Friday, December 8, 2017

Crowds pack OSA to hear Parry

Read about Shoshone chairman Darren Parry's visit to the Oneida Stake Academy on Heritage Day 2017.

“Of all the times I’ve told this story,” said Darren, “I’ve always wanted to tell it from here, in the community it took place. This has been very special for me.” - Darren Parry

Full text of Parry's speech

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Zion's Bank Community Magazine

See what Zion's Bank Magazine wrote about the OSA

Our efforts and progress on the Oneida Stake Academy building's restoration caught the attention of Zion's Bank Community magazine. Already, it has generated donations from people who have read the article. To donate what you can, go to

Miracle of a Legacy

Learn more about the history and future plans for the restoration. Feel inspired? 
You can donate online 👉
Thank you to our sponsors Lewiston State Bank Great American RealtyPreston Drug & Monsanto Company
Miracle of a Legacy

Friday, June 23, 2017

OSA musical set for July 13, 14, & 15

You won't want to miss this colorful telling of the people who built, attended and taught at the Oneida Stake Academy.
With original music by Tyler Castleton, talented actors and dancers and an amazing backdrop (the OSA building itself!), this outdoor musical is a must see this summer!
 July 13, 14, & 15 at 8:45 p.m., 90 E. Oneida, Preston, Idaho

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"If These Walls Could Talk"

Coming next month, "If These Walls Could Talk" - an original musical of the story of the Oneida Stake Academy and the people who sacrificed to built it will be presented. The outdoor production features original music from award winning composer, and Preston native, Tyler Castleton.
Written by Cecelie Costley and directed by Danielle Dunn, this magical journey through Preston's past features local singers, dancers, classic cars and live horses.
Mark your calendars now for July 13, 14 and 15!
90 E. Oneida, Preston, Idaho

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Early days of OSA from journal of James. B. McQueen

         "The first school I can recall was the one room frame building on the George Chapman farm about two miles north of Preston. It was called the "Yellow Jacket," as it had rustic outside and was painted a bright yellow. I attended school for four seasons. For my fish year, my father asked that I be admitted to the Oneida Academy.
         “...classes had been held in the basement rooms for four seasons while construction went on above them.  The building was finished in 1894.
         “I entered the academy in 1901 on probation. This school was intended to become a Normal School to train teachers for the elementary schools. District schools were being set up in the area and subjects were being set up on a schedule of graders, but qualified teachers were not found in adequate numbers. The one-teacher grade schools were not filling the need of the community. 
         “At first, the academy included all the elementary grades from one to eight. As time went on the public schools improved and the Academy discontinued the lower grades and extended its curriculum to include the upper grades.
         “The year I entered the Academy from the Yellow Jacket the grades form one to five had been eliminated form the Academy and the 9th and 10th grades included. As I had had only four seasons in a one-room school they were reluctant to admit me to the sixth grade. I was finally admitted on probation. The next year the sixth grade was eliminated and the third year of high school was added. Some how I sneaked y the tests and returned for the balance of the school years, graduating at the head of my class in 1908.
         “For three years I was the smallest boy in the school and was nicknamed “The Runt.” When the academy set up a school band under the direction of Professor Henry Otte in the fall of 1908, I tried to get an alto horn as it was supposed to e he easiest instrument to learn. But Professor Otte was sure I was too small to handle a horn – so he gave me the Bass Drum.
         “My class finished the prescribed course of study for graduation from the Normal course in may 1908. This was the year of the big soak. There had been so much rainfall and freezing weather that no fieldwork had been done on any farms. Loose animals had been mired in the fields and even on the highways. My classmates told me that it was my privilege to meet the speaker for the graduation program at Dayton.
         “I put two plow horses on the little buggy that took father to and from his shop and took off for Dayton at sunrise. The surface of the ground was frozen hard enough that the wheels of the gig stayed on top, but the horses’ feet went through the ice to a depth of ten to 14 inches.
         “I reached Dayton depot about noon, unhitched the team and gave them a drink of water and feed of oats. I could see the smoke from the train several miles down the track, so I hitched up. And then it started to rain. The ice was all melted and the buggy axles dragged the mud most of the way back to Preston, where we arrived about six o-clock. I did not dare try to take the team out to the farm, but put them in a livery barn in town for the night.
         It was a trip I shall never forget, for I had spent five hours with David O. McKay, who later became President of the Church.

         I washed the mud off as best I could in the horse trough at the livery stable, telephoned the folks at home on the farm and asked them to bring y suit and clean shirt with them as they come to the graduation program. They came. We went to the program and I sat next to brother McKay on the stand, and I delivered the valedictory on the program with the future president of the Church.”

Friday, July 3, 2015

Coverage in Deseret News Online Edition

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pageant set for July 16, 17 & 18 this year!

