COBWEB CORNERS: 90 years ago - the opening of West, North and SouthBy Mel McFarland
In the fall of 1924, School District 11 opened its three new junior high schools. Up to then there were no junior high schools. The elementary school students went on to the high school downtown. South was the first to open, then North and lastly West.
In September West was not yet finished. The newspapers carried stories about the progress, but opening always seemed to be "next week." Registration started, finally, at the end of the month. The upstairs rooms were ready and some of the first-floor rooms were too, but workmen still had not finished the gymnasium, auditorium and most of the hallways. Four weeks behind schedule, word went out that West would open.
At 8:30 a.m. Oct. 6, 1924, the doors opened for slightly more than 400 students. They still would not have regular classes for a week, while workmen continued to finish.
The interior of the three schools was identical, while the exterior treatment was slightly different. West was the only one with the red bricks, while the other two were tan.
A contest for words for a school song was but one novelty of a new school. A school museum was started by the science classes. Collections of minerals, mounted birds and small animals were already being prepared. Art classes as well as local artists would provide cheerful illustrations around the building.
The newest treat for those in physical education classes was the opportunity to have a shower at the end of the class. But that wouldn't be possible until the gym opened in November. In the meantime, their classes were held in the school across the street.
Once West Junior was operating under a normal schedule, a few extra days needed to be added to the calendar to cover requirements. By the end of the school year, things were still not fully settled. With the start of school in 1925, the routine was finally set. The center court of the building actually had grass, flowers and small trees.
(Posted 9/23/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)