Rockvale School had a Kindergarten from 1900-1902
Article from booklet Camp and Plant
Rockvale School saw many students pass through its doors
Mary Drenick–WAS 99 IN 2003
Mary Jenny Drenick passed away on October 8, 2003
Mary Drenick, front left, celebrated her 99th birthday with family and friends (from left in back, Arnie and Jackie Madrid and Norma Archuleta; front row, Mary Drenick and Helen Ashbaugh) at the Apple Shed in Penrose.
“People aren’t 99 everyday,” she said.
She was born Aug. 11, 1904 in Rockvale. The oldest of 10 brothers and sisters she attended Rockvale Grade School and then Florence High School, where she rode to school in a horse-drawn wagon, provided by John Kile, who owned the Rockvale livery service.
She studied by the light of a kerosene lamp. Miss Drenick also earned a degree from Colorado Teachers College, now the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She also attended classes at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Colorado College in Colorado Springs. “I started teaching when I was 16,” she said. “I retired 47 years later.”
“Mary did not miss a single day of school in that time,” said her only living sister, Helen Ashbaugh. Drenick taught in Rockvale until the district closed the school, then she taught in Florence until she retired. “She was in her later 50s or early 60s when she learned to drive,” Ashbaugh said.
Over the years Miss Drenick enjoyed teaching and meeting new students. “She still has students visit her when they come to town,” Ashbaugh said. “One of her students still tells her , ‘I owe everything I know to you.’”
Drenick was a charter and is a current member of the Daughters of Isabella and a current member of the Oblates. She was also a member of the local, state, and national education associations when she was still teaching. In addition, she coached several Rockvale and Florence students in county spelling bee victories.
She was selected Distinguished Citizen for the 1971 Florence Pioneer Day festivities and Rockvale Distinguished Citizen at the Rockvale 100th anniversary celebration in 1986. Drenick was a lifetime member of the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Rockvale.
During the Aug. 18, 1985, St. Benedict’s annual picnic, it was designated Mary Drenick Day. The Florence Business and Professional Women’s Club also honored her as the Woman of the Year.
Children in the seventh and eighth grades ranged from 14 to 18 years of age; especially the boys. Boys entered the coal mines as young as 10 years of age. When the mines worked the boys worked; when the mines were idle the boys returned to school. Families were large and the little money earned by the boys helped support the family. Girls, too, were often absent from school, helping their mothers on washdays or tending young children when mothers were ill. Thus, many boys and girls never finished the eighth grade, which was the goal set by most parents. Since they were older, many felt humiliated to be in the same grade with young children, and after the fourth or fifth grade, they stayed out of school. The younger members of a fami1y usually continued on as there was not the same condition at home, and many continued on to high school and a few to college.
Transportation–The majority of the pupils from Rockvale School completed their high school education it in Florence. The first pupils to attend the Florence High School walked to and from school. Later the school district made arrangements with a local livery stable proprietor to drive the pupils to and from school in one of his hacks.
As the number of pupils attending high school increased and the school district was in good financial condition, a school bus was purchased for the purpose of transportation. With the coming of the depression, it became impossible for the district to pay for the transportation costs. As a result, the school bus was sold.
Some of the teachers who taught at the Rockvale School throughout the years included: N. V. Gorman, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Logan, Sarah Lloyd, Maude Angel, Theresa Cresto, Mary Drenick, Mary Rupp, Jennette Stephens, Louise Camerlo, Mr. & Mrs. Holloway, Rita Balagna, Mary Balagna, Charlotte Gerlach, Pauline Witcher, Mary Vezzetti, Rose Cologne, Thelma Daily, Hope John, Ruth Grant, Margaret Gretencourt, Franny Gafford.