EAST BETHEL — Alder River Grange 145 held its annual Reunion of the Scholars meeting Sunday, June 30, at which 20 former students of the East Bethel School shared memories and the 2013 Grange Community Service Award was presented.

Stan Howe, lecturer pro-tem for the Grange and associate director of the Bethel Historical Society, received a special certificate for his 55 years of service with the grange. Member Alvin Stevens also received a certificate.

Howe said Monday afternoon that he felt “old” after receiving the certificate, though other members have as many as 80 years with the Grange.

“I still have a long way to go before I reach that point,” Howe said, laughing. “I joined when I was 14, so it doesn’t seem all that impressive, but 55 years later, I’m still a member of the Grange.”

Members described what it was like to attend East Bethel School, a small two-room schoolhouse that housed students in grades one through three from 1928 to 1968. Alder River Grange Overseer James Haines made a PowerPoint presentation that showed East Bethel School’s activities and groups during its 40 years of operation.

Howe shared his recollections of the building.

“There were two rooms in the school, but one of them was for the staff,” Howe explained. “That meant all of the grades up to the third grade were crammed in one room. You learned a lot of stuff sitting shoulder to shoulder with kids like that. Our teacher was able to do a lot of stuff for us, even though she had very little to work with. It was an idyllic place, and a wonderful little start to my education.”

One of the “special guests” of the reunion, Howe said, was 103-year-old Edna Bean York, who was the first teacher at the East Bethel School.

“Her father actually built the school in 1928,” Howe said. “Her uncle was the one who put in the electricity. She’s still going strong, even at 103. She’s still as sharp as a tack. It’s amazing that she’s able to still make it out here,” he said.

Resident Arlene Harrington received the 2013 Grange Community Service Award, according to a news release by Haines, for her “many years of service to the East Bethel region, particularly in relation to the church and cemetery.”

Howe presented Harrington with the award.

Alder River Grange also received $52 of donations during the reunion, which will benefit the Bethel Food Pantry.

Grange Secretary Nancy Mercer was in charge of providing refreshments.

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