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Stoker School, Rampton have a big birthday bash

BOUNTIFUL — Residents celebrated the birthdays of two prominent local figures Saturday — the Stoker School, which opened its door 100 years ago , and one of the school's oldest living graduates, former Gov. Calvin L. Rampton, who turned 92.

Old photographs of students and the school lined the walls of the auditorium where former Stoker students and members of the community gathered during the program celebrating the centennial of the Stoker School on Nov. 5.

"It was 85 years ago, early in September, that I first attended this school," Rampton told the audience.

He reminisced about the years he spent at the school and the trouble he got into while a student there.

"I engaged in a number of fist fights," he said. "I don't know why since I never won any of them."

Rampton also recalled D.R. Tolman, the second principal of the school who worked there for more than 40 years, from 1914 to 1951. Tolman was a strict disciplinarian who often rapped students on the knuckles with a ruler when they misbehaved and hung a razor strap from a wall in the schoolhouse to use for more severe punishments, Rampton said.

Although he said he never saw the strap used on a student, and neither had any of the other students, every kid in the school knew of someone who got the strap.

"That razor strap was the greatest disciplinary tool this school has had," Rampton said.

Although the school has seen many changes over the years, it has continued to promote standards of education within the community, said Joyce Benard, member of the Bountiful Historical Commission and Stoker alumnus.

"The stories these walls could tell," she mused.

There were many stories shared about the old brick building by graduates and friends of the school. Most of the stories centered around the many friends students made and the wonderful experiences they had.

"I have a lot of passion for Bountiful city and for the Stoker School," said City Councilman Tom Tolman, a member of the Bountiful Historical Commission. "Stoker School has been a wonderful place for the city of Bountiful."

The Stoker School opened its doors in 1905 to 400 eager young pupils in the first through sixth grades from Farmington to North Salt Lake. Over the past century the school has served the community as an elementary school, then as a high school and finally as a university annex when the building was converted into the Bountiful extension of the University of Utah in 1981.

The school is named after John Stoker, who donated part of his farm land to build a school in 1905. The structure did not have any plumbing or electricity at the time of construction, but "the outhouses are large and well taken care of," wrote Leo Muir, the first principal of the school from 1905 to 1914. And the water for those first students was provided by a nearby horse trough.

The celebration ended with two renditions of "Happy Birthday" sung for both Rampton and the Stoker School, and with a birthday cake for each.


E-mail: mwitte@desnews.com