By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Folks gathered at the Dora Consolidated Schools Centennial and the South County Reunion were there to reminisce about school days past. They also got a glimpse into the future, as the recently remodeled school was dedicated.
With some classmates in attendance old enough to remember the start of the hot lunch program before World War II, and others talking about squeezing into the red brick gym and the Rogers gym for basketball games in the 1940s, the contrast between those days and the new school with central media center and a modern cafeteria was stark.
Guy Luscombe, who started as principal in Dora in 1962 and retired in 1990 as superintendent, said the students and the families have always been the greatest thing about the school.
In between embracing former students, the tall, gray-haired and mustached former superintendent said the toughest things he did while he was superintendent were consolidating the Causey Schools into the district in 1972 and changing to a four-day week in 1978.
“It was a dual community in some sense already,” Luscombe said of the Causey/Dora merge. “But everyone still wanted to keep their own community. I believe in the end, both communities benefited from it.”
Consolidation has been the rule over the last century, as officials estimate close to 40 schools were eventually consolidated into the Dora system.
Louise Smith lived through one of those consolidations. She attended school in Rogers until it was closed in 1957 and moved to Dora to graduate in 1958.
She also admits to being the source of the scandal of her day, when she fell in love with the ag teacher at Dora, Billy Smith, and later married him.
“If they did that today, they’d probably run you away,” Smith laughed.
By lunch more than 275 had stopped by the registration table and organizers were sure the count would go over 300 before the day was out.
Those attending helped cut the ribbon on the remodeled school, visited over barbecue, school annuals and photos and toured the new building.
Katy (McCormack) Love (class of 1952) said she always knew she would be in the top 10 of her class at Rogers because there were only nine students in the class.
She summed up what it was like to go to school in rural eastern New Mexico by saying it was like one big extended family. She said that has carried over among the consolidated schools at Dora.
“We were arch-rivals,” she said of Dora. “But we love ‘em now.”
Joann (McCormack) Blakey
Rogers Class of 1947
“We were all friendly with Dora until the ball games, then we were hostile. We really are one community now you know.”
Blakey, the daughter of Rogers-area homesteaders, said her father was part of the first graduating class at Rogers in 1926.
Donna (Luker) Victor
Dora Class of 1950
“I enjoyed sports and classes, too. Seems like we were all pretty close.”
Victor said she and her husband Bennie Victor, also a Dora graduate, each married their school sweethearts but each lost their original love to death. They were married 10 years ago.
Dora Class of 1940
“We used to have to bring our lunch. Then we got the lunchroom and we had to go over and get the box lunch and bring it back to the classroom.”
Kyte, who started school in Rogers and attended his last three years in Dora, said when the hot lunch program began it was just soup. Students had to bring their own bowl from home.
Kyte and classmate Bennie Victor said they drove a school bus while they were in junior high because during World War II drivers weren’t available.