Oak Glen School House finally gets long awaited ribbon-cutting

Members of the Oak Glen School House Museum and Park Association, who spearheaded the building of the school house, cut the ribbon to mark its grand opening.

Jan Fitzpatrick arrived at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the restored Oak Glen School House with one idea in mind.

“My mother taught in a one-room school house,” said the Yucaipa resident.

She wasn’t a member of the Oak Glen School House Museum and Park Association, the nonprofit behind the 15-year project to replicate the original school house, or one of several local dignitaries at the Aug. 3 ceremony. Fitzpatrick just wanted to see what it would have been like for her mom back in the early 1900s.

“This is so exciting,” Fitzpatrick said as she waited to enter the one-room schoolhouse.

With desks for about a dozen students, a potbelly stove and a small blackboard in the front of the room, the crowd of about 100 was asked to take turns in the school house.

Sheila Hansberger thumbed through the attendance logs, sitting on one of the desks, of past Oak Glen students.

“I am looking for my aunt. She would have attended school here about 1927,” she said, about the time of some of the logs. “I don’t see her name, but I am looking at all of these old names.”

Parrish, Webster and Wilshire were a few of the names Hansberger pointed out. As the wife of former San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, Sheila is well-versed in the history of Oak Glen and wanted to check out the completed school house.

Dawn Rowe, Third District Supervisor, did not attend but was represented by Heather Perry. Calimesa Mayor Pro Tem Linda Molina and Sharon Bannister, board member of the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District, were also present at the morning ceremony.

“I think it’s beautiful,” board member Paul Plaxton said after the ceremony about the school house, which is situated among several oak trees between the museum and playground.

“I think what teachers had to go through then to be a teacher,” he said, perhaps comparing it to his own days as a history teacher.

Both Paula Taylor, president of the nonprofit association, and Helmi Merkley, a key board member in the restoration project, thanked those who helped with the fundraising, especially the San Bernardino County Special Districts.

“You have heard mention an awful lot about how generous the county has been with developing this school house and this park,” Taylor said. “This is a benefit to the county also, as it is a real gem.”

Taylor then introduced Aaron Speer, with the San Bernardino County Special Districts who helped complete the project.

“If you are going to be in San Bernardino County on Aug. 3, where would you rather be? You cannot beat the weather and the scenery up here,” Speer said.

He talked a bit more about the project and thanked Diana Elder, director of the school house and museum, about her behind-the-scenes work.

He then concluded: “Enjoy this, we are very excited about it … We are very happy to be a part of this and happy for it to be in the done column.”

For information about membership in the Oak Glen School House Museum and Park Association, call 797-1691.

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