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Photo and story by Clint Branham Communica ons Specialist


A


growing Grand Lake community gathered last fall to celebrate progress and the prospect of an


even brighter future.


Thanks to a bond issue approved by Delaware County residents in November 2015, the Cleora school will soon be preparing students for the next stop on their educa onal journey with a more modern facility. The bond will fund a 30,000 square-foot project with a price tag set at just over $4 million dollars.


“It took a huge show of support from the community to make this a reality,” remarked Cleora Superintendent Kenny Guthrie. “I think there was an overwhelming realiza on of the need we have here. This building is old and has a lot of issues. The average age of a school


4 - NE Connection


in the U.S. is forty years old. Ours is 75. So we have almost doubled the average age of most schools. It was  me. We want to make sure we are s ll teaching kids in Cleora 75 years from now. It helps secure the future of this school and this community for the kids and families the school serves.”


Guthrie is hopeful that, if all goes according to plan, Cleora students will start the 2017-2018 school year in the new building


“We believe a 10-month project is a possibility. Our hope is to be in by August of next year,” he said. “Construc on can be very unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances can hold up progress but, without major setbacks, we feel like it could be a good possibility.”


Educa on has been vital to the fabric of the Cleora community for more than a century. In fact, Cleora has a proud tradi on of educa ng its children that pre-dates statehood. There has been at least one schoolhouse in the area since 1880, when the Cherokee Na on Superintendent’s Offi ce sent Robert L. Owen to construct a small, one-room school building on a site selected for its proximity to a spring. Sallie Cavalier would arrive on horseback a short  me later from the seminary at Tahlequah to take charge of the school.


The original school was situated a half-mile south and half-mile east of the present-day Kahoot’s Convenience Store. The building was also used for community mee ngs and social events. Sunday school and church services were


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