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Old school house provides new lessons

Posted 11/17/15 (Tue)

Old school house provides new lessons

By Cecile Krimm
Another Boy Scout is joining a group of high achievers in the Crosby community Sunday, when his family and fellow scouts celebrate his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.
Keaton Oien is a senior at Divide County High School and the only one of his classmates to have stuck out the long scouting road to the Eagle rank. If not for the guidance of Scoutmaster Tammy Knudson, he says he might not have made it.
“She just kept pushing me,” Keaton said, even as time was running out.
He finished his project -- the repainting of the McCollough School -- just days shy of his 18th birthday, an age requirement set by Boy Scouts of America.
“It was pretty close,” said Keaton’s mom, Kari.
With the help of friends, family and the willingness of brothers Gene and Dirk Olson to agree to the project, he got the project done, along with four other merit badges he needed to obtain over the summer to finish all of the work required for Boy Scouts’ highest rank.
The painting project required organizing helpers to assist in hours of scraping before the actual painting could begin and arranging for scaffolding to lift the painters to the highest peak.
In all, over 300 man-hours were involved, but it wasn’t all work. Dirk advised Keaton to have fun with the project, and he did.
So did his friends.
“They like to take breaks, mess around, throw paint on each other,” said Keaton, but it was his job to try to keep everyone on task.
Staying on task is something, it turns out, Keaton is actually pretty good at. He started in Scouts as a first grader, but by grade 5, three or four other classmates who started with him had dropped out.
“I love the camping experiences and I like looking up to the older ones,” Keaton said, so he kept going. “I love the outdoors.”
One of the more memorable outings was during a May snowstorm in 2011. While the storm all but shut down the town of Crosby and caused widespread flooding, Keaton and cohorts were holed up in Stanley, unable to make it home.
Memories like that one contribute to Keaton’s take-away from Scouting.
“Just being prepared -- for storms, for accidents, for anything,” he said. “It teaches you how to help other people in the community.”
Kari feels Keaton’s scouting career has contributed to his confidence level, in general.
Keaton agrees.
“I feel way more confident in getting school work done and things like that,” he said.
Following high school, he plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice at Minot State University.
While the Olsons were in discussion with a professional painter to do the job, they were happy when Keaton agreed to organize the work project instead. It fit the Eagle project requirement of serving a community, church or school.
“Our grandmother taught school there 100 years ago,” said Gene, during the 1914-15 school year. Dirk and two of his siblings also attended the school for a period.
“He told me he used to ride his horse there,” said Keaton.
“We hope we can keep it dry and solid for the rest of our years of stewardship,” Gene said. “It’s always been important in the family to keep it up.”
His uncle, Paul Redlin, years ago had a tin roof installed to preserve the building.
The school house is located 10 miles south of Crosby on ND 42.
“It’s memorable to the family and I think it’s very good to keep some of these historical things up at the site where they were used,” said Gene.
Now the building will be memorable for the lessons it provided Crosby’s newest Eagle Scout, as well.
The Court of Honor starts at 7 p.m.