On Saturday, former rural students Twyla Caldwell and Janice VanDorn were just two of the participants who attended the third annual reunion for former students of Cave Springs, Cedar Creek, Oak Grove and Spurgeon schools at the Oak Grove Community Building, located south of Joplin on Route NN.
The reunion consisted of coffee and registration at 9 a.m., followed by a program at 11 a.m., covered dish lunch at noon and finally class pictures at 1:30 p.m.
Caldwell went to Cedar Creek for a little bit and then went to Oak Grove. VanDorn spent most of her time at Oak Grove School.
The Neosho Daily News asked Caldwell and VanDorn a couple questions about the reunion.
NDN: What are some of your fondest memories at Oak Grove School?
Caldwell: I think just the people that I went to school with, at Cedar Creek my best friend was Della Wallace and Darlene Clement, it was a real small school.
VanDorn: Playing softball, I think that I was the only girl on the team. We would play other rural schools and that was a lot of fun. Another thing that was so much fun was – I think that it was my eighth grade year – we made a yearbook, and that was pretty cool, we had lots of candid shots.
NDN: How important are reunions for you to attend?
VanDorn: The people of course are the main thing, reconnecting with the community and the people. And the other thing is the feel of community, because our rural schools and our rural churches were the center of our families. That time is long gone that you know your every neighbor. That is a nostalgic thing.
Caldwell: I live now in the home that I grew up in, from the time that I was probably in the fourth grade. I was away for like 35 years in Kansas City and then moved back down here. It is just reconnecting with everybody that you kind of lost track of in that period of time that I was gone. I have been back now for 16 years.
It is important, I enjoy seeing everybody.
Those in attendance at the reunion looked at old photographs of their classes and past reunions.
The rural grade schools were one rooms except for Oak Grove School and it was two rooms. After eighth grade, the students then went to Neosho for high school. For the most part, the rural schools mentioned closed and consolidated with Neosho School District in the late 1960s.
Cave Springs School is now a barn, Spurgeon School is now a house, and Cedar Creek School was torn down. Oak Grove School is now a community building.