It’s a common refrain in rural Harney County: “kids grow up quickly here.” At 14, they start high school at Crane Union High School — one of the only public boarding schools in the country. About half of the students at the high school come from places like Frenchglen, Juntura, Drewsey, Diamond, and Fields — places where the drive to school can take more than two hours — so they stay at a dorm on campus during the week. When they go home on the weekends, they are often put to work building fences and roping cattle on their parents’ ranches.
The district Crane Union High draws from is 50 times larger than Portland Public Schools, but the entire school population — 62 students — would basically fit into two classes in a single Portland high school. That makes it hard for kids to slip through the cracks, which has its ups and downs. “Teachers have our parents on speed dial,” sighs Clay Duckworth, a senior at the school. “It sucks.”
On the other hand, it helps the students have a plan once they leave Crane. Most students here are planning to go to college — some to four-year institutions, and others to two-year technical schools to become welders, linemen, or farriers — experts in horseshoeing.
We spoke with some of Crane’s students in the Crane Union High School library about their lives at school, in the dorm, and at home. The show was recorded November 21, 2013 at 2:00pm.