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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View Entire Issue (April 18, 1915)
THE SUNDAY OREGONIAN, PORTLAND, APRIL 18, 1915.
GIRL SCHOOL HEAD OF
VAST MALHEUR COUNTY
Miss Fay Clark Superintendent of Area Bigger Than Massachusetts and
Where Only Fourth of Schools Are on Railroad.
UNIVERSITY OP OREGON. Eugene,
April 17. (Special.) To act as
superintendent of schools in a
county that contains 9883 square miles
and has. only 15 out of 62 schools that
can be reached by railroad, is the task
that is falling- to the lot of a University
of Oregon girl. Miss Fay Clark, who
was graduated with the class of 1912.
The county is Malheur, the south
easternmost county of Oregon, bounded
by Idaho on the east and Nevada on
tho south and Harney County on the
west. The superintendency of schools
of its immese area presents problems
that might puzzle a County Superin
tendent in, say, Vermont, the area of
the whole of which state is 9124 square
miles; or in Massachusetts, the whole
area of which is 1744 square miles less
than the area of Malheur alone.
In .the southern part of the "empire"
over which Miss Clark has to travel,
nearly 3000 square miles are included
in two school districts. In both, all
the children live in small settlements
where the cattlemen and sheepmen
keep their families while they them
selves are in the hills.
Most of the inhabitants of these two
districts are Spanish Basques. For the
most part they are eager that their
children receive an education. They
are firm believers In long terms of
school and gladly add 10 mills tax to
their already high taxes for the sup
port of Schools. They pay their teach
ers well and are proud to see their
boys and girls learn to speak good
"The longest trip I have taken in
visiting schools is something more than
400 miles, 150 of which we traveled in
a wagon In which there were no
springs," writes Miss Clark in a letter
to the university. "The rest of the
trip we made in a machine. From
Jordan Valley, where we left the stage,
to McDermitt, Or., on the Nevada line,
is 110 miles. From McDermitt we made
a side trip of about 50 miles to visit
the largest of the Basque schools. We
spent the night at a big ranch house,
where the owner wanted us to remain
a week or two. When I told him I
could not afford to do so, meaning that
I could not afford to pay for the ma
chine and driver during that period,
the hospitable stockman replied:
" 'You stay one week, two weeks,
three weeks; you no pay at all; we no
charge you. "
The smallest school in Misa Clark's
educational domain has four pupils,
but there are several that have no
more than seven or eight pupils. So
scattered are the - homesteaders' set
tlements in the interior of Malheur
that it is impossible for all the chil
dren to reach school. Requests have
been made to Miss Clark for school
districts, which if formed, would con
tain not one acre of deeded land. In
such cases the districts cannot be
granted. The rapid settlement of In
terior Malheur will soon relieve such
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jNlWj K ' . JIM' . WOT
Miss Clark keeps up a continuous
campaign for school betterments. She
maintains school columns in two of
the county papers and finds that many
residents when they find what other
districts are doing are keener for im
provements in their own. This year,
for the first time, rural Malheur people
have heard of standardization, of par
ent-teacher associations, and other in
novations. A school officer's convention has
never been held in Malheur County, but
Miss Clark hopes next October to as
semble one. Next Fall the county
schools are to be represented at the
county and state fairs, 20 boys' and
girls' industrial clubs having been or
ganized this Spring. At the county
fair in September, on children's day,
a school programme is to compete vig
orously with the customary diversions
of wild horse-breaking-, steer roping
and similar frontier sports.
"These people with their character
istic Eastern Oregon disregard for ex
pense, are usually willing to put their
money into school equipment and to
pay more for their teachers when they
realize they need it," writes Msis Clark.
"This last year nearly a third of the
districts increased teachers' salaries,
and a great many teachers are being
re-employed. Both are hopeful signs.
In tho 61 districts in which only 3200
children are enumerated, few salaries
so low as $50 are paid. We have a
splendid big country tilled with ponsl
bilities for good things, and we are
happy: there are too much Hunnhine and
too many blue pktes to feel otherwise."
There is always great excitement in
a country town wli.'n the hotel changes
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This conventional poppy design Is
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