In the late '40's and early '50's, Mary Evans Stanley began the second generation attending Beekman school, following in the footsteps of her mother, Louise Brown Evans. Stanley can still recall her time at Beekman and the friendships and memories she made.
"I remember Mrs. Farrar teaching me in a class on crocheting - that was the actual class," Stanley said. "We didn't have a cafeteria until right before I left the school, and we would bring sack lunches every day."
Stanley also recalled that her brother earned the nickname "Hooky" while attending the school due to his fondness for skipping class.
Her daughter, Lisa Stanley Chain also attended Beekman, which is where she meet her husband-to-be, Kevin Chain. The couple did not date until years later, and never even talked to each other until Lisa went out on a date with his brother. They do, however, both remember when the school caught on fire in January 1977 and can recall vividly exactly where they were.
"I was in Coach Charlie Peterson's class and Mrs. Viva Murry came in, and she was just as calm as could be. She said 'Coach, the gym is on fire,'" Lisa said. "We all looked and smoke was pouring out of the gym, which we walked through to leave the school!'
I remember thinking later, 'looks like we could have put that fire out,' but instead, the whole entire school burned down," Kevin added. "My main concern was we weren't going to get to have our basketball tournament, because the new gym wasn't finished.Thankfully, they got it done and we were able to play and win the first tournament in there."
Lisa remembers the times when the whole community would gather at the school for Halloween carnivals and other events.
"The ninth grade always had the Spook House, and they would try to scare everyone else," she recalled.
Kevin, who graduated Bastrop High School in 1980, caught Lisa's eye with his car.
"He had a brand new Mustang and I wanted to ride in it!" Lisa, a 1981 BHS graduate exclaimed.
And the rest, they say, is history. The couple began dating, married and had a daughter, Jennifer, who continued the family tradition of attending Beekman School.
Jennifer spent her entire elementary years at Beekman as well as her seventh and eighth grade years in the school's junior high, where she played basketball and was the Homecoming Queen. She, too, remembers her years at Beekman fondly, especially her Algebra I Honors class which she took for two hours three days a week.
"Those of us in that class had free time on Mondays and Fridays and one thing that stands out in my mind is the time the stove caught on fire in the home ec. room...we still stand by our story that we don't know how that happened," Jennifer said while laughing. "We would have donkey basketball games and it was so much fun. The whole community has always gathered at school events."
But, Jennifer did not end the legacy when her time at Beekman was through. She returned as a teacher and is preparing another generation of students for their future. She also has a daughter, Emmalyn, with husband Jim Ellingburg, and she plans for her to attend the school as well, proving that Beekman School is more than just a school. It is a community that has banded together for 100 years and continues to thrive and grow.
Beekman School's History
Near the beginning of the twentieth century, the owner of several large tracts of timber land in northwestern Morehouse Parish, G. H. Beekman, opened a sawmill at a location about halfway between Bastrop and Crossett, Ark. The village of Beekman developed in the area, centering itself around the railroad depot. A school, called Humphrey’s Chapel, was built nearby.
In 1914, the Beekman School District was formed, which combined other rural schools in Ward Two -- the Hughes Chapel and the Compromise schools -- with Humphrey’s Chapel School. A wood-frame school building was constructed at the present site of Beekman Charter School, housing grades first through eighth.
The first principal and teacher at the newly-formed Beekman School was W. C. Honeycutt, who was followed by W. H. Readheimer, Henry Jordan, J. C. Campbell and P. C. Faulk.
P. P. Ferguson served as principal and teacher at Beekman School from 1928 to 1946 and in 1941, a new brick building was constructed to replace the older wooden structure. W. H. Hinkie succeeded Ferguson, serving from 1946 through 1959. During Hinkie’s tenure, a cafeteria was added to the building in 1949, and a gymnasium was added in 1953.
In the fall of 1959, R. E. Tarver began a 21-year term as principal. In 1970, three new classrooms were built on the east side of the cafeteria to provide for the expanding student population. In 1976, construction began on a larger gymnasium which was situated across A.M. Baker Road from the main building. The new gym was almost complete when an event occurred that would be engraved on the memory of every student, parent and staff member.
On January 20, 1977, the main building and attached auditorium/gymnasium burned. School was in session that day, but all students and personnel were safely evacuated. The cafeteria and the three classrooms that had been added in 1970 were saved. With spirits undaunted by the loss, the Beekman basketball teams hosted the first tournament to be held in the newly-completed gym on February 22, 1977.
Shortly thereafter, the citizens of Ward Two voted in a property tax to pay for the construction of a new building. In March 1979, the new building was complete, and in the fall of that same year, two new classrooms were added on the northwest side of the cafeteria, housing kindergarten and first grade. Since that time, the voters of District 12 have helped to maintain these facilities by approving new property taxes to provide for the continuing needs of students and faculty.
Phillip Brunson followed Mr. Tarver as principal in 1980 and served until 1988. Charles Peterson followed with a tenure of 11 years, remaining as principal through the spring semester of 1999.
Roy McCoy became principal of Beekman Jr. High in the fall of 1999 and continues in this position as the school transitions to charter school status. In 2003, the cafeteria was expanded to provide for the ever-increasing enrollment. In 2005, two additional classrooms were added between the existing two sets of classrooms on the west side of the cafeteria. The need for more classroom space continued to be felt, so in the summer of 2010, five new classrooms and two restrooms were built atop the tennis court in front of the cafeteria.