Oldest Niobrara School Is Across Street from NCHS
By Laraine Gautschi
If you have ever wondered what the old building sitting across from the High School is, here are the answers and some of the facts about it.
That building was built in 1912 by the people living in the Royal Valley community. It is the old Royal Valley school house which was the first standardized school in Wyoming and was located about eight miles west of the present Highway 85.
The old District No. 1 school board furnished the money to build a one room schoolhouse. The patrons of the area took it upon themselves to build the school. Two of the members of the school board at that time were Will Blackmore and T.A. Godfrey.
The first teacher of the Royal Valley School was Minta Rice. Following her were Mabel Bunting and Leora Callwell. These teachers taught while the school consisted of only one room. The following is a list of some of the students who attended Royal Valley the first and later years: Theron, Edward, Harold and Clyde Blackmore, Gerald and Beryl Allan, Thelma and Julius Sparks, Bessy Tudder and Bernice Kint.
Shortly before the school became standardized, the community built another room onto the school. A literary society was formed and plays and programs were performed to raise money for a piano and curtains.
Community dances were held there at least twice a month if the weather was permissible. They provided their own music with the fiddles of the farmers and ranchers. some of the musicians for these dances were Archie Sparks, Floyd McLain, Lee Wood, and Mrs. Fred Snee.
On many Sundays everyone brought their food and a big dinner was held immediately after Sunday school. After dinner there were games and gossip as you could picture at a community gathering.
Every third Sunday Reverend Jacobs from Jay Em rode in with his horse and buggy to give the services. On these Sundays the dinners were always something quite special.
Always on Thanksgiving Day there was a community dinner. Most everyone who attended Royal Valley would remember these big Thanksgiving festivities.
The teachers that came after the new room was added were many including Gertrude Burke, Frances Gillette, Fern Ethridge, Ann Pfister, Bertha Browning, Mary Broderick, Mrs. Turner, May Hotson, Alpha Porter, Frances Coen,, Irma Guyot, and Vesta Thon. Many of these teachers boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Roy McLlain of Royal Valley.
Other pupils who attended Royal Valley are Mae and Violet Sparks, Ardith Lucille Paul, and Voyne Morgan, May Louise McLain, Irene Senters, John Robert Baer, Dorothy and Marguerite Intveen, LaVerne Sison, Ruth Schley, LaVerne and Velma Henderson, Gene, Buster, Clifford, Merlin, Guy, and Delmar Blackmore, Opal and Esther Snee, and Doris Van Tassell.
The students who lived quite close to the school usually walked. These closest distances would probably be no more than a mile or two. Others rode horses and in stormy weather they came by bobsled.
When the first school bus came along, Bill Intveen was the first driver. Following him were Julius Schley and Fred Snee.
After the school became standardized there were approximately 30 students who attended. Students came from as far as eight or nine miles to attend school at Royal Valley.
The Royal Valley School closed about 1935 when students began attending Lusk school.
The school was moved to town and used as an agricultural shop for the high school building which is now the Lusk Grade School. From there it was transferred to its position across from the present high school where it was used as construction offices for the Spiegelberg Lumber Company during construction of NCHS. The company purchased the building from NCHS during the construction period. They in turn sold it to Dale Windom who is now is possession of the building. Although the building looks like any ordinary run down shack, it holds many memories for many in this area.