4:08 p.m. PDT June 7, 2016
Whiteaker Middle School in Keizer celebrated its 50th birthday Monday.
To celebrate, students and staff held presentations about the school, took photos together, and laughed and reminisced as they shared memories for the Whiteaker time capsule.
Dozens of people crowded the library, sitting in chairs facing a screen with photos displayed. Balloons and other decorations in the school’s colors filled the room.
Speakers recognized the hard work of Whiteaker’s educators and students past and present, having the Wolverines — or Warriors, depending on when they were part of the school — from different decades stand to be applauded.
Whiteaker began as a junior high in fall 1965, serving 746 students in grades 7-9.
The junior high was housed in the west wing of McNary High School until the building at 1605 Lockhaven Drive was completed for the 1968-69 school year. In 1995, sixth grade was added to Whiteaker.
Named after Oregon’s first governor, John Whiteaker, the school currently serves about the same number of students as when it opened.
However, in 2000-01 Whiteaker had 1,330 students. It was the largest middle school in the state at the time, according to school officials, with 14 portable classrooms used on campus.
With the opening of Claggett Creek Middle School, Whiteaker’s student enrollment dropped to 700.
“Whiteaker is successful today because of what Whiteaker was in the past,” said assistant principal Tami Badinger Monday afternoon. “You are forever our touchstone.”
Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal. Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com