When Roger and Rose Rowbury's 10th child graduates from Joaquin Elementary School, the couple will have had all of their children educated there.
"It's been a good experience," said Rose Rowbury, the part-time school secretary and occasional substitute teacher.Two Rowbury children still attend the school, and the Rowburys were among many alumni attending the school's 60th birthday party Monday.
The celebration was low key and school was not disrupted. After school a carnival and program were held, and old classmates got reacquainted.
Joaquin School, 550 N. 600 East, is tucked in just a few blocks from Brigham Young University and is surrounded by a mix of older homes and newer apartment buildings and condominiums. The area is so transitory that 60 percent of the students move every year, Principal Don Dowdle said.
The school has about 25 teachers and 439 kindergarten to sixth-grade students now, down from 475 last year. But in 1946 some 750 students attended the school with from 35 to 40 students in each class.
Opened Sept. 14, 1938, Joaquin School replaced the older Parker Elementary, which no longer exists. Its name was suggested by teacher Ida Liechty, according to school history. Joaquin was a young Laguna Indian boy who Spanish explorers used as a guide when they visited what is now Utah Valley in 1776. As Joaquin guided the Spanish explorers then, so Joaquin Elementary guides the youths of Provo, the first school librarian once said.
Built by President Franklin Roosevelt's Work Project Administration during the Depression to provide jobs, the school lacks the trim and finery that set off Timpanogos School, another older Provo school constructed by a private contractor, said district official building official Phil Lott. But what it lacks in luxury it makes up in local art.
A mural depicting a meeting between Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante and the Laguna Indians stretches across the ramp at the school. Francis Magleby painted it in 1952 as part of his master's thesis. Another mural painted by Evelyn Meiners and J.W. Jakasaki in 1954-55 depicts school activities and graces the school's north ramp.
Other art that once decorated the school includes two relief statues on both sides of the school entrance. These statues represent Escalante as he entered the valley with his guides, including Joaquin, while the other represented modern children of 1938. Repeated freezes and winter weather damaged the sculptures, done by Hughes Curtis of Springville, and they were later removed.
The school's interest in its historical Indian roots continues. A Spirit Stick patterned after the Plains Indians' coup stick represents school pride. American Indian Roger Mason painted the stick with Indian designs. Feathers representing different classes at the school, also adorn the stick.
Indian youths used a coup stick to prove their bravery. The first to touch a fallen enemy with his hand or coup stick was said to have made coup. The school uses that stick to stir up school pride today, Rowbury said.