Schools are the foundation of every town, and Meeker has had numerous schools since even before the founding of the town. Meeker has had so many schools that it's hard to name and show them all. Below you will see some of the oldest and most iconic schools that Meeker has ever had, some being up river or more towards Rangley. We will also show what the schools look like today and how the schools of Meeker have changed alongside the town.
Basic history/facts about the schools:
When Meeker was just starting to be founded, and Nathan Meeker moved here we had some businesses. Most of these were to help the soldiers that were here and to help it become a town. After all the soldiers left in 1883, these buildings were turned into local businesses and community centers. As you can see through this website, most businesses started off in barracks and eventually built their own store. The picture to the side was the military hospital, and after the soldiers left was turned into the first school in Meeker. Because of the lack of buildings, this building was also used for the church, city hall, public gatherings, and where all the plans for Meeker to become a town were held.
The next known school for Meeker was the Coal Creek schoolhouse. This building is about 12 miles out of town, and served as a school for kids up river. Unlike today, everyone road horses and there was no school bus, so if you didn't live close enough to a school to ride your horse, you most likely didn't go to school or were home schooled. This is why Meeker had many schools for being such a small town. Coal Creek was a one room schoolhouse that had an average of 10-20 kids every school year. You can take a tour of this school now and see what it was like to go to school here during the 1890's! See pictures of the Coal Creek school students here!
The Powell Park Schoolhouse was founded around the years of 1881-1883. The people living in or near Powell park took great pride in the school and how they were able to transform it into a great community space and school. The Herald Times published this statement in 1883 about the school house. "The residents of Powell Park district feel a great over a large American flag and the beautifying of their school premises. Two years ago the plot of ground was barren waste, sage brush six to eight feet high growing to the very doors of the school house. Since that time the yard has been cleared, the building repaired, the grounds seeded, and forty- four trees set out." As you can see this was a great accomplishment for the community.
The Rio Blanco County High School was in operation from around the year of 1930-40 until 1955 when the new high school was built. The classes of this school were very small, as the population of Meeker was just barley over 1000 at the time. This high school was used until 2019 when it was rebuilt and redone to the school it is now. The building currently serves many purposes and is used for many events in the community. It is the School Districts Admin building where many school employees work. It also is used for some of the rec districts classes in one of the old classrooms. The gym is used by the community for many things like dance glass, occasionally school dances, and many things like that. The building was also used as the pre-k school on the bottom floor for many years before the new elementary was built. As you can see this building is very useful and holds many memories for the town.
The Angora School was a school for the small town of Angora between Meeker and Rangley. This is no longer a town but rather a populated place in Rio Blanco County. It holds some ranches and farms. When the town was first founded and populated there wasn't school buses or anything like that so kids could only travel so far for school. This meant that the area had to have some type of school for the kids. If there was any kids living there today they would travel to one of Meeker or Rangley's school as those are both relatively close and the school building no longer exists. The area is closer to Rangley, so most people in the area would travel to Rangley for their needs and education.
The Mesa School was founded roughly around the spring of 1891. The Mesa School house was known for having the best teachers around and the best education that could be gotten here. In June 14, 1890, the Rio Blanco Herald Times stated "Nellie Peslee is in charge of the new school on the Mesa and is ranked among the best of teachers in Rio Blanco affording good instructions to the children and giving the best of satisfaction to their parents. All school directors and others interested in education should endeavor to attend a convention which meets at the co office, on the 21st, to consider means of improving the schools of the county." Here you can also see how the county cared for the education of it's students and was constantly trying to improve it.
