Wolford School hosts final student, staff awards night
Tears and tributes marked Wolford School’s final student and staff awards ceremony held last Tuesday night in the school’s gym.
The families of the 46 students attending the school sat at long cafeteria tables to socialize and enjoy a pot luck supper before the assembly. Girls in dresses and boys in button-down shirts and ties chatted with parents, grandparents, teachers and Wolford alumni as they prepared for a big night of certificates, pins, and recognition for their achievements.
News of the school’s permanent closing came late last week, shocking some in the tight-knit community, but others said they weren’t surprised.
The family of 2019 Class Valedictorian Koby Marchus said the school holds many special memories for them. Koby’s older sister graduated from Wolford two years ago, and Wolford school alumni in his family go back five generations.
Koby’s grandmother, Susan Hartvickson Marchus, told the Tribune, “My father graduated in ’45, and my grandmother graduated from here.”
Another grandmother attending the ceremony, Iona Slaubaugh, said, “Did you know, we graduated in ’64, and our two sons turned around and graduated in ’86.”
Susan Marchus’ son, Josh, was a member of Wolford High’s Class of 1986. “It felt great (to be a part of Wolford School),” Josh Marchus reflected, adding he was “very sad” about the school’s closing.
“Lot of memories in here,” Josh said of the school building.
Teachers and school staff expressed bittersweet feelings about the end of Wolford School.
Junior high and high school science teacher Bill Langer said he would miss his students and the students he coached in trapshooting, air and sport shooting.
“Wolford has the only high school air rifle and air pistol club in North Dakota,” Langer said. “It’s the Olympic style shooting; that’s why we went to the National Junior Olympic Championships. The girls went to the National Olympic Training Center and shot where the Olympic athletes shoot. It’s quite an experience for them.”
Langer added he hoped to continue his teaching career in another rural school. “The communities are closer; parents are involved. It means that you have the one-to-one contact with students and you know who they are.”
Kindergarten teacher Susan Rosenkranz said, “I taught in Towner for 20 years, and then Rugby.” Rosenkranz said she came out of retirement to teach at Wolford. “I taught here just two years. I was hired for one year, because they thought they’d close, then, I ended up teaching two years. And this is the best school I’ve ever taught in. The big kids and the little kids love each other, and the staff is all close, and I’m just going to miss it, big time,” she said.
Social studies teacher Ken Higbee, retired from Rugby’s school district as well. “I loved (teaching at Wolford). It was fantastic,” he said.
Wanita Olson, the school’s business manager, wore many hats at the tiny school. Olson said she involved herself in teaching activities and served as an advisor for two school groups. “I’m the FBLA advisor and the yearbook advisor. I also facilitate online classes for 7-12. They do a variety of online classes, business classes, and a huge plethora of electives. I graduated from here; I’ve lived here my whole life,” she noted.
Olson said she and her husband lived in a larger community while attending college, but they returned to Wolford. “I came back to Wolford when my oldest son was going to be in kindergarten after I graduated from college,” she noted with a smile. “There was no question this is where I wanted him to go to school. And he graduated from here, and now I have three more sons in school here. Wolford has been a part of my life since, forever!”
Olson said she would choose the district where her children would attend school depending on where she found new employment.
School board member Josh Anderson, who presented an award to Principal and Superintendent Larry Zavada at the ceremony, said he too grew up in the community and graduated from Wolford School. Anderson’s wife, Danica, also graduated from Wolford, along with her parents, and Anderson’s father. The Andersons said they planned to send their children to the Rugby School District.
Anderson said he’d miss Wolford School “without a doubt. The kids do well here. They’re encouraged to do well here. Multiple clubs, groups, sports, archery, different things kids are in it, and they do awesome. I don’t think there’s any better education.”
Student Cole Martodam invited students and their families to take a tree sapling to commemorate the event. The saplings were provided by Cole’s mother, Crystal Martodam, who works at the Pierce County Soil Conservation District.
As Zavada presented staff awards, he paused several times with a catch in his throat. Once in awhile, he wiped his eyes with tissue. Zavada praised the dedication displayed by Wolford’s teachers, from retirees Joel and Carol Braaten, Higbee and Rosenkranz. He said Carol Braaten, like many in the community, was a Wolford School graduate herself. He described Rachel Johnson’s first year of teaching, which began with a chat in a grocery store and included taking college semester hours at night and pulling calves some mornings.
“And Mr. Braaten and I were talking, and we believe, top to bottom, this is the best staff Wolford School’s ever had,” Zavada said. “You kids are getting something really good, and” His voice trailed off as he wiped his eyes. “So, we’re thankful, and it’s a good time to celebrate the future.”
Awards were presented to students in the following categories:
First and second grade (reading awards): Phoebe Clay, Aaron Yoder, Isaac Anderson, and Isaiah Clay.
