THATCHER – Franklin County’s Thatcher Elementary School, home of the Cubs, is closing its doors Thursday for the last time as a school just short of a 100 years old. The school at the north end of Franklin County was built in 1923 and was originally built as a high school.
Thatcher is located about 26 miles north of Preston along ID-35. To get to the school turn right just past Trout Creek.
Approximately 70 students grades first through fourth are finishing the final chapter of the school’s history and will be bussed 12 miles to Grace where a new school awaits their arrival.
The school was built as a community high school and was at one time known as Central High School, Thatcher High School and then Thatcher Elementary School.
Jason Moss, the superintendent of the district, said they chose to close the school after passing a bond to build a new elementary school in Grace.
“We have been busing some students from Grace to Thatcher Elementary School,” he said. “Now, everyone from the Thatcher area will be bused the 12 miles to Grace.”
Moss said there are some folks sad to see it go but it has served its purpose. The new school is high-tech and has all the bells and whistles of a modern elementary school. No one is losing their jobs as most are going to the new elementary school.
“The new school will have kindergarten to sixth grades,” Cindy Sanchez, the head teacher at the Thatcher school, said as she boxed up small items on her desk. “This place has been a huge part of the community for so long.”
On Friday, May 21, the community asked for students and alumni to come and celebrate the Thatcher School. Former teachers Blair Findlay and Craig McGregor spoke, and guests were offered free hotdogs and a Thatcher Cub cinnamon roll for $1.
“Charlotte Skinner, now retired, wrote the school song. She came back to play her accordion,” Sanchez said. “When she played the school song, I did good until we got to the last part then it got difficult.”
Brian Hall is retiring this year. He taught fourth grade at the school for six years after teaching 29 years in Star Valley. His room has game animals like deer, elk and even a moose trophy hanging on the walls.
He said there are not many schools that would let him hang up stuff like that.
“I love the school and love the people here,” Hall said. “Just look outside this setting around the school, so nice.”
Mackenzie Ogden, a third grade teacher, said her great-grandfather went to high school here.
“Our Facebook page has old photographs from the early days of the school,” she said. “There aren’t very many schools where students can go sledding at recess.”
The school yard has a lot of playground equipment and sledding hills close by.
Thatcher is an unincorporated agriculture community with Cleveland and Mound Valley to the east and Grace to the west.
Jill Kendall, who operates Thatcher’s Post Office, said the community is very close knit and everyone knows each other.
“People here are private and protective of each other,” she said. “We have 15 Post Office boxes at the post office and mail comes from Preston for some people and Grace for others.”
Kendall said it is tough to estimate the population of the area.
Community members have used the gym to play basketball and volleyball for years and there is talk about turning the old school into a community center. After the doors close Thursday, everything will change.