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February 4, 1977…40th Anniversary of Oak Tree School Fire

posted Feb 2, 2017, 1:10 PM by Kristin Snell   [ updated Feb 2, 2017, 1:29 PM ]

by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center

Lovingly created by the San Juan Ridge Community, Oak Tree School sits peacefully atop a leafy knoll. Strewn with picnic tables and granite outcroppings, her grassy lawns welcome visitors, inviting them to linger a while and enjoy red-winged blackbirds’ songs rising from a nearby pond. The beautiful oak-studded site was carefully chosen for a school that was designed and built by the San Juan Ridge Community back in the mid 1970’s. The original Oak Tree School was a hand-crafted wonder that embodied the dreams and aspirations of a generation. It was a source of pride and joy for the builders, the teachers, the students, their families, and the community. Then on the evening of February 4, 1977, shortly after its completion, the beautiful new school was consumed by fire.

Alternative school sites were set up around the Ridge so that children continued to be educated while another school was built upon this lovely knoll. As the legendary phoenix is utterly consumed by fire, then reborn to rise from its ashes, so Oak Tree School was reconstructed, rising from the ashes of its predecessor.

History teaches us that we are not immune to change. Although darkness may descend upon the sunniest of days, it does not last forever. Oak Tree School stands as a testament to that.  A dedicated, perseverant community oversaw the rebuilding of an edifice that has endured as a place to educate, gather, and help meet the basic needs of a diverse rural community. She remains our pride and joy.