The Buford School was built in 1902, and served local students for 50 years after that. Though it's not used as a school anymore, the building still serves the community to this day. The building was stopped being used as a school in 1953. Since then it has been used for dances, events, social gatherings, many community get together, and the annual fish fry fundraiser. The current building was built after the first Buford Schoolhouse suffered a major flood and a new building had to be rebuilt. The Buford School had thirty-one students in 1917, a fairly large group of kids for the time period. Interestingly, the building functioned not only as the school but also had quarters for the school teacher to live in. The School stopped being used in 1953 because their student size was less than 10, because students were being bused into Meeker to attend school. Though this building is no longer a school, it still has sentimental value and is greatly appreciated and used by the community today.
The last school that was in operation before the schools we have now was the Meeker Elementary Building in the middle of town. This building was built in the 1940's and was used until 2010. The town decided to build a new elementary school for many reasons. The main reason being that they had far outgrown the building. For the last two years of the buildings usage trailers had to be set up on the lawn to accommodate all the students the elementary had. The basement of the building also flooded frequently rendering all the classrooms down there useless. A new elementary was built farther out of town, closer to the Meeker High School and Barone Middle School. Below you can see a picture of the new Meeker Elementary School!
Since the building was no longer being used it was given to the town. Across the street was the Justice Center/ Sheriff's Office and they desperately needed a new one. After many town votes and appeals, the building was renovated with add-ons and is now the Meeker Sheriff's Office and jail. You can see more about the Sheriff's Office here, or take a tour of what the building is like on the inside here!
From 1955-2020 the Meeker High School Building stood at the top of Garfield and School St and was a brick building with separate flights for the classes. The school continues to stand there though a new building was constructed in 2019-2020. During the 65 years that the building did stand it underwent many renovations. The building was constructed to take the place as Rio Blanco County High School as the building on Garfield and 6th was no longer sufficient. Some parts of this buildings were kept in the 2020 building redo such as the auditorium.
Meeker Schools Now:
Facts and History on current schools:
In 2010, the Meeker Elementary School moved buildings. This building was built just for the Elementary school as they had far outgrown the building in the middle of town. This building is much farther from downtown, but a lot closer to Barone Middle School and Meeker High School. The building houses grades Pre-K to 5th grade. After only a year of the school being used, the foundation was damaged and everyone had to be relocated for the school year so repairs could be made. Preschool through 1st grade moved into the admin building, talked about already on this page. Second through forth grade took over the "freshman" wing of the high school. Fifth grade moved to the middle school. After a year like this, everything went back to normal and has been ever since. Above you can see a picture of the old Meeker Elementary School!
The Barone Middle School currently holds Meeker's 6th through 8th grade. The building was built in the 1980's and is still holding all of the Meeker Middle Schoolers. There is no pictures or documents to suggest any middle schools before Barone, so it's likely this was the first one in Meeker. It was originally built in the 1980's and underwent some renovation in around 2014 when classrooms were switched and the secretaries office was out to the front of the school. Barone Middle School takes it's name from a former teacher, Mr. Barone who taught at the Jr. High. The school has around 150-200 students per year and takes pride in having kids who test above the state level every year as well as student athletes that win many titles!
The new Meeker High School was finished in the spring of 2021. The school started renovation in the spring of 2019 when the bottom floor was ripped down and the senior flight was overtaken. The construction continued on through the summer and 2020 school year while students occupied the top half of the school. During the summer of 2020 the rest of the school was town down and was replaced by the new building. The school district was given more than $8 million in grant funds, so the new high school is a hugs improvement. It now includes a new gym with an indoor track, a stem lab, breakout alcoves for the students and much more. The new school seems to be thoroughly enjoyed by the whole community weather it be during sporting events, art shows, or musicals.
As you can see schools are a very vital part of Meeker and have existed in Meeker since before the founding. Schools have allowed the kids of Meeker to grow up and continue to help build and make Meeker an even better place. Meeker has had many schools because the residence of the town were spread out over so many miles and could only travel as far as their horse could go. Despite this the kids of Meeker were able to get a great education and were eventually able to all move to three school buildings. Learn more about some basic history of the schools of Meeker and see what the school size was like here and see how some of the school have changed and become modern day businesses here!