By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
SILVANA — Nearly 150 people plan to gather this weekend to celebrate memories of a school that hasn’t existed for 54 years. The youngest of the last of Silvana Grade School’s students are now 60 years old.
An all-classes Silvana School Reunion is set for noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Viking Hall on Pioneer Highway.
It’s only the second such reunion for Silvana and probably is its last, considering the ages of most former students, said Don Brekhus, 72, of Camano Island, the chairman of the reunion organizing committee.
“It’s going to be a celebration of history,” said Brekhus, who, with his twin sister, was in a class of six children.
Most of the school founders were Scandinavian immigrants who settled up the Stillaguamish River from Stanwood, Brekhus said. Among them was his great-grandfather. Later, Brekhus’ grandfather served on the Silvana School Board while Brekhus’ father was a student. Brekhus and his siblings also went to Silvana School. The Brekhus story is common among the many families who’ve called Silvana home for many generations.
Those who plan to go to the reunion Sunday remember climbing the stairs of their two-story school building, built in 1914. For the next 45 years, an annual group photo was taken on the front steps.
A group shot is planned at the reunion, which also will honor the oldest person attending and the person who has traveled the farthest.
Along with Brekhus, the reunion committee includes Judy Anderson McBride, Delores Brekhus Thorson, Eugene Elefson, Margie Lovgreen McGhan, Robin Monson Sather, Eldon Nysether, Gerald Nysether, Margaret Nysether Ames, Mary Nysether, Audrey Peterson Knutson, Dennis Reese, Ron Rosenbach, Yolanda Rosenbach Larsen, Alic Sneve Jacobs, Liv Storwick Owens, Margit Storwick Gibbons and Marie Storwick Hutchings.
Liv Storwick Owens, 76, of Arlington, attended the school during a time when her mother, Evangeline Ness Storwick, taught first grade there.
“My parents met at a dance at Viking Hall in Silvana and they loved the community,” Owens said. “I remember one day yelling ‘Mom!’ in front of the whole class and I got teased for it. Today, I am proud of it. My parents attended the reunion in 1978 and I’m glad I will be here for this one.”
Yolanda Rosenbach Larsen, also 76, of Arlington and the mother of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, was a relative late-comer to Silvana, having moved there with her family from Nebraska. Her father worked as the school’s janitor for a time.
Larsen and Owens remember putting on plays together at the school.
“Plays that had no end,” Owens remembered with a laugh. “We also had music, sports and 4-H. Life in Silvana was school, church, Sons of Norway and community basket socials. At the end-of-the-year school picnic, we all got a bottle of pop. That was special.”
Many community activities took place at the school.
“It was such a great old building,” Larsen said. “I remember how it creaked and groaned in the mornings.”
Robin Monson Sather, 71, represents the fifth of seven generations of her family who have lived in Silvana. One great-great grandfather arrived in the Stillaguamish River valley from Portugal in 1800s and married a woman from the Stillaguamish tribe. Another great-great grandfather came from Norway at about the same time.
Sather’s grandfather and her mother worked as postmasters in Silvana for many years. Sather’s dad served in the fire department. Her family was part of the group that started the Silvana Fair.
“I am thrilled to have lived here all my life. It’s an honor to be in this community,” Sather said. “I can’t wait for all the old school photos to be displayed on Sunday and for the people in their 80s and 90s to tell their stories.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
1885 — Silvana School District No. 57 established. Classes meet in homes, businesses and churches.
1890 — First one-room schoolhouse built.
1905 — Completion of a two-room school building, which later becomes the school gym. (Still standing on Pioneer Highway and used as a private residence.)
1914 — Silvana School moves into a new two-story building next to the gym.
1945 — Arlington School District absorbs Silvana School District, and hot lunch is served at Silvana School.
1959 — Silvana Grade School closes.
1960-1970 — The Opportunity School, a special education program, is housed in the old building.
1971 — Silvana School bell moved to Arlington High School.
1977 — The Silvana school building is razed.
1978 — The school bell is returned to the community, and former students and teachers attend the first Silvana School reunion.
2013 — The school’s second — and possibly last — reunion is Sunday.
All former Silvana School students and their families are encouraged to attend a reunion at noon Sunday at Viking Hall, 1331 Pioneer Highway. More information, 360-652-7220.