Haines Elementary opened its doors when Woodrow Wilson was president and the world was reeling from the great influenza pandemic.
The school celebrated its 100th birthday on May 30 amid much fanfare — patriotic songs performed by students, a speech by an alumni and former principal, and reminiscing at the nearby Eastern Oregon Museum.
The celebration started at the museum, which was used as the school gymnasium from 1931 to 1945.
The museum opened in 1959, and is celebrating its 60th year with a special exhibit dedicated to rural schools of the area.
Donated items include yearbooks and PTA records.
“It’s so nice to have this history,” said museum volunteer Mary Jane Guyer.
Museum visitor Mac Kerns started first grade at Rock Creek School.
“We rode horses,” he said. “It was a mile and a half from our house.”
And then, as today, students had some playground shenanigans.
“We’d eat our lunch, save the waxed paper from our sandwiches, then use those to slide down the slide — it was slick,” he said.
Mac’s brother, Tim Kerns, also toured the museum.
Rock Creek School closed the year before Tim started school, so he attended Haines through sixth grade. (After 1945, students in grades 7 and up were bused to Baker or North Powder.)
One of Tim’s vivid memories is of the snowdrifts that made it impossible to get home one day. He stayed in town — the first time away from his parents.
“I was scared,” he remembered.
At 6:30 p.m. the events moved to Haines School where so many local residents, alumni and community members attended that nearly half the crowd stood during the ceremony.
The students, led by Russell Carpenter, sang patriotic songs accompanied by the Baker Community Orchestra.
Anthony Johnson gave the keynote speech of “Education Through the Decades.”
Johnson, who is now retired, is an alumni of Haines School and became principal there in 2004.
In his talk, he gave highlights from the school’s history woven with notable events during the last 100 years.
For instance: Elmetta Bailey York became the first woman to be county superintendent of schools in 1917 — three years before women had the right to vote.
The 1940s brought the U.S. into World War II, and in 1945 Haines was reduced to grades 1 through 6.
The 1950s brought color television, Disneyland and Elvis Presley. In 1955, Anthony Johnson’s dad, Ken, became principal of Haines.
Johnson continued through the decades of events, but always came back to the importance of education.
“I am ever mindful of the many wonderful teachers I had the good fortune of working with and the indelible influence they had on me and, more importantly, on the children of this community,” he said. “Each new school year brings to the Haines Elementary campus a new generation of students who represent the hopes and aspirations of their parents and the community, just like those a century earlier.”
He closed with this: “The faces of children and education may change over time, but the mission of the school remains the same. Happy 100th, Haines Elementary.”
Afterward, those in attendance were invited to tour the school’s hallways and rooms. Students prepared a number of displays for the milestone event, including artistic photos of the school by the sixth-graders.
Other classes spent time at the Eastern Oregon Museum to compare current life with that of 1919 in terms of clothing, family routines, buses and technology.