Greg Gerding

Sewer lines and calculus classes were important issues discussed during tonight’s school board meeting but these gatherings also supply us with fun little nuggets of information. School board member Greg Gerding shared something that I enjoyed hearing. It involved a trip that he went on up to Salem with superintendent Melissa Goff to join a group of Oregon School Boards Association folks to lobby legislators for more education funding.

I’ll let Greg take it from here:

“Prior to a session on the house floor, our group was ushered into a seating area and we began a conversation with our house usher and he turned out to be Mr. Lowell Gavette, a 1957 graduate of Philomath High School.

“Mr. Gavette and his class was the first graduating class from the new Philomath High School where the high school is right now. For those of you — and I think everybody in this room is too young except for me — I saw the old high school burn down in the spring of 1956 where Troy’s True Value complex is right now.”

I’ve written in the past about the fire that destroyed PHS in 1956 and the hardships that administration, teachers and students had to endure to finish up the school year. But as Greg pointed out, it wasn’t long before a new school was erected.

“The high school burned down in the spring of 1956 and the new high school was built and students started attending that fall in 1956,” Gerding said. “In six months, they built a new high school — unheard of.”

Gavette joined the military soon after graduating — based on what I could find out about him in old newspapers. He and his wife a few years later had a daughter when he was stationed in Germany. His father was Douglas Gavette and Lowell ended up settling in Salem.

Gerding took time to go take a look at Lowell’s photo. He’s included with the Class of 1957 photo that’s hanging in the hallway at Philomath High.

Based on that graduation year, Mr. Gavette must be in the vicinity of 80 years old.

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