Documenting a One-Room
Montana Schoolhouse

Beaverhead High School (Dillon, Montana)
October 31, 2001

In its first year in the Montana Heritage Project, the Montana History class in Dillon is undertaking the ambitious project of gathering the history and documenting the present of the small country schools in the area. On Halloween, nine students under the direction of teacher Jerry Girard visited the one-room school at Polaris (35 miles northwest of Dillon) and the two-room schools at Jackson, Wisdom, and Grant. On November 21, they will document two-room schools at Reichle and Wise River.

Teacher Fran Schilser (left, dressed for Halloween) is interviewed by Melissa Harrison (interviewer), Ross Wells (camera) and Kevin Hammond (sound and tape logs). Melissa attended the Polaris School until seventh grade and had Ms. Schisler as her teacher.

The materials will be donated to the Beaverhead County Museum to assist with its exhibit featuring the history of rural schools in the county. At one time, the area had more than a hundred such schools. The museum has moved the school from the abandoned silver mining camp of Argenta into Dillon to house the exhibit.

Collyn Bandelier video tapes the exterior of the school.

Brandon Kamps (white cap) and Brett Barnes compile a physical description of the site.

Inside the Polaris School, Beaverhead County High School librarian Cindy Bennet (standing, left) visits with teacher Jerry Girard (center) and Heritage Project Manager Katherine Mitchell (right). Beaverhead County Superintendent of Schools Dottie Donovan (lower left) looks on. Bennet and Donovan accompanied Girard and his students throughout the day's field expeditions.

Photos by Michael Umphrey 2001 MONTANA HERITAGE PROJECT