Students chip in to renovate historic schoolhouse

The Weekly Bulletin – May 17, 2011

Students from Patagonia Elementary School learned about local history and helped clean up a historic schoolhouse site during a recent field trip to Lochiel.

The visit by Kate Musick’s first- and second-grade students to the Lochiel School was the culminating event of a partnership between Patagonia Elementary School, The Patagonia Museum, and The Patagonia Creative Arts Center, Musick said.

The partnership began with German Quiroga from the Patagonia Museum visiting Mrs. Musick’s class to give an oral history of the Lochiel School.

Following the history lesson, the students went to the Patagonia Creative Arts Center to draw pictures of the Lochiel School and to make a large collage of the school. The collage will be used as the logo for a sign that will soon be installed at the Lochiel School.

Then, on May 9, the students piled into a school bus for a one-hour ride to the school site.

“Only about six miles of the way is paved and everyone on the bus agreed that it would be hard to have to make that bumpy bus trip twice a day,” Musick said, noting that the Lochiel Loop is still a daily bus ride for several of her school’s students. It has been about 40 years since the Lochiel School closed its doors and the area’s children began riding the bus into Patagonia.

Upon arriving at the school, the class was met by Quiroga, along with fellow Patagonia Museum members Ralph Schmidt and Dick Volz. Following a short history lesson, the children pitched in and went to work filling 14 large garbage cans with organic debris from the schoolyard.

“After working for about two hours everyone washed up and then devoured their sack lunches,” Musick said. “When lunch was finished everyone walked the short distance to the Mexican Border and checked out the big fence. The group was also able to visit the old church that is in pristine condition.”

When the day was done , she said, both the children and adults were amazed by the amount of work that had been completed.

First-grade student Felipe Yourgules summed up the day by saying, “This has been a real adventure and I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life!”

Cindy Matus-Morriss, a member of the Patagonia Elementary School Board who joined in on the excursion, added: “It is so nice to once again hear the laughter of children in this historic school. “

Patagonia Elementary School has leased the Lochiel School and teacherage to the Patagonia Museum. The museum group has been working once a month to clean up the historic school and remove debris from the area.