Sedan School History

(School District #38)


Sedan School

Photo by Linda M. Zupan taken April 2000 - Final Sedan School


An overview of the Sedan School (September 1, 1895 - 1968)

Three school houses were built for the Sedan School which operated from September 1, 1895 through 1968. Over 200 students attended Sedan School throughout the years. It is understandable why new facilities had to be built to keep of with the influx of children over time though the location of the school didn't vary much.

At some point the original school building was moved to Josh Woosley's place which is now owned by Verna Lu Landis.

When the third building was completed the old school building was used as a teacherage and was later sold and moved in 1988.

When the Sedan district voted to consolidate with Wilsall School in 1968 and a Wilsall School bus circuit was created to serve this area, the Sedan School closed forever. The school house was purchased by the Sedan Community Club for a meeting hall.

The above information was gleaned through School Census Reports, personal accounts and research done by former students.

*In "Gallatin County Places and Things Present and Past" Second Edition (Bates 1994) different information dates are recorded for the Sedan School. "Sedan District #38 - 1888-1971 - Sec 3 T2N R7E: In 1888 there were 16 students. In July 1889, in a new school, the teacher, Miss Bates taught 13 pupils. The district reorganized in 1906. The school became the teacherage in 1930 when a new school was built. The student numbers from 1903 to 1967 were 29 to 4 students. In the last year, 1967, there were only 4 students (7 in 1965). Sedan is listed on the National Historic Register. The district was consolidated with Park County District #53 Wilsall in 1980."

First Sedan School House (designated School District #38) operated from September 1, 1895 - May 1901

1895: First Sedan School built near Josh Woosley home, log building assessed at $50

September 1, 1895 - May 8, 1896: First term Sedan School. Enrollment 29 students out of 48 children in community; the others were needed at home.

First teacher William Buzard (pronounced "Ba zard); salary for the first month $69.92. Kay Seitz's notes school was in session only 6 months. Total operation expenses $432.20. The building was heated by a large wood burning stove; fuel was probably donated by ranchers. Frank J. Clark and Joshua Woosley were the first trustees.

September 7, 1896 - February 26, 1897: Second school term Sedan School; grades 1-12. Teacher Getta Mason, 34 students in grades K-12. Her salary was listed at $45.00 per month. No explanation given for decrease in salary though it could be because the length of the terms varied between 6-8 months in the early years.

October 25, 1897 - April 21, 1898: 3rd term Sedan School, teacher Mr. L.B. Railshack/Railshask

October 10, 1898 - March 7, 1899: 4th term Maude Cook; 35 students, $45.00/month.

May 1, 1899 - July 25, 1899: Two terms added; second term taught by Daisy Chrisman, 25 students. School site valued at $200.

1899 - 1900: No dates listed

1900: Work started on new schoolhouse

September 17, 1900 - May 1901: Last term of the first Sedan School building, 34 students enrolled with an average daily attendance of 23.Sedan states, no library and a limited number of books." Daisy Chrisman was paid $50.00 per month for that term.

Second Sedan School House (September 25, 1901 - 1921)

September 25, 1901 - March 10, 1902: First term for second Sedan schoolhouse - Teacher Mrs. W. Monson/Manson - salary $50.00, enrollment 32 students.

At some point the original school building was moved to Josh Woosley's place, now owned by Verna Lu Landis. New building of frame construction included a classroom, cloak room for boys and girls, and small room for a library. The "complex" had outdoor toilets for boys and girls and a horse barn (for saddle horses ridden to school).

New building valued at $800, heated with a large "pot-bellied" wood burning space heater. A well was dug behind the school where a long-handled pump provided water.

The teacher's salary - $50 per month

September 8, 1902 - April 13,1903: Teacher - Addella Zimmerman's salary $50.00, school gained possession of a school library, 8 Maddox children and 6 Woosleys enrolled

1910 Sedan School library has 200 volumes, Teacher's salary increased to $70/month

September 1, 1910 - 1911: Mrs. C. Wise begins school term with 29 students, replaced during year by Miss Thompson for an "unrecorded reason." "School was held in the present teacherage at Sedan. It was a building with four rooms, two very small rooms and two larger rooms," (Seitz 1962). The teacher salary was raised to $70.00 per month.

