History at center of Whitebead salute

Whitebead School is inviting alumni and the general public out to a celebration of its 100th birthday on March 1.

Big plans look to be in the works as Whitebead School will soon celebrate a real milestone with a salute to the 100th anniversary of its main two-story school building.

Located just a few stone throws from Pauls Valley, the school for students up through the eighth grade is getting its welcome mat ready for what they’re calling the school’s “Centennial Celebration.”

“It’s getting huge,” Superintendent Lou Ann Wood says about the celebration.

“This is 100 years. That’s a long time for a school to be educating kids.”

The big celebration is coming on Friday, March 1.

There will be no classes that day as alums and the general public will be invited to drop by to check out a full day of activities and a nostalgic look back at the history of Whitebead’s school.

“We’ll open up the school all day,” she said.

“We want to invite alums to come back for a visit. We want people to appreciate our history.”

The fun part of the celebration could include a variety of activities and surprises for those coming out.

What the event is really expected to be all about is a look back as work is now underway to contact former students as a way to get some of their stories about the past.

The hope is also for some of those students to dig deep, maybe find some old photos of school in Whitebead going way back.

“We’ll have lots of history coming. We’re trying to get a hold of alumni and invite them to come with their photos,” Wood said.

“We’re hoping for pictures and history. We’re looking for Whitebead history.”

The school’s building still used today was built back in 1919, a little over a decade after Oklahoma became a state.

However, education in the small rural Whitebead area actually started way before that date.

A look back shows W.G. Kimberlin and John C. Powell raised money and built a church as an Indian Conference Mission in 1879.

The building soon became known as Piece Institute, which was built east of Whitebead Cemetery.

This was also a boarding facility, which was the first school and church in the Whitebead area.

When a storm damaged the two-story building in 1905 it was torn down. Some of the lumber was used to build Whitebead’s school at the site of today’s school.

In that two-story building still used today carbide lights first provided lighting before electricity was brought into the community in 1935.

The first gym was built out of sheet iron as coal stoves at each end provided heat.

In those early days getting to the school was much different than it is today.

“We had horses. The kids rode horses to school back then. We even had a stable,” Wood adds.

The last high school class to graduate from Whitebead dates back to 1947.

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