|Seneca School, which is nestled in the southeastern corner of Bear Valley, currently serves
grades kindergarten through eight. 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 eight work and learn in self-contained classrooms in blended grades of K-3rd,
4th- 6th, and 7th & 8th. 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, oral history, 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
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
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
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 eighth 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 as classroom aides, guest speakers, and activity leaders in
order to 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.
Adele Cerny, Head Teacher