There were eight holidays during the term. "Pioneer Day" was noted by Warren Reichman as being unfamiliar to "us in modern times." Observed the first Friday in November, unclear as to whether it was annual holiday or declared for that year only.

Library's 200 books valued at $200. School site at $75.00, building valued at $1,000.

1920 - 1921: Teacher, Mrs. Slerritt, received a salary of $100 per month.
(Seitz 1962) "The school year of 1920-1921 opened in July, and closed in June."

This building (second school) was later used as a teacherage, sold then moved in 1988.

During the decade of the 1890s there was another school house operating "on the west side of the valley" first called West Side of Flathead Valley. No records were available for it but Josephine Reichman, Warren's aunt, taught there during the 1894 -1895 school term with an 8th grade education from Bozeman

February 28, 1911: Residents of old school petitioned for another school, old district abandoned, new district designated "East Flathead District No. 66, later known as Pass View School, small one-room frame building operated on land owned by H.R. Reichman.

Late teens - Early 20s: An influx of homesteaders on the north side of the valley in the
prompted the building of another schoolhouse in that area." Located on Muddy Creek near the Kister-Hardy Reservoir, designated as "Sunnyside School District No. 65" but was also referred to as the Sagebrush School and sometimes Sunshine School.

*East Flathead School #66 Consolidated with Sedan School #38*
*Land purchased for 3rd Sedan School House*
*Sedan School Acquires a School Wagon*

April 16, 21 Residents vote to consolidate East Flathead #66 with Sedan School #38.

1921: Land purchased for 3rd Sedan Schoolhouse, a two-room frame building constructed complete with concrete floor and indoor plumbing. Water was piped into the building from a natural spring on a hillside in back of the school house. Large "cloak" rooms for boys and girls were furnished with wash basins and indoor toilets. Old building (second school) used as a teacherage and was later sold and moved in 1988.

A large hot-air furnace installed in the basement could burn either wood or coal. Heat was sent to the classrooms through air ducts to large floor registers in each room. On cold winter days "youngsters riding saddle horses to school could come in and stand over the registers, letting the hot air blow up their pantlegs or under their dresses to thaw out," as told by Warren Reichman. Large "ricks" of wood stacked near the end of the building. Coal had to be transported by team and wagon from Wilsall, 12 miles away. Deep mud or snowdrifts caused the coal bin in the basement to be empty for weeks at a time.

Third Sedan School House (1921 -1968)

1920's Teacher's salary $100 per month (including janitorial duties) According to Warren Reichman, "teaching of freshman and sophomore classes was attempted. It was not very successful and after the one term, high school was discontinued."

1921: 3rd and final Sedan School house opens - barn constructed for students' horses. A clerk was added at salary of $10.00 per school term

1921 Sedan School acquires a school wagon. The "school wagon" was a spring wagon made out of a grain box, according to Warren and "larger than most buggies, covered with a rectangular canvas top. The tailgate had a door in it and outside steps could be turned down for entering. Inside benches on each side of the box provided seats for maybe a dozen children. I can remember it being used only one year, or part of a year, when Hurley Godwin, a bachelor ranch hand who was employed by various ranchers during busy seasons, drove the team. It wasn't very successful, probably because it took too long to drive a team around the country road that circled the valley. First students would have to get on the wagon about 6:00 a.m. in order for it to make the circle and get back to the schoolhouse by 9:00."

Ardyce Inabnit recalls, "The driver in the winter would cut through the fields and cross the barb wire fences that were buried in the snow. One day the kids got the bright idea to all shift to one side to make the sleigh rails cut deeper in the snow. The sleigh tipped over and a fence post rammed through the canvas cover. Apparently there were no serious injuries."

Ardyce Inabnit said that as she got older, she rode her horse to school so the district paid her $15 a month to provide for her horse as the other kids were older and were no longer attending school, so the bus was not needed.

One winter morning there was a fresh 2 foot snowfall, so Ardyce's father rode to school with her. He rode Maud S., a purebred quarterhorse, "full of spit and nervous." Ardyce rode Dolly, a mare. Running through the barnyard there was a creek with a ford in the barnyard and a pool above the was cold and the pool was frozen over...the horses didn't like the ice at the ford, so her father headed Maud S. to the stream and jumped her in the pool above the ford. Dolly followed with Ardyce. When they got to school Ardyce tied Dolly up in the barn at school. It was so cold that the water froze on Dolly's hair in clumps all over like "little bells that jingled."

