In early 1930 the school was demolished and a new building was constructed on the same site, opening its doors for the start of the 1931 school year. South Salem resident Dean Davenport, 86, a student at Salem Heights from 1927 to 1935 when it served first through eighth grades, recalls that the country school wasn’t much different than it is today, apart from swelling from four rooms to its present size. Davenport has been volunteering at Salem Heights Elementary once a week for the past four years. This year he’s been a mentor to a fifth grade student, with whom he plays games (Jenga is a favorite), eats lunch or visits the library.When musing on the difference between kids today and back then, he says “They’re kids and just want to be noisy — in the lunchroom especially. But when they get too loud, they turn out the lights!”
Davenport recalls that when he was a student, there wasn’t school lunch. You either brought your lunch or went home to eat.
To celebrate the century mark, on May 3 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Salem Heights will open its doors to all community members, past graduates and staff, current staff, students and their families. Student ambassadors will conduct tours of the building, student experts will be stationed throughout the school to answer questions, and library visitors can enjoy an historical exhibit.
At 6:30 a student performance in the gym will highlight education through the decades. Refreshments will include Ding Dongs, in a nod to the recently reinstalled school bell, which for years was housed at Salem Heights Hall. The parent club will host a silent auction to benefit the school. Salem Heights Elementary School is located at 3495 Liberty Road. For more information, call (503) 399-3187.