PO Box 69
  Seneca, OR




Seneca School



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Seneca School, which is nestled in the southeastern corner of Bear Valley, currently serves grades kindergarten through six. These students are from the surrounding areas of Bear Valley, Silvies Valley, and Izee, as well as students from Canyon Creek and the John Day/Mount Vernon area.

Students in grades kindergarten through six work and learn in self-contained classrooms in blended grades of K-3rd and 4th- 6th, and. The students and staff are like a family, with teacher-student interaction between grades and classrooms.

Many opportunities arise throughout the year for whole school projects such as our Hundredth Day Celebration, Read Across America Day, and our Artist in Residence Program. Our largest ongoing whole school activity is the Seneca School History Project. This project, which is a study of the history of Bear Valley and the town of Seneca, integrates the subject areas of writing, social studies, reading, math, music, art, and technology. In the process, our students develop into avid history buffs in general.

As a school, we place a strong emphasis on community interaction and service, as well as application of learning to real-life situations.

Seneca School serves a sparsely-populated area of approximately 1,000 square miles, much of which is federally-owned land on the Malheur National Forest with the private land mainly devoted to cattle ranching.

The school was built in Seneca in the early 1930s to serve the children of employees of the Edward Hines Lumber Company. Prior to that time, ranch children in the area were served by one-room schools located in Izee, the Silvies Valley, and in Bear Valley.

The school is the most prominent building in town and is a center for community activities as well as educating students in Kindergarten through the sixth grade. Community plays, meetings, volleyball, basketball, exercise classes, and PTA fund-raisers all take place at the school. A long-standing tradition of Seneca School is its community orientation that encourages participation of parents and community members in the educational process. Seneca School is a school with a heart and a soul. Just like the surrounding forests need young trees to replace the old, Seneca School is educating young people to better manage our existing resources while developing new ones for the future.

The town of Seneca has always been a logging town; for much of its history it was a company town of the Hines Lumber Company. In fact, until the early 1970s, Seneca even had its own currency. Loggers could make draws on their upcoming paychecks in Seneca money and use it to buy food and supplies at the store. The population of Seneca is approximately 180 people. Counting the ranching families whose children also attend the school, the total population is closer to 250 people. Seneca is located in Bear Valley at an elevation of 4,500 feet. It holds the record for the coldest temperature in Oregon at 54 degrees below zero. Bear Valley is usually snow-covered from the first of December until early March. Surrounding the ranching area of Bear Valley are the Ponderosa pine forests of the Malheur National Forest. It was these forests that attracted the Hines Lumber Co. and caused the city of Seneca to be built.

Vision Statement for Seneca School...

We are a community school committed to lifelong learning that enables our children to confidently reach their goals.

Goals for Seneca School...

  • Utilize community volunteers in a variety of ways to engage our students and realize our vision of a community school.
  • Increase student access to the outside community and increase access of the outside community to the school in order to encourage the vision of lifelong learning.

Andrea Combs, Head Teacher

General Information: combsa@grantesd.k12.or.us