Tell Us Your Westside Story launches April 1, according to Lori Gleichman, a consultant working with The Bean Foundation.
“The Tell Us Your Westside Story campaign celebrates the iconic building on the south end of town that has served as Madras Union High School, Madras Junior High and Westside Elementary,” said Gleichman. “Today, it continues to house other youth programs. Since 1938, thousands of students, teachers, staff, families and community members have created memories in these buildings still owned by the Jefferson County School District. We want to collect and document those memories in the form of stories, oral histories or through memorabilia. So, if you went to one of these schools, we want to hear from you.”
The Bean Foundation is partnering with the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Jefferson County Library District on the Tell Us Your Westside Story campaign. People have three ways to contribute. Use the online story form at westsidecampaign.com, download a paper form from the website or pick one up at the library; donate school memorabilia at the library; or schedule time to videotape an oral history. You can learn more details about the campaign and find release forms for memorabilia and oral histories at westsidecampaign.com.
“The idea grew out of the Bean Foundation’s interest in restoring and renovating the Westside School into a community campus,” said Gleichman. “As we began to plan for a capital campaign in 2020, we couldn’t find much documentation about the histories of and memories about the different schools. The Jefferson County Historical Society and library didn’t have much either. So, we decided to reach out directly to the generations of people who consider time at these schools as part of their personal histories and ask for their stories. Regardless of where you live today, please help us recapture this buildings history.”
The campaign is looking for stories about people and places, activities, experiences and events at the high school, junior high, and elementary schools. “Think in terms of, ‘My favorite teacher was… because…’ or ‘The time my friend and I…’ or ‘When the basketball team…,’“said Gleichman. “These stories can be written, or we’ll have four days when the library will be videotaping oral histories.”
Appointments to videotape oral histories at the Jefferson County Library are available on April 22, April 24, May 20 and May 22. You must reserve a time by calling 541-350-3106 and you must complete a registration/release form. They are available online or in paper form at the library.
The campaign will also accept memorabilia that is clean and in good condition, such as year books, trophies, photographs, letters and letter jackets. Release forms are available online at westsidecampaign.com or can be picked up at the library. Items can be dropped off (with release forms attached) at the library during open hours.
Tell Us Your Westside Story was going to be part of the launch of the capital campaign to raise funds to restore and renovate Westside School, explained Gleichman. However, the Bean Foundation decided to delay the fundraising so it — and other community resources — could focus on funding needs driven by the pandemic. This spring, as things begin to turn more positive, seemed the right time to reconsider the idea of capturing 80 years or memories and memorabilia in anticipation of launching a capital campaign at some point in the future.
“We’re excited to start reading, hearing and seeing the memories people have of the schools between 1938 and today,” Gleichman said. All contributions will become part of the collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society.