Rural schools such as Ranchvale important

Don McAlavy: Local Columnist

Ranchvale Elementary School northwest of Clovis has quite a history.

The first school in that area was located two miles east of present Ranchvale, taught by A.J. Reid. It was open only three months each year.

In 1917-18, when four neighboring schools consolidated, they agreed to open Ranchvale Elementary School with grades one through 12, located a mile south of its present site.

The four schools to consolidate were Sunshine, Ideal, Bethel, and Fertile Valley. All agreed on Ranchvale as the name of the consolidated school. Vernon Tate donated the land for the school and gave the school its name.

The Tates had 11 children, almost enough to start their own school. The Tate place, on the original homestead of Vernon and Ada Tate, became quite a social event.

The Tates operated the post office in their home. They had the first windmill in the community. Neighbors came from miles around to haul water in barrels in wagons and on sleds to their homesteads. It became a stopover for homesteaders from the Caprock area going to Clovis to sell or trade posts and wood for food and supplies. People sat around campfires, visiting and telling tales.

In 1919 a two-story school was erected one mile north of the Tates, and still stands there today. The school taught all 12 grades and was one of the first consolidated schools in New Mexico. In 1957 this school was added as an elementary school to the Clovis Municipal School system.

“My first grade teacher at Ranchvale,” said the late Haney Tate, “was Miss Cleo Allcorn, back in the 1920s. I was only 11 or 12 years old.

“I fell in love with my teacher. In fact, one day my school chum Edward Kelly and I had a real fight over who was going to marry Miss Cleo when we grew up. She brought us into the school room, scolded us and made us tell each other we were sorry.

“She was quite famous for us kids as she was one of the four Allcorn girls quartet who sang for churches, schools and other events, directed by their father, S. S. Allcorn. She was really a doll, petite, pretty and a great singer. I looked her up a few years ago. She had married a wealthy lumber man in Roswell while I was still in grade school. She never had to spank any of us, and she kept good order in the classroom, too.”

Many generations of children attended the school, from families such as the Qualls, Tates, Lockmillers, Matlocks, Davenports, Pattons, Mizes, Reids, Tiffins, Lewises and many more too numerous to name here.

My family lived near the Ranchvale school for four years. Between 1974 and 1978, our youngest child, Keevy, attended the school. He grew up to be a whiz kid and I credit the Ranchvale School for his start.

I grew up in a rural school too. The Claud School was a few miles northeast of Ranchvale, and I can honestly say that I was no whiz kid but I learned more in that rural school, created life-long relationships, and had more attention from the teachers than I ever had in crowded city schools.

Clovis Municipal Schools is considering closing Ranchvale Elementary for budgetary reasons.

Like saving Cannon Air Force Base, saving Ranchvale School should be considered, too.