SILVANA — It’s been nearly 60 years, but Jane Monson Prestbye can still imagine the old schoolhouse.
She remembers the lunchroom, the gym and a big slide on the playground. She walked nearly every day to school, where only three others were in her grade.
“You had such an identity to your community growing up like that,” she said.
She and about 40 others who attended the Silvana School gathered for their annual all-class reunion Thursday afternoon at Peace Lutheran Church on Larson Road.
Silvana is situated in north Snohomish County, between Stanwood and Arlington. The Stillaguamish River surrounds the little unincorporated town.
Most of those who gathered last week met as children, and are now in their late 60s to late 80s.
Robin Monson Sather organizes the yearly event. Usually about 30 people show up, she said.
Sather has lived in Silvana most of her life, and went to the school from 1948 to 1954.
At the reunion, she placed class photos around the room dating back to the early 1900s. Many could point out their parents in the older pictures.
The Silvana School District was established around 1885. In 1890, construction started on a schoolhouse along Pioneer Highway, a building that’s still standing.
It later became the gymnasium when a bigger school was opened in 1914. It served kids in grades one through six. Most classes had fewer than 10 students.
Irving Nysether, 86, had two other children in his class. He started school there in 1939. He recalls singing on a stage in a top floor of the building.
At 67, Prestbye guessed that she was the youngest one at the reunion. She went to the Silvana School for one year, starting first grade in 1958.
The school was closed the following year, and students were transferred to Arlington.
Prestbye, who now lives in Kent, remembers the adjustment being difficult. She started to ride the bus, along with classmates Barb Howell Hansen and Margery Lovgreen McGhan. They were two grades ahead of Prestbye.
The new school was about 7 miles from their Silvana neighborhoods. McGhan was one of the first to get on the bus. It would take about an hour to reach the school, as the bus meandered its way along the backroads.
By the end of the trip, the aisles would be filled with children who had to stand because there weren’t enough seats.
When it snowed, the bus couldn’t make it up the hill to their houses. They’d have to walk the rest of the way, McGhan said.
Linda Husby Carlson makes it to her hometown every summer for the Silvana Fair and the reunion. She now lives in Arizona.
Her parents helped start the Silvana Fair, she said.
She remembers entering the Snohomish County Dairy Princess Pageant as a girl. She had made her own dress, while the other contestants bought theirs.
“I probably had cow manure behind my ear,” she said. “Needless to say I didn’t win.”
Carlson and the others sat at big round tables Thursday, catching up and reminiscing about school days. Lunch was served on a long table, where each person could dish their own plate.
Guests started to clear out after a couple of hours, with hopes of seeing one another next year.