Latham School, 1912. Roy C. Andrews/University of Oregon Library
Latham School’s long story has reached its last chapter.
The current building dates back to 1922, but the large cost to bring the deteriorating building up to grade, along with declining student enrollment, made the decision – which had loomed for several years – inevitable. The South Lane School Board decided to close Latham School.
Described as the ”Little Big School,” Latham has had legions of families swear by the close-knit, intimate school community. My neighbor’s granddaughter had not been successful in several South Lane schools until she landed at Latham, where she blossomed.
In honor of those Latham families, staff and graduates, a committee has been working to give Latham a proper send-off. You are very cordially invited.
A community celebration is planned on Friday May 31, from 5-7 p.m., with an open house event during the first hour. The celebration will begin at 6:15 p.m.
Garrett Bridgens, communications coordinator for South Lane School District said, ”We want to honor the Latham families and staff and close the school with dignity.” It will be a special evening of sharing memories and stories, a video, speakers, and a chance to wander around the school.
There will be self-guided tours with various displays and interactive sites, including a passport to collect all stamps. Inside the library are a collection of historical photographs to peruse; there will be an opportunity to sign the Latham walls; and a professional photographer will be onsite.
Bridgens said to record memories – particularly if you can’t attend the event – by going to the SLSD website and click on the ”Share your favorite memory of Latham Elementary School” button.
The school bell, which is dated 1922, and has been there since the core of the current school was built, will be on display and rung at the end of evening to send Latham off lovingly.
”We want to bring closure to the school and the families who have found the school to be amazing for their children,” Bridgens said. ”We hope to provide a chance to say a special goodbye to a school which has served the rural community for well over a century and a half.”
Well, young eagles learning to soar, as Latham’s motto goes, I hope you soar high and land well in your new eyrie. Please come and bid a joyous farewell and experience a memorable celebration of a school that has served the folks of South Lane County since 1853.
Thank you Latham and we bid you a fond farewell!
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Dana Merryday is a Chronicle columnist for Through the Grove-Vine and can be reached at 541-942-7037 or vial email at [email protected]
A bit of Latham history
Subhead: Excerpts from ”Golden was the Past”
”Henry Small knew he was building the first school in the Coast Fork Valley when he chose a site on his farm in 1853. What he couldn’t know was that it would be in operation 140 (now 166) years later.
”… Mr. Small donated a southern corner of his Donation Land Claim No. 57 for a school. The first building is believed to be a log cabin. In about 1860 the old log structure was replaced by another building. It was a plain board structure between the river and the wagon road. When school was not in session, different church groups used it as a meeting place.
”In 1895 it was moved one and a half miles south to a spot now occupied by Weyerhaeuser Mill. The final move of the school was made in 1941 to its present location and continues as Latham School.”
– Calvin ”Cal” F. Davis, Latham teacher, 1952, principal, 1959