The Learning Track

A Tiny School Does “Something Crazy”

By Mike Turnlund

Photos courtesy of Clark Fork Junior-Senior High School

Bonner County in northern Idaho still has not fully recovered from the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, and in the small town of Clark Fork, the school was hit hard.

Clark Fork Junior-Senior High School (CFHS), which combines grades seven through twelve, had 140 students in 2005 but just eighty-four students ten years later, a level not seen since the 1950s. Last year, the school might have mustered 110 students if all of them showed up on picture day, but typically for rural Idaho schools, a significant minority of the student population is transient. CFHS’s population waxes and wanes, generally because of the same social factor that plagues much of non-urban Idaho: joblessness.

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