Adair County rural schools reunion works to preserve memories

William Matthew Middle School in Kirksville played host to the second 'Adair County Rural Schools Reunion' (KTVO)

Blanket Grove, Hungry Hollow and Bald Knob - do those unique names sound familiar? If so, you may have attended one of the many rural schools that were formerly found in Adair County, Missouri.

Recently, teachers and former students came together to unite and talk about days long gone.

It may sound surprising, but 76 now non-existent rural schools used to be scattered around Adair County. The memories of wooden desks, chalkboards and friendships with fellow classmates are now preserved in black and white photos.

Larry Evans, co-author of the books 'Rural Schools in the Heartland: Adair County, Missouri' and 'A Pictorial Tribute to Rural Schools: Adair County, Missouri', says those small, intimate schoolhouses helped shape many Adair County residents into who they are today.

"We did everything. We went to church there, we had 4H Club meetings there, we had vacation bible school and we went to school there. It provided an opportunity for a very close knit relationship."

The last of the rural schools in the county closed in 1967. Now, many of those schools have either been demolished or transformed into family homes. While the schools are no more, the memories of the times that were shared still linger.

"They had a tremendous importance in our lives. In the rural areas, in the 40s, 50s and 60s, when we grew up, the rural school was the center of our community."

Although the last of the rural schools closed its doors almost 50 years ago, a special reunion that was recently held reopened those doors, and helped rekindle those special friendships. That reunion took place at William Matthew Middle School in Kirksville.

Those in attendance at the gathering had a chance to take a step back into time. Different exhibits and presentations were on display showcasing each school and its former students.

"It's sort of the time for reflection. We are coming to the time period in our life that we look back on our childhood memories, and we had a lot of good memories of those rural schools. This is sort of an opportunity to see our friends who we went to school with."

One former student shared a story of how attending a small rural school inspired her to become a teacher. She said that she would finish her school work quickly so that she could help the younger students with writing and reading.

This is the second time a rural school reunion such as this been held for Adair County residents.

"Many of us haven't seen these people for so many years. It's a good opportunity to get together and renew old acquaintances."

In addition to checking out the different exhibits that were on display at the reunion, those who were teachers also received a special recognition and thanks for all they have done.

While the rural schools in Adair County may be no more, the memories that were created because of them, will live in the hearts of those former teachers and students forever.

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