Wending Toward School

“It has been a long siege, but at length it is over. Once more the church bells may ring and the kiddies wend their way toward school.”
Beaverton Times after the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic in Beaverton

The story of C.E. Mason School begins long before the first bricks were fitted together in the late 1940s. To choose a starting point for this tale one might pick up a newspaper from November 15, 1918. Beaverton, Oregon was a small town in a rural state finding its way in the early 20th century amid the challenges of world war and an epidemic of Spanish Influenza.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 6.37.49 AMIn times of adversity the community pulled together, raising money for the war effort, planning a celebration for armistice, and looking to local leaders for reassurance and guidance. On that Friday in November 1918, it was the single local doctor who provided that comfort. Writing in the Beaverton Times, Dr. C.E. Mason told citizens that it was safe again to open churches and schools, and that once again students could get about the business of learning.

This value placed on education was apparent throughout the front page of the paper that day, a note just beneath Dr. Mason’s letter explaining that “Janitor Squires” had “used his vacation well” and “thoroughly cleaned the woodwork of the high school building and is having the blackboards in the grade school resurfaced. so that the school will be like new for Monday.”

Enrollment grew in Beaverton schools over the years that followed, and in 1920 Dr. Mason was elected to the school board with the promise of ensuring that Beaverton schools were as good as those in the big city of Portland. He was board chairman by 1929.

This civic engagement, city pride, and dedication to helping students was part of the spirit of Beaverton in these interwar years. Dr. Mason’s pursuit of quality education for local students, including his own kids, helped to define the school district he was helping to lead.

The 1930s and 1940s saw even more growth in Beaverton and in 1947 the school district spent $15,000 on farmland designated for a new grade school to help with overcrowding. That school opened in the fall of 1949 as C.E. Mason Elementary. A year later epic growth prompted the addition of nine more classrooms at C.E. Mason.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 7.39.29 AMAlmost seventy years later there are still students in those same classrooms, reading, writing, learning, and making art. Creative sixth through twelfth graders sit today where the youngsters of 1949 once did, and while C.E. Mason Elementary has changed much over the decades, the impact the school has on the city of Beaverton is as great now as it ever was. Next week more than 700 students will “wend their way toward school,” a school that our hardworking custodians have spent summer vacation making “like new for Monday.”

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