Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 Church Directory
Ethan Haus pumped water at Kragero one room school while Arthur Kivisto looked on. (Patriot Photo by Mary Nehring).
Volunteer Brenda (Campbell) Stang helps student Aria Swenson with her embroidery project. (Patriot Photo by Mary Nehring).

One room school comes to life

School was in session for a few days in Santiago township for an annual program offered through Becker Community Education in a historic one-room school in mid-June. 

The Kragero school is owned by Tom Barthel and his wife Gail Wilkinson, who purchased the historic school from the Becker School district in 1995. The couple graciously allows the school to be used every summer and allows local children to experience what life was like many decades ago — attending school in a one room school house. 

Teachers came dressed in period clothing. Children were taught daily lessons including the three “R”’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) by former Kragero students Judy (Erickson) Larsén, Karen (Erickson) Sakry and Gloria (Erickson) Palmer - all of who attended the Kragero one room school in the 1950’s and 1960’s until it consolidated with Becker schools in 1967. At the time the gals attended school, there were 16 students enrolled at Kragero. The one room school closed in 1967 and consolidated with Becker Public School. 

The students also sang old time and patriotic songs, made daily crafts, played games of a bygone era such as The Old Brass Wagon and Red Rover. Kids pumped water near the school house, washed clothes on a board, made butter, enjoyed a nature hike and had a picnic by the creek on the school property. 

The annual summer program started over 30 years ago (1994) and is hosted by the Erickson family, whose relatives emigrated from Kragero, Norway to Santiago Township (north of Becker) in the 1880’s. There was a need for a school in the area and the schoolhouse was built near the Jens Ellefson farm. The original log cabin Jens and Sigrid lived in was recently relocated next to Kragero School. These Norwegian immigrants decided there was a need for a school and held their first meeting in the summer of 1897.

Mary (Erickson) Nehring’s grandmother, Lillie Ellefson andher dad and his brothers also attended Kragero school. 

The school building was also used as a church for several years in its early years. The loan for the school building was $450, at four percent interest for 10 years. The first teacher who taught at Kragero school (District 47) earned $100 for the entire school year. That first year, school was only in session for five months.

The last day of school, the students put on a program and enjoyed wagon rides and a bonfire after school let out.