Monticello dedicated a stunning, brand spanking new elementary school Tuesday night. The world-class facility becomes the fifth elementary school in Monticello.
The first is the old log church, a replica of which stands in Pioneer Park. The second elementary school still stands next to San Juan Dental, and is part of the 4 Corners Deer Processing plant. Drive around to the west side of the building and you can see the original brick used to build the building.
The third school was located in Veteran’s Memorial Park. The fourth, torn down just last summer, is now the parking lot of the current MES.
A former student of both the third and fourth schools, Kaylene Burtenshaw, recently wrote “We started the year in the old school building that used to be in the middle of town, where the park and the library are now. Some of our parents attended the same school.
“I remember the old school bell with a rope pull. It would lift the person who was ringing the bell right off the floor if you were the size of Mrs. Maxine Lyman or Miss Mackelprang or smaller.
“We did move into the brand new Monticello Elementary School during the school year, actually carrying a few of our own books and papers and walking from the old school to the new one.”
Other former students shared their memories of MES.
Steve Giles, 1963-1970. “I will never forget the places Mrs. Lyman took us after coming in from lunch. She opened a world that I didn’t know existed in books, and the door never closed for me. My love for good books was born and nurtured in her class. I hunted coons, slept in haystacks, fought the indigenous people of the west, swung from trapeze and engaged in a host of other unforgettable experiences as I sat mesmerized at her feet with my classmates.”
Andy Taylor, 1988-94. “What do I remember about the lunchroom? Principal Taylor, (my father) standing watch while we ate. It was a prison nightmare. To get to school, I rode my bike, downhill the whole way (sweet), uphill the whole way home; jumped the hospital parking lot and threaded the needle in the fence by John Young’s house.”
Bill Boyle, 1967-73. “We wrote a song about the school to the tune of “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” that included an immortal line about our principal: “And if Jensen should appear, we’ll say ‘Jensen have a beer’. Now, that was funny to a fifth grader.”
Chris Shupe Veach, 1980-86. “I remember in kindergarten, Miss Galavan would push us on the merry go round over and over until we would get so sick we would need to puke. On one occasion somebody actually did throw up all over her! From that point on, our fast trips around and around halted.”
Danny Long, 1985-90. “My favorite lunch in the lunchroom was Wiener Boats!!!! Hands down!!! I still make them. My worst memory was making Steve Freestone mad playing soccer. He threw me down on the ground and I broke my arm. Compound fracture. I deserved it. I also remember watching the Challenger Space Shuttle blow up in Ms. Anderson’s classroom. That was devastating.”
Frank Terry Maughan, 60s. “My Uncle Dale was the principal of the elementary school. One Saturday, I was helping Uncle Dale and my dad brand calves. During the branding, I heard Uncle Dale use a new word which I had never heard. I thought it was a cool word and started using it all the time, including in my classroom. My teacher heard me say it and she marched me down to the principal’s office. Uncle Dale asked me where did I learn such a word and why would I be saying it. I told him I learned it from him when we were branding calves. He told me to go back to class, to stop saying this word and not to tell anyone who taught me to say this word.”
Jill Christensen Slack, 1977-83. “I think it was 4th or 5th grade. Scott Follett sat behind me and reached down my back. I thought he was getting fresh so I slapped him. Poor, kid, he just dropped his pencil.”
Michael P Black, 1967-74. “The day I stayed out on the play field after recess. Hid in a ditch with a board over me. When the bell rang for the end of the day, I walked home. My teacher called from the window, so they knew.”
Pamela Redd Anderson, 1966-1972-ish. “My favorite teachers were Maxine Lyman and Mrs. Hyde. I still remember things they taught me. Mrs. Lyman would have spelling every Friday and each week, a student could pick a word and we all had to learn to spell it along with the usual weekly list. Sue Halls picked ‘antidisestablishmentarianism.’ I still know how to spell it to this day! If you got a hundred on your spelling test, she had a can with Brach’s candy in it and the successful got to pick one. Maxine was a dear dear teacher, so kind. Mrs. Hyde read a book that became my favorite book, ‘North to Freedom’ which is my favorite to this day.”
RD Sharp, 1990-1992. “We were lining up in the hallway to go to the lunchroom by classes when I was in 5th grade and it was kind of noisy. Mr. Moore looked at his 6th grade class and said loudly, ‘I don’t want to hear a peep out of any of you!’ Tobyn Degraw then said, ‘Peep’, and everyone was laughing…if I remember right, Tobyn got a swift kick in the butt by Mr. Moore.”
Ben Rogers, 1972-79. “The day we were playing scatterball by the basketball courts on the 4-6 grade side of the school. I was running towards out of and changed direction a little when BAM, I ran right into one of the posts with my shoulder and head. My lights went out for a second or two, but they helped me up and took me inside to sit until lunch was over. I had a goose egg on my head, but was otherwise okay. I don’t know if anyone else would ever find it funny, but I still laugh when I remember grabbing onto the post and the tighter I hugged it, the faster I fell to the ground.”
Stephanie A. Madrid (Lovato), 1982-88. “I remember every week in class we would get to see who got to help in the lunch room and we would leave class early to go help the cooks get things ready and we got to hand out the milk.”
Thousands of people call Monticello Elementary School home, if only for a month or two, all seven years of school, or nearly 50 years of schooling and teaching. MES still holds a spot in the heart of these former students and teachers, with memories of childhood, cheer, bliss, amusement, and satisfaction.
What was the best thing learned at MES?
“What I learned was you can do anything you put your mind to. Always to treat others with respect and once you have set a goal strive to reach it and never give up.
“That pain and sorrow will pass with time. That hard work really will pay off in the end. That everybody struggles with something sometimes. That teachers are human, too. That not all of the best days are behind us, and not all we learn comes from the classroom and textbooks.
“In my short time at MES, I believe the best thing I learned was how to work hard in school and have fun at the same time…and to make friendships that have lasted my lifetime.
“That teachers, especially elementary teachers, have a very powerful influence for good or bad on children. I am so grateful for the good ones and the bad ones – they taught me.
“I think the best thing I learned was to take pride in my work and do my best.
“I had a great childhood growing up in Monticello. The teachers and my friends were such positive influences on me and they have had a significant impact on my life. I will always have tender feelings in regards to the friends I made and the things I learned while attending MES.
“Making friends and learning new things.
“I learned so many valuable things from MES but I would say the very best thing I learned is you will never have friends in your life like the friends you had in a small town elementary school. Those friendships and memories I will never forget.
“Best thing ever was I learned how to have fun but play fair. My class had different kids belonging to different groups. We didn’t all play together but we didn’t cause problems for the other groups.
“I could do anything.
“The best thing I learned at MES was I was loved by everyone around me, adult and child.”
Gone is the building where these memories were made, made by a community of townspeople who value their education, academically, emotionally, socially, and personally. But still alive is an amazing shiny new building, built by a community of people who value, protect, and cherish the education of their children, who hope for and expect similar memories to be forged, life lessons to be learned, confidence gained and love and kindness felt and shared.
Steve Giles, MES and MHS graduate and current principal of Blackridge Elementary School in Herriman UT, (another brand new school), said it best. “When things get tough for me,” he said, “I go back to the safest place I have ever known and that is the halls and grounds of Monticello Elementary School and think about what is good in life.”