Third and fourth grade: Peyton Morrow, Lane Martodam, Anna Clay, Hunter Anderson, Logan Olson, Noah Anderson (reading certificates) ; Peyton Morrow, participant, Pierce County Spelling Bee; Logan Olson third grade, first place in the Pierce County Spelling Bee
Fifth and sixth grade: Deborah Clay, Alexis Yoder, Layton Olson, North Dakota Reading Certificates;
Perfect Attendance: Layton Olson, Alexis Yoder, Logan Olson
Math awards: Kaitlyn Slaubaugh, highest score; Ashton Wendland, most improved
Science awards: Emily Yoder, highest average in physical science; Ashton Wendland, highest average, 10th grade class; Kaitlin Slaubaugh, highest average in chemistry (junior year); Koby Marchus, chemistry (senior year); Reuben Clay, seventh grade life science; Kaitlin Slaubaugh, junior/senior health; Koby Marchus, forensics
Shooting club awards: Kaitlin Slaubaugh, silver medal ,women’s sport pistol and women’s air pistol, North Dakota Junior Olympics; Emily Yoder, gold medal in women’s air pistol and women’s sport pistol, North Dakota Junior Olympics, bronze medal, National Women’s Sport Pistol Championship/Junior Olympics; Koby Marchus, Men’s air rifle, Wolford Shooting Club plaque, $1,000 scholarship, Civilian Marksmanship Program; Kyle Yoder, Men’s air rifle, Wolford Shooting Club plaque
FBLA awards: Zachary Morrow, Koby Marchus, Kaitlin Slaubaugh, Elijah Clay, Cody Yoder, Ashton Wendland, Cole Slaubaugh, Sierra Tofte: recognition for blood donation at FBLA blood drive; Kyle Yoder, Koby Marchus, Zachary Morrow delegates to National FBLA Conference in San Antonio
Yearbook staff recognition: Baleigh Conner (Year 1); Kyla Slaubaugh (Year 2); Kyle Yoder, Emily Yoder, Kaylee Schell, Kiara Slaubaugh (Year 3); Sierra Tofte, Ashton Wendland, Cole Slaubaugh, Cody Yoder, (Year 4); Kaitlin Slaubaugh and Zachary Morrow (Year 5); Koby Marchus, (Year 6).
Student Council: Koby Marchus, Elijah Clay, Amber Slaubaugh, Cody Yoder, Tyrel Yoder, Reuben Clay, Zachary Morrow, Cole Martodam, Kaitlin Slaubaugh, Cole Slaubaugh, Ryan Slaubaugh
Knowledge Bowl team members recognized: Junior high: Reuben Clay, Kyla Slaubaugh, Katie Yoder, Baleigh Conner, Ryan Slaubaugh; High school: Koby Marchus, Kaitlin Slaubaugh, Emily Yoder, Kyle Yoder, Sarah Clay
Pierce County Spelling Bee junior high recognition: Abigail Lewis
Honor Roll for four quarters: Koby Marchus, Kyle Yoder, Elijah Clay; Cody Yoder, Kaitlin Slaubaugh, Sierra Tofte, Sarah Clay, Kaylee Schell, Kiara Slaubaugh, Emily Yoder, Kaite Yoder, Kyle Schell, Reuben Clay, Baileigh Conner
Elementary Honor Roll (all four quarters): Deborah Clay, Alexis Yoder, Elizabeth Lewis, Peyton Morrow, Layton Olson, Ashley Martodam, Halle Handegard, Anna Clay, Kaydance King
Athletes honored: Zach Morrow, 12th grade, certificate for participating in basketball, letter in basketball, pin and bar; Elijah Clay, 11th grade; certificate for participating in football and track, lettered in football, football pin and bar, bar for track; Kaitlin Slaubaugh, 11th grade, certificate for participation in volleyball, lettered in volleyball, volleyball pin and bar; Cody Yoder, 11th grade, certificate for participation in football and basketball, bar for football and basketball; Cole Slaubaugh, 11th grade; certificate for participation in basketball and track, bar for basketball and track; Sierra Tofte, 10th grade, certificate for participation in track, lettered in track, receiving a letter, pin and bar; Ashton Wendland, 10th grade, certificate for participation in basketball, lettered in basketball, basketball pin and bar; Sarah Clay, ninth grade, certificate for participation in basketball; Emily Yoder, ninth grade, certificate for participation in volleyball; Tyrell Yoder, ninth grade, certificate for participation in football, basketball and track, lettered in basketball, receiving pin and bar, bar for football and track; Kyla Slaugbaugh, eighth grade, certificate for participation in volleyball; Katie Yoder, eighth grade, certificate for participation in basketball and track, bar for track; Reuben Clay, seventh grade, certificate for participation in football and track, lettered in track, letter for track, pin and bar; Baleigh Conner, seventh grade, certificate for participation in volleyball.
Deborah Clay, sixth grade, certificate for participation in volleyball and track, and Ashley Martodam, sixth grade, certificate for participation in basketball and track.
North Dakota Association of School Principals Academic All-State Team: Koby Marchus, Honorable Mention Award
Wolford School Class of 2019 Valedictorian: Koby Marchus
Wolford School Class of 2019 Salutatorian: Kyle Yoder
Red Hero Chord of Appreciation for participation in the Wolford School Blood Drive: Zachary Morrow, Koby Marchus
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