If you have ever dreamed of living in a beautiful place where the fresh mountain air conjures images of heaven; the great American outdoors beckons from the front and/or back door; the deer and other wildlife play just outside the window; walking to a favorite fishing hole is an option; neighbors are nice; the schools are small, the staff is friendly, and the workweek is only four days; then our Joint School District 171 community in Idaho is what you are looking for.
The schools in our district are small and range in size from one-room school houses with approximately 20 students, to an elementary school with around 400 (grades K-6), a high school of 300 (grades 7-12), and other schools in between. Many of the persistent problems in larger schools are not so prevalent in our district.
Although some might believe the one-room school house died with the old west, we have two of these special places and they provide an excellent teacher to student ratio. The multi-grade environment inherent in this situation is very similar to home schooling. And just like some home schooled children, the students in our special schools conquer academic challenges in ways that large schools cannot.
A little larger than the one-room school house, we also have school a campus that houses grades Kindergarten through twelfth. At this school the secondary students assist the elementary children in academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities. The secondary students mentor the younger ones as well.
Athletic offerings in our larger schools are similar to those in other towns and cities (football, basketball, soccer, etc.). The Orofino High School football team goes to State almost every year. Yet, in our small schools, everyone on the team gets to play the game.
The four-day week affects students and staff differently. Students attend school only four days each week. Classified staff only work four days. Teachers and administrators have work days and in-services occasionally on Fridays. Still – and especially during hunting season – many weeks provide a day off on Friday.
Outside of school the Clearwater County community retains the safety and innocence of times past. The people look out for each other and their children. If a child gets into mischief out and about, news of the deed has a good probability of arriving home first. If someone accidentally leaves a valued item behind someplace, it is patiently waiting when the owner returns. Drivers stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (marked and unmarked) – yes, it is the law in Idaho, but few drivers actually obey that law in other places. People passing in cars will offer friendly gestures and greetings to pedestrians – even strangers! Business staff helps the elderly to their cars and even nearby residences. Simply stated, the people in this community are friendly, helpful and watchful.
Our area has much to offer people of all ages in all seasons. Tree blossoms and mountain flowers provide shutterbugs many opportunities during spring. In the summertime, people enjoy t-ball, Babe Ruth league baseball, fishing, swimming and floating down the Clearwater River (that runs through town), mountain biking on logging roads in the forests, motorcycling, riding ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles), historical celebrations (1860 Days at Pierce), and picnics in the park. Fall brings the Clearwater County Fair (with Logging Days); incredible colors in the landscape; and hunting expeditions for deer, elk, moose and other game to the outdoorsmen. During winter, adventurers can go downhill and cross country snow skiing, riding ATVs, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
For year round activities, several activities are available. These activities include judo, dance, cheerleading (with dance and gymnastics) for first through eighth graders, community choir, and a movie theater. For avid anglers, the Clearwater River also provides opportunities for fishing and boating, which many adventurers enjoy. From March through October, golfers may use two nearby nine-hole courses.
For skiers, the surrounding area offers the following resorts, at the given distances (driving time), and approximate prices.
3 ½ hours away: Brundage Ski Resort (McCall), with cross country ski courses nearby, $54/day, http://www.brundage.com
For potential small and medium sized business owners and operators, the Clearwater County area has a high demand for commercial trades. Plumbing, electric, automotive, welding, construction and handyman businesses are often over-booked. In order to accomplish necessary maintenance and repairs, community members must often contact vendors outside the local area. Whenever possible, we prefer to keep our money local.
For good mountain living, breathtaking views, and nice friendly people, few locations compare to the Clearwater County area. City action lures people away, but our country calm brings them back.