“It’s the first time in my experience of nearly 24 years of high school administration to have students enrolled whose parents cannot control them. When that is the case, there is little hope of school discipline being effective.”
The principal was expounding to the school’s Board of Trustees – 100 years ago. He was W.J. Connell, the high school’s very first administrator. The date was April 25, 1914 – just weeks prior to the end of the local school’s first year.
When the high school district was formed the previous year (1913), classes commenced that fall in the grammar school building. In the spring of 1915, construction of the high school building was completed and the student body moved into new quarters.
The enrollment that first year numbered 46 -- 16 boys and 30 girls according to Connell’s report to the trustees. He taught several subjects himself and had two other teachers on his faculty.
Connell didn’t find the combined campus at the grammar school to his liking.
“While I have no criticism to make on the administration of the grammar school, their system has been most annoying to me.
“Their hourly intermissions, when all their students are turned loose without supervision … made it impossible to carry on our recitations at that time.”
He continued, “There is always the immediate prospect of an ‘outbreak.’ The undisciplined set a bad example, leading almost invariably to a spread of disorder. And while school discipline must be maintained, yet there are many cases and many acts of willful irregularity between the first offense and the final act which results in either suspension or expulsion.”
Connell concluded, “All young people rebel at the restraints of home and school and are more or less constitutionally opposed to labor and industry; consequently one or two rebels in the ranks of students are pretty apt to have a following.”
The following spring – 1915 – construction of the new high school building was completed. Hopefully, student conduct improved.
And that, folks, was 100 years ago.
By Ron Swift, museum curator