Question: "You went to a one-room school?"
Kelly Holthus: "Right... We were just a mile from town and our school at the end of my seventh grade I went in to Bertrand, the community, as an eighth grader and, of course, went through high school then. Then in about 1955, somewhere in that era, they consolidated 20-some of these small rural schools into the town school. And that was voluntary consolidation. And it was way ahead of its time...
"One wealthy farmer made the difference. He got up at a meeting. And, I can't remember exactly how he said it, but 'I want to pay taxes on my land. This is our future.' And the people really bought into it. And I always admired him for that...
"The one-room school couldn't attract teachers. They just couldn't operate. And, it was better for everybody, I think, to get them all Still it's a small school. It wasn't that it got to be a huge school. So I think it was better for everybody concerned. And there was never any dissent. I never heard anybody complain about it."
Question: "That's very unusual."
Holthus: "Very unusual."
Question: "Have you been in fights in the other communities that you've lived in your life? Have you ever been in any consolidation fights?"
Holthus: "There have been. And, you know, we're [the bank] in a lot of towns around York here, and I never talk about school consolidation because it's an emotional thing. And people have their reasons, and I can understand both sides. And I'm just not going to get into that...
"I think a lot of it has to do with high school athletics and activities. You know 'My son's on the football team. If we consolidate to a larger school, he may not get to play. And I like going to see him play football or play basketball.' And the same way in the class plays, or the band, or what it is. I think a lot of it has to do with the outside activities more than the curriculum."
Question: "And I think it also is a sense of identity for those small communities."
Holthus: "Absolutely. Yeah. You lose your school, you lose your identity."