November 23, 2023 - 11:28 pm
As some of you know, I grew up here in Boulder City having started school in sixth grade at Garrett Junior High.
But what many don’t know is that I went to grades one through five in a one-room schoolhouse in Searchlight. My dad was a ranger for the National Park Service for 30 years and one of our early stops was Cottonwood Cove.
This topic came up recently and I thought I’d share.
For the kids of park service families, as well as concessionaires, Searchlight was the nearest school, which was 14 miles away. The building is still there and sits atop a hill in the middle of town. The once yellow building, now a light green, is used as an after-school program center. But for decades it was the only school for miles. In fact, Sen. Harry Reid, who grew up in Searchlight, attended the same school as I did …but a FEW years earlier. The current elementary school is named after him and is overseen by whoever sits at the principal’s desk of Andrew J. Mitchell, who is now Tracy Echeverria.
Back to my story.
The building itself wasn’t technically a one-room schoolhouse but rather one large room, which housed grades one through five (one through six until Garrett was built). Each grade was sectioned off and had their daily assignments on the chalkboard.
The second room, which was about half the size, served as the principal’s office, library, TV room where we’d get to watch “Electric Company”, copy room and just about anything else you could think of. It was also our lunchroom and aside from new clothes, the best part of back-to-school shopping was getting a new lunchbox each year. A few of my favorites were Evel Knievel, NFL helmets and my all-time favorite, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Then, a smaller third room was where the restrooms were located, refrigerator and P.E. equipment. My guess is, the entire building was about 1,200 square feet.
When I tell people that I went to a one-room schoolhouse, they ask, “You mean like on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ or ‘The Waltons?’” Well, maybe not exactly, but close. Hence the headline of this column.
I remember us getting down to just 13 students one year and because of that, Clark County School District threatened to close the school. And, I believe the most students we had was 35. We had a main teacher who also served as the principal and depending upon the enrollment, we had one or two full-time teachers.
Being that I went there my entire elementary school career, I never knew any different. It felt normal. We did everything bigger schools did, just on a smaller scale. We had music, art, P.E., health, film days, dances, holiday plays, etc. It was great and I don’t feel my education suffered as I went on to junior high.
Speaking of P.E., this is how this topic came up recently. When I was in fourth grade in the late 1970s, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (which the Boulder City Review is part of) did a big spread on the school and I was in one of the photos. I came across that photo recently, sparking my memories of being a Searchlight Elementary Cowboy. Needless to say, it brought a smile to my face.
Ron Eland is editor of the Boulder City Review. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 702-586-9523.