1923 -1924: Miss Frances Orth, teacher, no longer enough students for two classrooms, so one classroom remodeled by Wade Inabnit into living space for Miss Orth and her Mother, Mrs. Orth from Minnesota. Frances Orth was amazed at the few number of nails that were used to do this job.

1923 - 1927: Teachers Miss Bautch (upper grades) and Miss Johnson (lower grades)

1924 & 1925: Miss Frances Orth

1924 Warren Reichman begins Sedan School career

1924 - 1932 Some years teachers paid Warren $10 a month to build a fire in the furnace each morning, stoke it during the day, empty wastebaskets, and sweep the floors. Several of his friends would help him during recess carry the ricks and throw them down the coal chute. Warren wrote, "The schoolhouse was used occasionally on Saturday nights for community dances and card parties and one day while my friends were helping me carry wood, we found a bottle half full of moonshine whiskey which some Saturday night reveler had evidently hidden in the woodpile and couldn't locate again. We sneaked our find into the basement and proceeded to sample the stuff. The teacher, Margaret Williams, never did find out why we four boys were so unruly that afternoon and why one of the boys became sick and vomited before he could get to the door. Must have been something he'd "et," was all they could figure.

Warren also mentioned the cesspool for the sewage system caused drainage problems. Joe Whitman, one of the trustees at the time solved a flooding problem by taking out a section of drainpipe and plugging it with a chunk of wood. He turned off the water supply, except for a faucet in the basement, and the school was without toilets. "Pupils had to go to the horsebarn or walk over to the old schoolhouse toilets for relief. After a couple of months the school board arranged to have two outdoor toilets constructed. Quite a few years passed and I had finished the eighth grade before a concrete septic tank was constructed at the end of the schoolhouse and the indoor toilets were put in operation again."

Another story Warren shared, "Although the Sedan School was equipped with a kerosene cooking range, the hot lunch programs attempted never consisted of more than soup and cocoa. Pupils all brought sack lunches to school except those from the Woosley place, who could dash home during the noon hour. Lunches were usually left in the cloak rooms or anteway that separated classrooms from the outside door. One day the outside door-closing device became stuck and the door was open all morning. Several of the youngsters were always accompanied to school by their dogs and this day the dogs came inside and feasted on student lunches. Mrs. Woosley learned of the tragedy and fixed a luscious dinner for those who had lost their lunches. The next day the teacher was aghast to learn at noon that someone had tied the door open and again Mrs. Woosley was called upon to furnish lunch for the "unfortunate" students. They liked her menu. After that the teacher made it a point to check on the outside door occasionally during the a.m. hours."

1924-1925: Miss Davis, teacher. School fenced part way yet open to the county road to keep the cattle out of the school yard. Poles along the top of the fence challenged kids to "walk the poles" during recess and lunch time.

1926-1928: Teacher Miss Mary Bautch later became a nun and moved to Zuni, New Mexico and taught Hopi Indian children. Miss Bautch corresponded with some of her students after the summer of 1928.

1928 - 1929: Mrs Frances (Orth) Inabnit
1929 - 1930: Mrs Frances (Orth) Inabnit
1929 - 1930: LaVetta Hembroff Taught through first term July 1 - October 26, 1929

May 25, 1930 - November 6, 1930 - May E. Jones, teacher. Annual salary $1350 per school term. 575 volumes in school library, superintendent made two visits.

1930 - 1931: Margaret Williams

Sunnyside School Closes (1932) Wendall Francis buys building, moves it to his ranch

1935 - 1936: Miss Barber is a teacher at Sedan School

October 1935: Eunice McKeown transferred in as 7th grader from Billings. She wrote in A History of Park County Rural Schools 1877 - 1990, "Lunch was outside if nice, inside huddled around the furnace vent if cold. Life magazine was pretty new and one teacher glued the pictures done by the old masters together (nudes) and we'd work and work during lunch hour to get the pages apart. Never knew just what I expected, but remember being disappointed cause we'd gone to all that trouble and it was only naked people."

