School is in session

His granddaughter Brooke Van Grinsven’s first day of school at Jim Hill Middle School Wednesday brought back a lot of memories for her grandfather.

Brooke, a sixth-grader, embarked on her middle school adventure 50 years after her grandfather, John Van Grinsven, was among the first students to attend the school.

The school was occupied during the 1963-64 school year and, at the time, housed grades 7-9. John Van Grinsven attended seventh and eighth grade at Minot High School-Central Campus, which in the early 1960s had grades 7-12. The new Jim Hill was completed in time for him to attend classes there.

“It was a brand new school,” said Van Grinsven, who said students appreciated the novelty of going to the one level school after attending three-story Central Campus. Central also didn’t have a cafeteria, said Van Grinsven, so students who wanted to eat at the school had to bring sack lunches. Van Grinsven said the school administration also separated the boys and girls at lunch, so boys sat on one side and girls sat on the other. The new Jim Hill had a cafeteria and that school’s administration didn’t segregate the sexes over the noon hour.

Van Grinsven said he will also always remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which also took place when he was in the ninth grade. Students heard the news over the intercom at the school. Everyone of his generation remembers exactly where they were when they heard the news, said Van Grinsven.

Granddaughter Brooke, whose dad Bryan Van Grinsven attended school elsewhere, said she was excited to start school, though also a bit sad that summer was over.

Jim Hill Middle School will hold a celebration of its 50th birthday sometime in February, said principal Cindy Mau. The date will coincide with Jim Hill’s official dedication on Feb. 9, 1964. Mau said a committee of teachers will be planning the celebration. The organizers will be interested in seeing old photos and hearing stories from people who have taught at or attended Jim Hill over the years, said Mau.