hawkins graduated from eighth grade and in 1941 enlisted in the Navy, where he had a 40-year career, first as a machinist's mate, then as a counselor.
    About 40 other alumni have registered on a website so far.
    "We'll set up a storytelling booth so they can tell what it was like to go to Ruch School," says Hill. "They'll also take pictures of alumni and put them into this year's school book."
    Horseshoes, gold panning, face painting, a community garden planting and old time fiddlers will be part of the celebration. Local organizations will also take part.
    Ruch Community School serves 211 kindergarten through eighth-grade students in the Upper Applegate Valley. When closure was threatened in 2004, a campaign kept the school open.
    Proceeds from a May 2 jog-a-thon will go toward the community center project. For more information, call the school at 541-842-3850 or email Hill at julie.hill@medford.k12.or.us. Alumni are asked to register at www.medford.k12.or.us by clicking on Ruch School and then Reunion Celebration.
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
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