First Trona students — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1918
Trona’s First Schools
The Searles Valley Story (1) has the following to say about Trona’s schools:”The Trona School District was established in October 23, 1916, in a one room building, with one teacher. In 1918 a new schoolhouse was built. It was one large room with folding partitions in the center. A large porch ran all around the building. This was built in and used as additional schoolroom space some years later. The schoolhouse was also used for recreational purposes. There was a picture show once a week. AP & CC furnished the building free of charge until the new school was built in 1941, and also furnished supplies for quite a while with the county only having to pay salaries.
“The old school was located in the building that later became the Department Store and is still standing, at least it was in 2010. It had grades one through eight. The upper grade students had to go elsewhere for high school. Most of them went to Lancaster as they had dormitories there. In 1923 Trona had two teachers and by 1928 the school had three teachers. In 1917 a school was erected at Borosolvay (that is where we lived when we lived in Borosolvay (2)) near the plant and continued until the plant was shut down in 1919. After the school closed the students were sent to Trona School.
[After the Borosolvay school was shut down a train carried the children who lived in Borosolvay to the school in Trona.]
This train is still running as part of the Niles Canyon Railway Museum in Brightside, CA where you may be able to take a ride on it.
“In 1933, a cottage was built on the east side of the school for a kindergarten. By 1936 it was necessary to expand again and a house at the rear of the school was remodeled. It formerly had housed the waitresses. The second grade moved into this room and by this time there were six teachers. In 1937 the grade school reached an all time high enrollment of 180 pupils.”In 1939 and 1940 a ninth and tenth grade were added; and since there was no room to build onto the school building, AP & CC gave the school a house on Magnolia Street. The present school was completed in the fall, just before World War II, and it became the Trona Unified District.” (If my memory is correct it became the Trona Joint Unified School District when the Ruth Mine school was closed.)
Patricia Stevens Banks (3) adds, “I attended first grade in the building that they said was used for second grade. I don’t know exactly when we moved to the new school, but I do know it was after Christmas. I started first grade in September 1941. We packed up our things before a school holiday and when we went back it was to the new school.”The building we (the Stevens family) lived in in Borosolvay was the old [Borosolvay] school house. When we first moved in it, it had been made into four apartments and there was a hall down the middle which went to the bathroom at one end. I think all of the apartments must have shared the bathroom, but I was so young at the time that I don’t remember for sure. We moved to another building for awhile while it was remodeled into 2 apartments each with its own bathroom.”When I was in junior high the Lewis family lived in the same apartment that we [used to live] in. (Juanita, Art, Vernon, etc.) I don’t remember ever going in it after we moved out. This is where we lived during the 1941 strike and it had already been remodeled then. I was about 2 when we moved in. It was before Joel was born.”
Marydith Haughton (4) wrote, ” [The old Trona School] building was also used for community functions as well as Sunday School and Church services……”Since there was no high school in town, students going on to the higher grades had to attend school elsewhere. They either stayed with relatives or friends in San Bernardino, Lancaster or Los Angeles. However a school bus did transport kids five days a week to high school in Randsberg through the 1942 school year.”In 1940 – 1941 school year AP&CC furnished a house on Magnolia Street for the ninth and tenth graders. The 11th and 12th graders continued to travel to Randsberg until the 1941 – 1942 school year. On September 29, 1941 the present school was ready and opened for classes with eight teachers and a principal who taught one class. In June 1942 there were 14 graduates celebrating the commencement ceremonies.”The school enrollment has continued up and down over the years. Today  there are 460 students.”
I received the following email Friday, February 14, 2003:
I read, with interest, tonight, the hyperlink to the Trona Schools in this website. I would like to add a little more information from my find memories of the old school. My name is Ray Bell. I was in the graduating class of 1950. I started school at the old one pictured in the article. I remember it quite well and recall that I used to spend lots
of time during recess going out into the play yard and dig holes because we were so close to the lake that we could dig down about elbow deep and get water. That was fascinating to me. I also remember the porch around the school and that the wide steps of the porch going down to ground level were used for class group pictures.
Regarding dates when we moved to the new (present) school, I vividly remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed, going to the old school and all we did for a day or two, at least it seems to me now that it was that long, is that we sat around in our class and the teacher brought a radio to class and we just listened to Pearl Harbor news. I suppose that was, in those days, and “on line” education in history – in the making. So, it must have been after Pearl Harbor that we moved over to the new school. Thanks for the extremely interesting web sight on Trona.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was December 7, 1941. This would be consistent with the memories of of Ray Bell and my sister Patricia.
(1) Searles Valley Story was written and published by Searles Lake Branch of American Association of University Women in 1975 for the national bicentennial.
The pictures below were sent to me by the Fred Austin family.