Magnificent musical features original music by Tyler Castleton

            The anticipation to repeat the outstanding success enjoyed at the debut of “If These Walls Could Talk” last year has charged the musical’s directors for this year’s production on July 16, 17 & 18.  The original musical will be presented in front of the Oneida Stake Academy at 8:45 p.m.
            Written by Cecile Costley and directed by Danielle Dunn, the musical features local actors, dancers and vocalists playing both historical and fictitious people from Franklin County.  The storyline centers on a grandfather trying to connect to his digitally-distracted grandson, a father hoping to inspire his rambunctious young family and a young man in love eager to share a meaningful secret with his sweetheart, unexpectedly meet in the Oneida Stake Academy building, and discover that sometimes, walls can talk.
            From dancers to actors, to singers and organizers, participants in the pageant last year are thrilled to repeat the performance this year, say organizers.
            “My granddaughter “has” to be in the play again this year. She absolutely loved it last year” said Dunn.
            Local residents are also thrilled for a repeat production.
            “A lady I was talking to the other day was very excited because she said she missed the pageant last year,” said Pat Moses. She and Glenda Swainston are making and gathering costumes. Other people were so impressed from last year’s production that they want to return this year.
            “I had a couple from Weston tell me that the pageant touched their hearts and helped them to see what a great heritage the community has in that building,” said music director, Carla Gunderson.
Renowned composer, Tyler Castleton, wrote magnificent songs specifically for this musical.
            “The music Tyler Castleton wrote for it is fabulous. He really got the spirit of the academy. Everyone that sang the music felt it. I felt it. He brought the courage the pioneers had, the camaraderie they had, and the dreams they had, and brought them to life in the songs,” she continued.
            “How could he have known that every person that comes through those (academy) doors will know that those pioneers built that building to last forever?”
            Castleton has said that he wrote the music as a gift to his hometown.
“I knew it would be difficult with my schedule, but … I said I would wholeheartedly. Frankly, I wanted to make a contribution. I wanted to help tell the story of our heritage and our history and of all the wonderful and amazing people who came before us. I feel really privileged to … use (my talents) to help.”
At the time, Castleton was in the middle of producing a tour and debut of the boy band, Beyond 5, so his time was extraordinarily tight. He wrote the music, but in his heart, he knew it wasn’t right. So despite the hopes of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation Pageant Committee’s directors, he scrapped the songs. The pageant therefore, was not a part of Franklin County’s Centennial as it was originally intended.
Determined to find just the “right” message with his songs, Castleton rewrote them all, and when they finally came together, the music was worth the wait, said Peggy Christensen, co-chair of the OSAF Pageant Committee.
Castleton said he found inspiration in the characters and script Costley created, by imagining the mindset and heartfelt feelings of the characters.
            “I tried to put myself into the place of the townspeople so long ago when the prophet was encouraging them to make education a bigger part of their lives,” he said.
“The music conveys exactly the message and emotions we were hoping for,”  said Christensen. When the actors, dancers, light are added to the  music on the steps of the grand building itself, the effect is magical.
“We are thrilled with how the pageant has turned out, and we are pleased to sponsor such an uplifting event in celebration of our community’s heritage,” said OSAF chairman, Nathan Hale.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Preston carpenter decoding pioneer secrets to OSA's front door

Wes Dryden points to the different layers of finishes on the original door frame. It appears that the first finish was faux graining, commonly used by Mormon pioneers to make softwood structures appear to be hardwood. It then appears the door was painted a solid color, and re-grained with a new faux graining. This was done in the 80s under the direction of Newell Hart.
Preston carpenter decoding pioneer secrets to OSA's front door


            After painstaking deconstruction of the historic Oneida Stake Academy building’s front door, local carpentry artisan, Wes Dryden, has been able to determine a few of its secrets.
            Originally, he thought the door’s frame was made from long-length boards that were bent into shape. Not so. They were made from several smaller pieces of wood, cut to fit a curved opening left by stone masons as they constructed the front of the building.
            And, although power tools were not used at anytime during the original construction of the building, Dryden has uncovered clues that at least some of the interior woodwork was cut on a mechanized saw over a century ago.
            “See these indentations on the backs of the molding? That is how boards are moved along an assembly line,” he said. Research seems to indicate hat the closest mill would have been in Brigham City, so it is possible the molding was made there.
            According to the history of Brigham City, there was a planing mill and carpentry department of the Brigham City Mercantile and Manufacturing Association (Brigham City Co-op). This association was initially started in an effort to comply with the Territorial Incorporation Act of 1870. Almost every resident of the community was involved in some way.
            Dryden began working on the door last fall, after making an analysis of the door before bidding its restoration. Board members of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation had determined from old photographs, that the doors hanging on the building during the last several decades are not original. The small windows at their top were the clue, as they did not appear in the earliest photos of the building.
            Dryden said the wood used by the pioneers for the door he took down, was pine, painted to look like a hardwood – a practice known as graining, which was commonly applied by Mormon pioneers to enhance the beauty of the buildings they were constructing. Artists using feathers, cheesecloth, paintbrushes, paint and washes would reproduce the look of hardwoods, marble or leather on the soft pine that was prevalent in the local forests.
            Dryden is making the door to appear is the pioneers had hoped. He has duplicated the millwork on it, and expects to install the replicated door and door frame in May.

A view of the OSA's door in 1920.

The current view of the academy's doorway. The red door has been hanging in the doorway for many years. It will be replaced with a replica of the original door design.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New windows add sparkle to front of OSA

Cooks enjoy working on Benson alma mater

            Installing new windows, designed with modern materials to look as the building’s original windows, has been a significant experience for Ralph and Kimberly Cook, of Wallsburg, Utah.
            The couple has installed new windows in historic edifices for several years,  but said working on the Oneida Stake Academy has held special meaning for them because they are fans of Ezra Taft Benson, one of the schools more famous alumni.
            ”It’s been especially neat because Ezra Taft Benson is a patriot and we are studying him this year,” Kimberly said. Working on such an historic edifice has been gratifying, the couple said. “It’s probably the oldest building we’ve worked on,” said Ralph.
            “I took a couple of pictures and sent them to my father, and he said ‘Well, you make sure you do a really good job,” chuckled Kimberly.

            “We’re sure glad we were able to do this job,” she said.