It’s second period, Mr. Galvin’s science class. The walls are lined with antlers, ducks, plants, coral, skulls, and some twisted, mummified rodent.
“Measure your seed pods,” Mike Galvin tells the class, “Their life cycle has totally speeded up.”
“Our plant’s life cycle already got cut short by a certain someone,” a front row student says with a dirty look at the offending party.
These are the last days of school for Linderman’s graduates of the class of 2007. But it’s also the last time the school will house only seventh graders. Next year it will be home to the district’s alternative high school programs, as well as a curriculum coordinator and Flathead’s drug-use prevention organization.
Galvin is teaching the children, nephews and nieces of former students and it’s no wonder. He’s taught in School District 5 for 33 years, 26 of them at Linderman.
“Mr. Galvin, can we eat them?” another student pipes up.
When Lloyd Barrie went to Linderman, it was all eighth-graders, with the seventh grade over at Central School. He was there for the 1965-1966 school year. Barrie remembers reading the “Cheaper by the Dozen” series, and spending afternoons watching Jeopardy in Jerry Chase’s class.
“I remember my science teacher, Joe Super, from Power,” Barrie recalls. “He’d always come into our class, it was almost like a sitcom: He’d teach his class, get them going on something, then he’d come over to our class, and just sit there and talk with Mr. Chase, it was like he was hanging out.”
Linderman was built in 1938 by Fred Gyrion and designed by Kalispell architect Fred Brinkman. The construction was a Public Works Administration project costing $93,000. The columned building on the south end of the school used to be The First Church of Christ Scientist. In 1955 the school bought it and the two connected three years later.
A population boom in the Flathead in the 1930s necessitated the new school. The Montana Historical Society’s Architectural Inventory says people were moving in from the Midwest to escape the drought.
Barrie remembers a school legend about a tunnel connecting Central School and Linderman: “There’s spies running back and forth … who knows what the principal’s got down there.”
It’s likely the tunnel of legend was the old heat system, which the Architectural Inventory describes as a steam tunnel running from Linderman to Central School.
An eighth grade versus the faculty basketball game was highly anticipated by Barrie and his classmates. Their not-so-secret weapon: a 6-foot-7-inch eighth-grader named Brent Wilson, who later led Kalispell to the state championship as a 6-foot-11-inch senior, scoring a record 51 points.
“We thought ‘this game is ours.’ Well, unbeknownst to us, one of our teachers, Mr. Barker, used to play for the Boston Celtics,” Barrie says. “So he let the game get close, then he came down in the middle of the game, and did a shot up behind his back. So, we were schooled.”
The gym impressed Barrie when he first moved up from elementary school. “Russell School’s gym has the out-of-bounds line, and literally, there’s two feet and walls all around it,” Barrie says, remembering his awe at the new school’s facilities. “So I got to Linderman — with the balcony, and seats.”
In 1958, when the school connected to the old church, a second floor and a stage were added to the west end of the gym. The gym, along with eight classrooms and a manual training shop was all part of Brinkman’s original footprint. Offices were added in 1964.
“I remember dances,” Barrie says, “The Beach Boys were really big. So everybody had ‘beach boy shirts’ with really big stripes. The guys would all go stand up against the wall on one side, and the girls on the other side.”
In Galvin’s second period science class, it’s still divided: girls sharing desks on one side, and boys on the other. He walks around with the watering can, helping adjust tools and find measurements. The end of Linderman’s run as an all seventh grade school coincides with the end of Galvin’s tenure. He will retire with the last day of school.
On the bottom right corner of the board, a handwritten square counts down to summer.
“You have two more minutes to get this done,” Galvin says. Papers shuffle and calculations are jotted down and the class continues learning as best it can; summer is just days away.
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