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Riverview School to be restored

Mary Higgins was the last teacher to teach at Riverview School before it closed in 1962. Now, she's working with a committee to restore the building. Photo by Jackie Grumish

If the Riverview School Committee has its way, Riverview School could be restored to its original beauty after more than 40 years without students.

Mary Higgins, who was the last person to teach in the building, couldn't be more delighted.

"The students that went to school here were the generation that put man on the moon," she said.

The school closed in the 1960s and was converted into the Star Prairie Town Hall. Two years ago, a new town hall was built and the old school has been vacant since.

"Now we want to do something with it," said Al Campeau, one of the Star Prairie Town Supervisors.

That's why the Town of Star Prairie is hosting a public forum Dec. 13.

At the 2 p.m. meeting, the Riverview School Committee hopes to gain public support to restore the building.

"We want to make it into a learning center with antiques," Campeau said.

If that's what the committee decides to do, the building could prove very beneficial to a student's education, Higgins said.

"Today, elementary schools have changed," she said. "Students rely on technology, but we didn't have it back then."

Now, when Higgins volunteers at the schools, students are taught using digital projectors that teachers can use to project lessons and videos onto a white board, she said.

"We wrote almost all the lessons on these chalkboards," she said as she looked to the front of Riverview School's single classroom.

Those chalkboards still hang on the walls of the school. Original doors and a desk also remain in the room.

The way students were taught isn't the only thing that's changed, she said. The students responsibility has also changed.

For example, in the 1960s, the oldest students were responsible for the school's heat -- Riverview School was heated with a coal furnace.

"Every morning the seventh and eighth grade boys would put the coal in the furnace," she said. "They loved doing that."

Seventh and eighth grade might seem young, but in the 1960s, those were the oldest students, she said.

"It only went up to eighth grade," Higgins said.

Campeau said he hopes some Riverview alumni are still living in the area and are willing to discuss the school's future.

"We'd like to see some of these students here to talk about this," he said.

Although there are many uncertainties about the Riverview School project, one thing is clear, Campeau said -- the building will not be demolished.

"The building itself is in good condition," he said. "We're going to do something with it."

The Riverview School was one of the last country schools to close, Higgins said.

"It sure would be nice to see it restored," she said.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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