LAKEWOOD — For the Lakewood School District, it was an evening to commemorate a century of history, but for many attendees of the district's annual Open House and Tech Expo on Tuesday, Jan. 14, it was an occasion to catch up with old acquaintances and reflect on lifetimes' worth of experiences.
Sue Walde, who serves as the publications chair for the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, wound up snapping some shots of class photos from the old Lakewood School, including one picture with a connection to her own family's history.
"In Miss Kramer's class of 1935-36, there's Harold Brevik," Walde said, pointing to one student's face in black and white. "He was the husband of my great-aunt, Betty Berg. It's really wonderful to be able to connect with the past on a personal level like this."
Local historian Loren Kraetz did not attend any Lakewood schools himself, but he nonetheless met a few former classmates from his younger years at the event, including one whom he recalled as a champion at marbles. While Kraetz expressed enthusiasm for the amount of history that was on display in the Lakewood High School gymnasium that evening, he was also able to provide the backstory of the Lakewood School District before its inception in 1914.
"This is really an experience," Kraetz said, as he surveyed the rows of tables topped with displays spotlighting specific periods and aspects of the school district's history. "I'm interested in the history of all the area schools, including the Silvana, Island and Bryant schools. There were originally four schools in this area, before they were merged together to make the Lakewood School. The Margis School on Sill Road was the first, in 1891, followed by the Harter School, which was where the auction barn is now. The two other schools, one of them by Lake Goodwin, came after."
While Kraetz lamented that not all of the students in the class photos from throughout the years could be readily identified, he appreciated that attendance records from those years allowed a number of them to be recorded, and he was overwhelmed by the number of old pictures that fellow local historian Carol Nelson had been able to supply for the event.
"It's just wonderful to have this all preserved," Kraetz said, before he recognized one of his former Arlington teachers, John Redeen, posing in a photo with his students in the Lakewood School class of 1948. "I had him in seventh grade. He had a temper," he laughed.
"Everybody's been giving me all these old photos over the last 20 years of reunions," said Nelson, who graduated from eighth grade at the Lakewood School in 1950. "We didn't have any higher grades at Lakewood back then, so I went to the Marysville schools, and everybody else went to the Arlington schools. Lakewood itself has always been my home, though. My parents homesteaded this area. My grandpa had horses at his farm in Shoultes, because he didn't have a tractor."
Nelson cited the number of her fellow Lakewood School alumni who also remained in the area, which she attributed to the community's familial atmosphere.
"It was just homey," Nelson said. "A lot of the dads went fishing together, and then went off to work at the shipyards in Everett together during the war. Your neighbors were part of your family, and everybody just helped out everybody else."
Lakewood Middle School Registrar Renee Bjerkaker staffed a display showcasing a much more recent stretch of the Lakewood School District's history, featuring the Lakewood Junior High School that preceded the middle school from 1972-83.
"This was Robin Barker's old cheerleading uniform from when she went there," Bjerkaker said, referring to the executive administrative assistant to the Lakewood School District. "We didn't have our own high school here back then, so students still had to decide whether they would attend the Arlington or Marysville-Pilchuck high schools."
Judy Jensen began working as a nurse in the Lakewood School District in 1972, and didn't retire until 1998. As she stopped by Lakewood High School to check out the historical displays, she touted the progress that the district has made.
"As wonderful as it is to see all these old photos and faces, it's even more good to see the new technology that our students have," Jensen said, as LHS freshman Gabriel Schiess took an Apple IIe for a test-drive to find out what playing the "Oregon Trail" was like for his parents' generation. "We've come a long way. From the 1970s through the '90s, we were a small community that got a lot bigger. I still miss the wonderful people I worked with here, and the fantastic kids, many of whom went on to great successes because of their teachers here."
In the LHS cafeteria, adjacent to the gymnasium, members of the high school's Robotics Team conducted demonstrations of some of the new technology to which Jensen alluded.
"You really learn to work together through building and operating these robots," said LHS sophomore Dietrick Kooyman, lead designer for the school's Robotics Team. "These challenges require teamwork between both teams and team members, and the results are fantastic. As much as grownups think that kids can't do, this program helps us build the future of society."