The Intermountain Indian School held a reunion in March of this year and Hal Reeder, who taught at the former Brigham City school for 25 years, wanted to be there.
But, two days before the reunion, his wife died.
"I put it out of my mind," he said. "I wasn't going to go."
Sorting through his wife's papers, Reeder found a poem he'd written when the school closed in 1984, in which he expressed sadness there might not be any reunions. So he went.
Reeder was invited to share memories with the students. Onstage, he picked up a statue that usually sits on a mantle in his Brigham City home, and recalled the student who made it -- Lloyd Wyatt.
"He was a creative writing student of mine, and he was a Washoe Indian. His best friend was William Oscar Warlie," Reeder said.
Reeder told about watching the news one evening.
"On comes this 'Intermountain student shot and killed in Ogden,' and it was Oscar Warlie," said Reeder. "I thought, 'Where's Lloyd?' "
Wyatt returned to class a few weeks later.
"He just looked like he'd been through hell," Reeder said.
Wyatt and Warlie had gotten into trouble in Logan, and decided to forget their troubles with a weekend in Ogden. They approached a Hispanic man to ask for spare change, and were confronted by the man's son -- who had a gun. Warlie was shot in the chest. Wyatt took four bullets; one grazed his skull, but a belt and buckle given to him by his brother took the impact of the others. Warlie died in Wyatt's arms.
"He says, 'Mr. Reeder, they're going to expel me, but I can have a representative at the expulsion hearing. Would you come and represent me?' And I said, 'Yeah, if you'll promise me you'll go to school, you won't be tardy, you won't be involved in any fights.' He says, 'I'll do it.' "
Holding the statue, Reeder told the audience that Wyatt was true to his word.
Reeder's wish, he said, was to see Wyatt again someday.
"I stood up, and he just broke down in tears," said Wyatt. "It was a powerful moment."
Wyatt had been hoping to see Mr. Reeder, too.
"I looked up to him as a father figure -- at the time, I didn't have a father figure or male role model," said Wyatt. "He was a favorite teacher because of his humor, and his teaching impacted me for many years, even to this day."
Intermountain Indian School was started in 1950 for Navajo students and in the 1970s opened up to students from tribes across the country.
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs website, www.bia.gov, early board- ing schools were designed to assimilate Indian people by eradicating tribal cultures.
But Lora Tom, a member of the Paiute tribe who attended the Intermountain Indian School from 1979 to 1981, had a very different experience.
"It was a fun time for me. I enjoyed it," she said. "As far as the faculty, they were pretty awesome. They were very patient and worked with the students."
The teens were encouraged to share their culture, and the school held powwows.
Most teachers tried to understand their students.
"I did my master's thesis comparing white teachers' values with Navajo values, and it was quite revealing," said Reeder.
He learned to be careful about how he praised students.
"The Navajo culture believes that one should not place himself above others by virtue of his intelligence or money. They believe that harmony comes from people being more equal," Reed said. "My first lesson in that was if you do something good and paste it on the board, like we do in our schools, that causes the other kids to say, 'You think you're better than us,' and that's a negative thing, so they don't like to have undue attention brought to them about the pursuit of excellence."
Ellie Thompson of Ogden, another former teacher, remembers when a student was singled out by a community business to be given a special award. The boy skipped the ceremony.
Thompson coached sports, and always wanted to win. Her students had different ideas.
"They loved the sport for the sport -- for the team," she said. "If we won, we won, and if we didn't, it was fine with them. ... I realized they knew more than I did."
Life at the Intermountain Indian School wasn't perfect. As at any school, there were troublemakers and students with troubles. And there were some kids who just didn't want to be there.
"Some new students came, and they'd make it two or three months, and knew this wasn't for them. They would check out, and accommodations were made for their journey back home," said Tom.
One of the biggest challenges was homesickness.
"Anytime you're away from your parents ... when you're a teenager, especially the first time you're alone, you're going to experience being lonesome," said Tom.
To help ease the transition, the school hired staff from many tribes. Tom's mother served in the dorms, listening to students and offering support, as did Brigham City resident Carolina Lomaquahu.
"Some of our responsibilities were to try to make the dormitory as attractive as we can," said Lomaquahu, of the Hopi tribe. They also taught students housekeeping, and served as counselors.
"We were basically their mothers away from home," said Lomaquahu.
Tom says living in the dorms, after her parents left the school, was good for her.
"It gave me the opportunity to look at taking care of myself, doing laundry, making sure I listened and was following the rules in the dorms, and being responsible on my own," she said.
She participated in the school's vocational programs, taking nursing aide classes. Today, she lives in Cedar City and is the diabetes coordinator, and assistant clinic supervisor, for the Paiute Tribe.
The support of family, and the school staff, built her confidence, she said.
"Being able to speak, and do things for my family, my self, my community ... that's what drives me," said Tom, who is chairwoman of the Cedar Band of Paiutes.
One of Tom's favorite things about Intermountain Indian School was meeting people from tribes across the country.
"It's amazing how many friends you can make in one place," she said.
Reeder says he might have quit after his first year at Intermountain Indian School, but he was assigned to escort students home at the end of the year and experienced the poverty on the reservation.
"I saw where they came from -- they were doing darn good," he said.
He worked for Thiokol after the school closed.
"The best year I ever had at Thiokol wasn't as good as the worst year at the Intermountain Indian School," he said. "You felt you'd accomplished something worthwhile every day."
Wyatt's time at the school was more life-changing.
"I was an orphan, probably at 12," he said. By the time he was in high school, he was in trouble. "I was expelled from the Washoe County School District."
Offered the chance to go to the Intermountain Indian School, he took it.
"Usually, I was one of two native students in a classroom of, say, 40," he said, describing his experience in urban Reno, Nev. "Then I went to the entire opposite with all natives. ... I loved it. It was like a big, large family."
It wasn't easy for Wyatt, but he changed when his best friend died.
"I kind of made a promise to him, and to myself, that I was not going to waste my life," he said.
He got that chance when Hal Reeder spoke up for him.
"I took care of business, and went to school," said Wyatt, who now lives in Gardnerville, Nev., and is vice chairman of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.
"I fell into it, and went to the school not out of choice, but it turned out to be a positive experience."