Eunice also recalled, "Decorations for the community Christmas tree were needed. I spent days-into weeks hauling pine cones in a gunny sack tied on the back of my saddle to school. If we were very good we got to paint the cones with enamel paints; no dipping, all done with small brushes. When dry strings were attached. These were added to the tree along with popcorn strings, etc. I've heard the cones were used for many years."

"Our Christmas programs were held above the Cheese Factory. Everyone had a part, but Stella Palmer was our star."

"One of the colder days remembered found the temperature dropping into the minus 50s. Teachers dismissed us at noon so we could struggle home in the warmth(?) of the day and then I believe they went to their homes and prayed for us all. No phones to call parents to come and get kids, no phones to see if they made it home. They didn't know about some of us until the weather warmed and we showed up at school again. They were always so glad to see us."

Anita was "sent home with the Palmer kids. The next day the Palmer's let me start for home about noon. When Dad found me at Lamson's, I had frosted my face, but Trusty Butterfly (her horse) got me there. Mrs. Lamson fixed hot chocolate, heated mince pie, rubbed my feet, put down the oven door, etc. Butterfly was in the barn eating oats. I got on behind Dad on old "Banjo" to ride the rest of the way home and Butterfly followed."

"Another spring item was the "Tick Fever Shots" (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). It was a community shooting. Parents could take the shots or not...Sedan students didn't get a chance to make a choice. The school nurse came from Bozeman, lined us up and just shot us. They were painful. Even in high school it was a no choice. They somehow got those of us from the Sedan area back to the Sedan School and shot us; we Sedanites were bussed to school, lined up and "shot" for all four years of high school."

October 1935: Mrs. Everett (Lane) Hunter taught Grades 1-4
October 1935: Mrs. Bryson taught Grades 5-8

1939/1940: Miss Frieda C. Clinton was Jene Pergande's teacher.

1942 Sedan School teacher's salary shrinks to $1050 due to the Great Depression. Sedan School Library now contains 423 volumes and school owns 379 texts.

1942: During World War II years, Sedan had difficulties hiring and keeping teachers. For this term, Francis Jones Hewitt, local housewife with teaching certificate, conceded to teach as a substitute only, she started the year on September 14, 1942.

In September and part of October 1943 there wasn't a teacher in Sedan School. So, the children just didn't go to school or some went other to other schools until a teacher was found for Sedan School. Marvin Miller was to start school in 1943 so he went to Bozeman Schools for about 6 weeks while waiting for class to start in Sedan. When a teacher was located school began in October of 1943.

October 14, 1943: Ina C. Wyatt hired as Sedan School teacher.

March 7, 1944: Teacher Ina C. Wyatt replaced by Mrs. Miller, mother of students Margaret, Gail and Marvin Miller. Teacher salary $1035. Total school expenses $3375.48, Lawrence Blattie, school clerk, salary of $61.10. Library has 423 volumes, school owns 379 texts. Roy Waddell, Joe Whitman, and Wendall Francis are trustees.

1945 - 1946: Mrs. Lula Weber taught for "3 or 4 years" and her children Martha Jean and Paul attended the Sedan School. She was Anita Inabnit's 5th grade teacher.

1946 - 1947: Sybil Corrigan, sister of Roberta Fastje, taught a portion of the year. Anita Inabnit was in 6th grade. It was a tough winter and Sybil walked from Fastjes' to teach. Anita believed Mr. Wilson replaced here prior to the Christmas Program that year.

1946-1947: Mr. Chris Wilson taught upper grades. He and his family lived in the teacherage. Marvin Miller remembers acting up in school and Mr. Wilson turning him over his desk and paddling him. He can't recall why he got paddled but knew he deserved it and that he didn't do whatever it was again!

Chris Wilson

Teacher Chris Wilson with students Carol & Marge Waddell in April 1947

1947 -1948:

Eva Lachenmaier taught primary grades, 15 students: Lyle Woosley, Terry and Pat Gray, Nancy and Jimmy Francis, Norman, Neil, Larry, and Marcella Spring, Eleanor McNamer, Ella Mae Kurtz, Margery Waddell, Myrna Fastje, and her children Sonja and Ralph Lachenmaier

Some of Eva's fond memories of her time at Sedan School:

Many of the children walked or rode horseback to school. Wesley Burns road five miles each way to complete the 8th grade. Getting to school on very cold days was difficult. Mrs. Lachenmaier remembers rubbing Anita Inabnit's feet when she arrived at school in tears on a very cold morning after the usual walk. The children enjoyed sliding down the hill just southeast of the school.

