The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

A ground breaking resurrection

Digital rendition of entrance with new gate, interpretive structures, and fence
A resurrection is breaking ground, with students and community members working to restore the cemetery on campus.

The Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery, located adjacent to the Marshfield campus since 1888, stands as a unique Coos Bay heirloom in need of a facelift. Cricket Soules, an active community member, is spearheading the restoration of the cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to taking on this task to help the community, Soules became involved because of her daughter.

“My daughter had been involved in it as a freshman, and other students had been working on it since 2005,” Soules said.

When the students first started working on the restoration, the cemetery was in disrepair and needed serious attention.

“Before the students started working on it, you couldn’t walk down the hill because the berry bushes were chest high,” Soules said. “So, it’s [student involvement] made a big difference.”

Students also took part in writing down transcriptions of the graves and researching the deceased. They cleared out the brush inside the cemetery and won a national award for their volunteer work. This year, the emphasis has been directed on replacing the west side of the cemetery fence.

Along with the volunteers and students, the city of Coos Bay has incorporated the cemetery in their master parks plan. According to Randy Dickson, Operations Administrator of Coos Bay, the city works on maintaining 194 acres of parks with a budget of $438,000 per year. The budget is used for salaries of workers and maintenance of all the city parks. However, Dickson said the budget is still too low, due to three budget reductions since the 1990s, severely limiting the amount allocated to the cemetery.

“The funds for general ground maintenance are very limited,” Dickson said.

Students are stepping up to help raise necessary funds to replace the fencing. The fence in place is chain linked and has barb wire due to previous vandalism. The new fence will be industrial grade from Pacific Fence and Wire in Portland and will feature a sign about the history of the cemetery. The complete price of the cemetery restoration, including the structure, gate, rock wall, sign and fence, will cost $12,000 and the students involved are busy raising money.

“Key Club is kicking off awareness by selling suckers for a dollar,” Soules said.

The cost to replace the fence alone, which is 4,128 inches, is roughly $4,000. The slogan being used for this stage in fundraising is “One Dollar for One Inch,” and students are encouraged to contribute. So far students have raised roughly $1,000 for the restoration. A $4,000 grant from Oregon Historic Cemeteries has been awarded for the new fence, as well as a $1,200 grant submitted to the Coos Cultural
Coalition will go toward the structure of the cemetery. In addition, a challenge grant that will match the amount raised up to $500 has been bestowed upon the cause. Soules said even a small donation from each student could make a difference.

“If every student gave us 50 cents we would meet our challenge grant,” Soules said.

Soules said helping install the new fence will provide students with valuable life skills.

“It never hurts to learn how to plumb a fence,” Soules said.

The students working to lead the restoration include seniors Michael Coburn, Larissa Norton and Nichole Norton and freshman Janet Favalora. The carpentry and manufacturing classes will also be involved. The carpentry class will put in the fence posts and the manufacturing class will assemble the sign on the fence. For Favalora, her interest in the project began in eighth grade when she took an elective class instructed by Bruce Bryant called “Digging Up the Past,” which centered around the history of the cemetery. Soules took note of Favalora’s enthusiasm and recruited her to help further.

“She [Soules] wanted me to continue on,” Favalora said. ”I went during lunch to help.”

Many more students are needed in order to assure the cemetery restoration will become a reality. Favalora said with more people involved, more things will be accomplished. Soules challenges more students to get involved in any way they can.

“There are many ways for students to get involved, whether it’s writing or running a Facebook page,” Soules said.

Favalora also urges the student body to get involved and take pride in their school.

“It’s part of our school,” Favalora said. “We don’t want it to look like trash.”

Soules encourages students to value the history of the community and the Coos Bay citizens there. She said a positive cycle will ensue when hard work is put into the cemetery. Soules said feeling a sense of pride for the school and cemetery will help boost more to contribute to the project.

“When things look good, people tend to take better care of it,” Soules said. “When they take pride in their work, it makes a difference.”

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The Student News Site of Marshfield High School
A ground breaking resurrection