COOS BAY — Legendary school dances, lifelong friendships and a school spirit that is still to this day unbreakable are a few of the things alumni of the Harding building said they will always remember.
On Saturday, more than a dozen students, community members and past faculty and staff members gathered at the Harding building, which is scheduled to be demolished this spring, to reminisce about their time at the school and to say their goodbyes.
Superintendent Bryan Trendell walks past the soon-to-be demolished Harding Learning Center in Coos Bay. The 1923 building will be replaced by …
The Harding building, which at one point or another served as the district’s elementary and middle school, has been around since 1923. This year, the center will be torn down and reconstructed into Marshfield Junior High.
Coos Bay Superintendent Bryan Trendell, who was a past student at the Harding building, said he understood firsthand the importance of hosting a farewell event, because he grew up around the school as his father was a teacher there for over 30 years.
“There is just so much history in these old buildings,” he said. "I think (the farewell event) is a great way to give folks the opportunity to write down their memories and share their stories. We’re hoping we can capture those stories and memories so that we can preserve them.”
Admittedly a bittersweet moment, Trendell said that although he’s sad the building will be demolished, he is also excited for its new chapter.
“It’s going to be awesome for the next generation of kids and the next generation of staff members,” said Trendell. “It’s going to be great for the community.”
Carol Stewart Luce, who graduated in 1964, said she remembers when the school dress code changed and allowed young girls to wear lipstick.
“All the girls were just so excited,” said Luce. “It was like big news to us. I remember just going home and grabbing my mom’s bright red lipstick and putting it on the next day.”
Like many others in attendance Saturday, Luce said she also remembers the school dances, which she explained would often take place during lunchtime.
A 1965 memory posted to a wall in the gymnasium Saturday during a farewell to the School District's Harding Building in Coos Bay.
“The dances were so fun,” she said. “The music back then was just the best. I remember them playing the Everly Brothers, Frankie Avalon and the Fleetwoods.”
A tightknit bunch of students, Luce added the most heartwarming memories she has is all the friendships she formed at the Harding. At 73, she said she’s still connected to many of the students she went to school with.
Former administrator at the Harding from 2004 to 2012, Linda Vickrey said her time at the school was overall an outstanding experience. For more than 20 years, the Harding building held a number of alternative programs for students throughout the area and was called the Harding Learning Center.
“I met a lot of wonderful students here,” said Vickrey. “I have so many great memories of helping kids get back on track and now they’re in the community working hard and being productive members of society.”
In addition to sharing their memories, people were also asked what they think would be a good mascot for the new school. A survey will soon go out to the entire community to see what their thoughts are, said Trendell.
People who were unable to attend Saturday’s event are still encouraged to share their memories and experiences at the school by contacting the Superintendent’s office at 541-267-1310 or by sharing their stories on the Coos Bay School District’s Facebook page.
The Harding is scheduled to be demolished in March. Currently, the district is accepting bids for the new building's construction.