by Dennis Dalman
An 84-year-old Sartell school that has found a new purpose will be the focus of an all-grades reunion Saturday, June 14.
The reunion will coincide with the annual Sartell SummerFest that day. After the SummerFest Grand Parade (10 a.m.-noon), reunion participants will gather by Bernick’s Arena in Pinecone Regional Park, which has been reserved just for the reunion from 1-6 p.m. Bus rides throughout the day will give reunion people a tour of the city, as well as a guided tour of the old school. They’ll also have a chance to peruse scrapbooks and other memorabilia collected by organizers at the two previous reunions. Part of the tour will include a visit to the historic paper mill, now under demolition, where many alumni of the Sartell School worked during their adult years.
There will be food and non-alcoholic drinks for purchase at Pinecone Regional Park, or participants are welcome to bring their own.
On the night of June 14, reunion folks can enjoy the SummerFest street dance and fireworks at Great River Bowl.
Organizers of the reunion have been busy contacting people who attended the Sartell School. They are inviting all alumni, their families, as well as any teachers or staff who worked at the school. Organizers are also asking alumni to bring along mementoes from their school years: photos, books, letters, printed class programs or any other items from their school years.
For decades, the Sartell School, which is now the schools’ District Services Building, was the city’s only school, serving children in grades K-8. The brick building, constructed in 1930, replaced a former wooden school building.
After eighth-grade graduation, students most often attended either St. Cloud Tech High School or Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that Sartell voters decided to create their own school district, which included a Sartell High School.
In recent years, there have been two reunions at Sartell School. The first was planned with alumni from the 10-year period of 1950 to 1960. When others heard about the reunion – those who attended that school in other years – they raised a hue and cry that they would like to be invited, too, if another reunion should ever be held. Organizers liked the idea, and two years ago, the invitation was a wide-open one for anybody who attended or who had anything to do with the historic school. That reunion drew many participants who enjoyed a day of sharing memories and lots of laughter.
“Generations of people – grandparents, parents, their kids and grandkids – went to that school,” said Robert Becker, a life-long Sartell resident who himself attended Sartell School. “We want those people to come back to see the school before more remodeling makes it all but unrecognizable.”
Becker was referring to how the old brick school has been retrofitted in recent years as office space for the school district, as well as the district’s Early Childhood Education classrooms. Major remodeling projects within the school have altered its look in surprising ways.
Born in St. Cloud but raised in Sartell, Becker attended the Sartell School all the waythrough eighth grade, then transferred to St. Cloud Tech, where he met his future wife, Linda Bracken. Their son, Matthew, also attended the Sartell School, but – unlike his father who went to Tech – he was able to graduate from the new Sartell High School, which opened 45 years ago.
Reunion organizers want to get the word out as quickly as possible so people far and wide can start planning to add the reunion event to their summer traveling schedules. Becker is encouraging alumni to call, email or post Facebook notices to anyone they know of who attended Sartell School. He also is asking people to remind one another to scrounge around to find mementoes to bring to the event.
For more information, call Becker at 320-252-7956.