Bear Creek Elementary Celebrates Milestone


The headline in The Bulletin on Monday, September 9, 1963, read “Bear Creek open, but has too many kids.” Despite the crowded start 60 years ago, Bear Creek Elementary School has served families in Bend’s southeast neighborhood for generations.

School staff and administrators are taking the opportunity to look back at six decades of history with a community celebration on Friday, September 22. Bend-La Pine Schools also looks forward to future years connecting to families and students through innovative programming such as hosting a strand of the district’s dual language immersion program and continuing to serve the diverse neighborhood that makes up Bear Creek’s community.

“It’s an honor to celebrate this school’s storied history,” Bear Creek Interim Principal Marc Zollinger said. “So many alumni still live in Central Oregon and are returning to mark this huge milestone with us on September 22.”

The Bear Creek community is celebrating with a Fun Run on Friday, September 22. Participants are invited to meet in the schoolyard at 5:30 pm with their families for a one-mile walk/run. The event is organized by the Bear Creek Bears Parent Teacher Organization. Alumni are welcome to tour the school and explore the hallways and history.

“Looking back at Bear Creek’s history is a wonderful reflection of our community’s story,” Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Steven Cook said. “At the time it opened, The Bulletin described the school as being on the outskirts of Bend’s southeast side. Through all the growth, this little elementary school has served generations of Bendites at the highest level.”

In 1963, the school was overcrowded in the first week by 35 students. The school was originally built for a maximum of 240. Superintendent R.E. Jewell was hopeful that transfers could be done and by week’s end, Bear Creek was running smoothly. Its smooth sailing continues to this day with 505 students enrolled this school year.

For additional information about the event, go to


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