Once when Sonja Lachenmaier was sick Eva borrowed Margery Waddell's horse and made the trip home to see her during the lunch break.

Mrs. Francis, who played the piano, volunteered to accompany the Christmas program and even made it for rehearsals.

Mr. Spring drove his children to school and often picked up the Lachenmaiers as they walked to school. At Christmas time they found a Christmas tree at their gate which was a thoughtful and much appreciate gift from Mr. Spring...Eva wrote "these are the episodes that bind communities together."

One mid-April morning Eva was off to the hospital instead of school when her daughter Janis was born. A neighbor, Mrs. Christie, went to the Lachenmaier's home, built a fire, and fixed breakfast for the three children. Janis is now a teacher in Luther, Montana.

Eva's good friend Ina Denton, "a prepared teacher," finished the 1948 year for Eva who was on maternity leave.


Sedan School Bus route established (1948). Students riding were; Tim Petterson, Carol Waddell, Anita Inabnit, Adrian Inabnit, Nancy Francis, Marg Waddell, and Damond Inabnit. Bus driver Herb Bates drove a bus in Wilsall-Sedan area over 36 years.

Miss Jenson was Anita Inabnit's 8th grade teacher.

Anita McNamer writes "One of my fond remembrances of the Sedan School was the Christmas Play the winter of 1948, as near as I can recollect. The play was held in the old Cheese Factory. I was the mother in the play and Damion Inabnit was the father and Billy Palmer was the son. The first rehearsal was a riot! At the start of the play, I was "mixing" up a Christmas cake and the son wanted to lick the dish. By the time I rolled off the list of things "Billy" had already eaten so far that morning, the rest of the students and the cast were practically rolling in the aisles. I still get a good chuckle out of that particular memory of my days as a student of Sedan School!"

Anita also recalls, "recesses and noon hour in the winter when all of the kids would ride our sleighs down the hill by the old teacherage. I think the hill belonged to the Koch family. We'd all come back to class soaking wet at times but rosy-cheeked and full of ourselves for that fantastic ride we had just taken down the hill as the bell had rung to bring us back to class."

1949 -1950: Teacher is Mrs. Frances Hewitt

"Baby Boom," two rooms of school now needed, second teacher hired (1950)

1950 -1951: Mrs. Zillian Hawthorne
Mrs. Erma B. Willes & Mrs. Francis J. Hewitt lived in teacherage across from school

1951- 1952: **Trustees had trouble keeping teachers this year:

September 1, 1951 - January 5, 1952: Mary Kurtz was the teacher then and former student Kay Seitz writes, "I was in second grade at the time...and she scared me to death every time I looked at her. I don't believe she ever smiled."

December 4, 1951: Mrs. A. Mullen started but had a heart attack at Christmas time and couldn't come back. Some of the teachers who taught that year were: Mrs. Roberta Fastje, Oma Reinke (taught in the upper room) and Mrs. Francis Wood

1952 - 1953: Mrs. Maudie Sturdevant & Mrs. Francis Wood

1953 - 1954: Mrs. Maudie Sturdevant & Mrs. Ann Sanders. Mrs. Sanders was said to have been "an excellent teacher" according to former student Kay Seitz.

Kay Seitz summarized her education at Sedan School in this way:

"Sedan School was a leader before it's time! Sedan was a two room school house with a 'Big Room' and a 'Little Room' The students were divided [by grades]1-4 in the 'Little Room' and 5 - 8 in the 'Big Room.'

Two teachers were employed. Students were assigned the custodial duties and everyone worked together to keep the school clean and in good
working order. Parents came in periodically and scrubbed and waxed the floors.

Sedan had a good library for the time and had many good books for students to choose from. They also had many innovative teaching methods. Peer tutoring was alive and well, cooperative learning, multi-age classes, higher level and critical thinking were in place, gifted and talented education was addressed, studies were extended for students who needed that, special help was given to those who had special needs.

Things like compacting and differention and all the modern terms were in place many years ago, only they weren't called anything. Teachers and students did what they needed to do and excelled. Students at Sedan scored high on the standardized achievement tests given yearly, usually the Stanford Achievement. Eighth graders had to pass a rigorous test to pass from grade school to high school.

