MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Several memories David Adams says he has about Alice Robertson Junior High School "involve different levels of corporal punishment."
He said he has many more happy memories, however.
"They were easily the three best years of my school, especially eighth and ninth grade. It was a special time," said Adams, who attended AR from 1981-84.
Adams and other AR graduates plan to gather at the school at 10 a.m. Saturday for a celebratory walk-through. Participants are encouraged to bring a canned food to be donated to a local pantry.
Older parts of the school, 402 N. S St., are to be demolished next year, and will be replaced by a new Ninth Grade Academy. The original school, built in 1939, has been vacant since May. AR students were moved to what originally was West Junior High. That school now is the Seventh and Eighth Grade Academy.
Muskogee Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Eric Wells said he'll be there to open the door for Saturday's walk-through. However, he said MPS officials prefer people would wait until an ARJH celebration the district is planning for next spring.
"When we do our spring farewell to the building, we will be expecting a lot of people to that one, for sure," Wells said.
MPS Marketing and Communications Director Steve Braun said demolition of the old AR building is set for summer 2020. He said much of Tony Goetz Elementary also is set to be demolished next summer.
He said he knows about Saturday's walk-through.
"We want to pursue having more people come whenever we do have the more formal open houses," Braun said.
Adams said members of the MHS Class of 1984 walked through AR a couple of months ago. When other AR alums found out about it, many said they wished they had been told as well, Adams said.
He said he and another early '80s AR graduate talked about setting up another walk-through.
"We all turn 50 this year, and it makes you look back and think that was a magic time in your life," he said. "There are more good memories than bad associated with it."
He recalled that AR Principal George Washington was "such a cool guy."
"Name some teachers," Adams said. "Everybody loved Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Whitlow and Derryl Venters, Bill Sessions. Jim Wilson was assistant principal there when we were all there."
Adams said plans for the walk-through were posted in Facebook groups, such as "What's going on in Muskogee, OK" and "I'm So Alice Robertson."
He said on Thursday that he got about 100 responses from people wanting to come, including AR students from other eras.
"I'm not surprised," Adams said. "When you're talking about a school that three, maybe four generations of students went to school at."
Texas resident Paula Battenfield Harris, who attended AR in 1969, said she has many memories.
"It just seemed like every day there was kind of fun because you never knew who you were going to see or talk to," she said. "Your friends were pretty much who you had in class, but every class was different."
Harris said her most vivid memory of the old building is when she and her older sister were playing tag after school.
"And she jumped out of the window, which was pretty high up," Harris said. "She just got so excited she jumped out."
Also, she said, "the front steps just seemed really interesting."
"It was just such a big entryway," she said. "It just seemed so grand."
Niki Millsap was part of AR's final freshman class in 1992. Freshmen went to MHS after that. Millsap said her class buried a time capsule that year.
She said her many memories include "It's where my first kiss took place."
"The mixers — learned to dance. Made lifelong friends," she said. "I loved everything about AR. I have zero attachment to the high school like I do AR."
Spaulding writes for Muskogee Phoenix, a CNHI News Service publication.