SQUAW GAP, N.D. (AP) - Small country schools have been disappearing as the farms and families around them shrink, but the Squaw Gap school is hanging on.
The McKenzie County school, which has been operating for 102 years, has just two students this year. It serves kindergarten through sixth grade.
It began the year with three students, but one family moved away. That leaves two students, one of them the son of teacher Melissa Frohlich.
"Sometimes it's hard for him to tell the difference between mom and teacher," Frohlich said. "It depends on what he wants, but it's a lot better than it was last year. I have a newfound respect for people who have home-schooled for years."
Frohlich's son, Tyler, is a first-grader and the other student, Lindsey Minow, is a third-grader. Lindsey's father and her two older sisters attended school at Squaw Gap. The Minow family lives about a half-mile from the school.
"You get to know the kids on a personal basis. They become part of your family. pretty much," Frohlich said.
Squaw Gap maintains a regular school schedule.
"We start at 8 a.m. and we run until 2:30 in the afternoon," Frohlich said. "We cover all the basics. Team activities for PE are a little tough, but we have fun."
Frohlich also is the school's principal, she said, so misbehaving in class "doesn't get you anywhere.
"But you really couldn't ask for better kids, even when I had six of them," she said.
Once each month, Frohlich takes her students to Watford City for swimming. They are joined by the eight students from the nearby Horse Creek school, another small rural school.
The biggest event of the year is the annual Christmas program, held across the highway from the school at the Squaw Gap Multipurpose Center, the only other building in town. Students and adults from the area are recruited to help.
Last year's attendance was estimated at just less than 100, making it a huge event for Squaw Gap.
Despite being isolated and small, the Squaw Gap school uses computers, the Internet, a fax machine and microscopes.
Frohlich, who says her teaching duties leave her little free time, lives in a home on the school grounds - one of the perks of teaching at a small, rural school, she said.
With a five-member school board outnumbering the total of students and staff, it might seem the days of the Squaw Gap school are numbered. Legislators have considered closing small schools that do not have a high school.
"The state has tried for years to get rid of the little schools. I don't know how much longer we'll survive," Frohlich said. "I would like to say we'll go on forever, but those aren't my decisions."
She hopes the Squaw Gap school stays open.
"I love it," she said. "I don't ever want to see it end,"