Closing the school

“Then, there were the evening school board meetings where we learned to speak and save our school.” – Leela Fireside

“I remember going to School Board meetings to try to save East Hill. I think I remember our making snide comments in response to Martha Muka.” – Anonymous

“During the effort to keep the school from closing, I remember singing “This little East Hill light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” over and over. And a quilt was raffled off to raise money for the effort, and it was my job as an 8 year old to go up on stage and pull out the winning raffle ticket – and I pulled out my parents’ ticket, and was unable to speak, I was so embarrassed.” – Erica Peters

“I was as disappointed then as I am now, but I wasn’t surprised. Even then, I understood that it wasn’t possible for East Hill to be the amazing place it was without antagonizing people who doubted its value.” – Anonymous

“As a parent and a teacher, I spent hundreds of hours working with other parents like Leslie Puryear and Betty Halton trying to keep the School Board from closing the school.  The Board said they were closing it due to its condition, but really it was a political decision.  The end finally came when Dan Lee gave in and agreed to close it. 

Our merger with Central School was done very poorly.  Two schools with opposing philosophies and very different populations were put together with little assistance from the district.  For the first 2 years at Central we had 2 schools in one building.  I kept my kindergarten class by moving up with them into a first/second grade class.  I had a group of students for 3 years, which was amazing.  I continued providing them with an East Hill education, which was true for other EH teachers and the Central teachers did the same. 

There was a lot of tension among teachers and students.  EH’s mostly white, middle class hippy population didn’t know how to interact with Central’s mostly black, working class, traditional families and teachers. 

In the end, I learned a lot about teaching from a multicultural perspective, but when Beverly Martin left to become the first Affirmative Action director, Dan was left as the sole principal.  It was not good for the neighborhood residents.” – Roberta Wallitt

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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