by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
If you attended first grade in the Grain Valley Elementary School between 1954 and 1978, you will no doubt remember the tile floor in your classroom. If you started first grade after 1978, you may have attended Matthews Elementary. By the fall of 2000, the old first grade room was a middle school science room, but the old tile floor had not changed!
After the reorganization of the schools in Jackson County in 1949, most of the rural, one-room , country schools were closed. Round Grove, Oak Hill, Stony Point and Oakland School had already consolidated with the old School District No. 3. With reorganization and the closing of Murphy School on Murphy School Road and Elm Grove School on Stillhouse Road, it became apparent that a new elementary school would be needed to house the increasing enrollment in the Grain Valley Reorganized School District #5.
I began second grade in the fall of 1953. Mrs. Fern Church was our teacher. Before Christmas we knew we would soon be moving into the new elementary school, built just north of our current school. We had been told that one or two classes would move each week beginning with first grade, then second, and so on, until all six grades and the principal had been moved. At that point, the cafeteria would open and feed all students, 1st through 12th grade.
As the greatly anticipated day approached, the floor tile for the first-grade classroom had not arrived. It was a “special order” for the “special” floor installed in the first-grade room. While the first and second-grade rooms both had their own doors leading to the playground, only the first-grade had an attached bathroom and a special floor. Do any of you remember the floor? It had a Hop-Scotch game in the center with the ABCs and numbers around the game. And around the outside, there were names –Dick, Jane, Sally (baby sister), Spot (the dog) and Puff (the cat); the beloved characters in our first-grade reading books! So, the second-grade got to be the first class in the new building. We were elated! We were there for at least two or three days before the third-grade joined us. As I recall, the first-grade may have been the last class to move.
If anyone has a picture of the old floor, I would love to get a copy for the Historical Society. I’m relatively sure none of the old tiles were saved. After all, they were probably full of asbestos!
I wasn’t in the special class with the special floor. However, my class, the Class of 1964, did have two distinctions. We were the first class to move into the 1954 Grain Valley Elementary School. And, we were the last class to play basketball in the gymnasium and graduate on the stage of the brick school built in 1926.
What was special about your class? The Historical Society invites you to join us for Coffee with Classmates –the Rock ‘n Roll Years (1950-1970) on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 beginning at 10:00 AM. We will reconnect, reminiscence, and share memorabilia from our days at Grain Valley! I hope you will join us.