Progress

Long-Ago Find at Oakdale Evoked History

Every old school building has its history, some more poignant than the rest.
A trio of Westside staff members unearthed one such bit of history in the attic of the oldest part of Oakdale Elementary roughly a decade ago. In the end, their find helped bring a bit of comfort to a family who’d lost a young soldier in World War II.
Marla Fries, Oakdale’s principal from 2004 to 2010, wanted to check the attic for artifacts. Greg Losh, a District carpenter, got a ladder and helped her navigate the attic floor.
“We were hoping to find all kinds of things, and we found one box,” Fries said.
The box contained old essays, written in cursive, that Losh dated to the 1930s.
Only one had a full name, first and last. Mick Lustgraaf, retired assistant director of buildlings and grounds, said he felt a need to search for the boy’s family.
He found some still living in the District and returned the report. Only then did he learn that the boy had been killed during the war.
“It was like receiving something from the past for them,” he said, noting that they were thrilled to get it.
Lustgraaf said he was impressed after reading some of the essays with the young authors’ patriotism. “They were excited about America and proud of America,” he said.