Students had many opportunities to show their expertise in spelling bees, math matches and declamation contests. The teachers read to us daily and thus started many students on a life long road to reading that still continues today."

1954 Sedan School bus route changes due to increase in students. It then traveled west from the Four Corners as far as Ernest Chriske's, north as far as Roy Waddell's. It also went over to the Charles Robinson ranch.

County pays transportation for students riding bus, very few times noted bus did not run.

Sedan School students rode horseback to school most of the time. Up until 1957 riders were Myrna and Robert Fastje, Kay and Greg Seitz, Lyle and Judy Woosley, Jim Francis, and Butch Waddell, who rode to school for 7 years.

1954 - 1955: Mrs. Maudie Sturdevant & Mrs. Louisa Petterson
1955 - 1956: Mrs. Maudie Sturdevant & Mrs. Louisa Petterson

Mrs. Sturdevant made a great impression on the school and later became superintendent of Schools in Rosebud County

Enrollment Drops at Sedan School Only One Teacher is now needed

1956 - 1957: Mrs. Louisa Petterson

Sedan School 7th & 8th Graders Sent to Wilsall School (12 students in 6 grades)

1957 - 1958: Mrs. Florence Case
1958 - 1959: Mrs. Florence Case

School Enrollment Continues to Drop through the 1960s

1959 - 1960: Mrs. Florence Case
1960 - 1961: Mrs. Florence Case
1961 - 1962: Mrs. Florence Case
1962 - 1963: Miss Sallie Hamlett
1963 - 1964: Miss Pat Grabow

1964 - 1965: Mrs. Hare
1965 - 1966: Mr. Gary Maroney
1966 - 1967: Mrs. Marie Baker
1967 - 1968: Mrs. Marie Baker

Sedan District Votes to Consolidate with Wilsall (1968)
Sedan School Closes Forever!
Wilsall School bus circuit created to serve this area.

School house purchased by the Sedan Community Club for a meeting hall.

Donald Thompson - He homesteaded in this community and spent several years here. He had a splendid education having spent several years as a teacher according to information provided by Warren Reichman. Unsure When and where he taught.


School house purchased by the Sedan Community Club for a meeting hall.

1988: The second Sedan School house sold and moved.

The Sedan School Bus:

The Sedan School Bus began running in 1948. Students riding the bus at that time were Nancy Francis, Adrian Inabnit, Anita Inabnit, Damond Inabnit, Jim Koch and Lois Koch, Tim Petterson, and Mar Waddell, and Their driver was Herb Bates who drove a bus in the Wilsall-Sedan area for over 36 years.

In 1954 the route changed due to an increase in students. It then traveled west from the Four Corners as far as Ernest Chriske's and went north as far as Roy Waddell's. it also went over to the Charles Robinson ranch.

The county paid the transportation for students riding the bus and there have been very few times noted that the bus did not run.

Sedan School Reunions

July 1997

On July 19, 1997 Sedan School celebrated a reunion known as "75 Years of Memories," thanks to the committee of Dela Koch Rider, Anita Inabnit Petterson, Adrian Inabnit, Linda Inabnit Walton, Jim Koch, and Leona Christie Koch. Also assisting were Tim Petterson, Guy Chriske, Bob Christie, Butch Waddell, and Russell Robinson, many of which were former students.

Approximately 245 people attended from Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, and across Montana.

Three generations from one family attended this event; Myda Christie Inabnit, Anita Inabnit Petterson, and Vicky Petterson Nardella.

Seventy five years marks the time the third and final Sedan School building was in operation as a school as of the 1921/1922 school year through 1968. The reunion was dedicated to the memory of the school's past teachers. The teachers who attended were Eva Lachenmaier, Ina Denton and Gary Maroney (taught 1965/1966). Mrs. Frances Wood had planned to attend but died on July 3, 1997 at the age of 91.

July 2000

Dela (Koch) Rider arranged another Sedan School Reunion which was held on July 22, 2000. Approximately 100 former Sedan students came from Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Wyoming, Washington and all across Montana. Butch Waddell barbecued a beef roast for the event. Two former Sedan teachers attended; Gary Maroney and Ina Denton.


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