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Colville High History Highlights

by Othel O'Keefe

In 1896 and 1897 there were 72 school districts and no high schools in Colville and as there were so many young people ready for a higher education, Eels Academy came into existence. On March 25, 1896, Rev. A. J. Bailey of Seattle, Rev. T. W. Walter of Colfax, Rev. Wm. Davies of Rev. E. J. Saunders of Spokane, met with Rev. T. W. Lewis of Colville for the purpose of holding a fellowship meeting. At the meeting, which was largely attended, many eloquent addresses were made, with animated speeches by the citizens, in which the crying need of of a high school for the young people of the county was declared, It was decided to found an academy at Colville and the following morning another meeting was held, when the trustees, advisory board, and building committee were appointed. In a succeeding meeting, the institution was named Eels Academy, in honor of Father Eels, the great educational pioneer of the northwest.

In October 1897, Eels Academy opened with an attendance of about twenty pupils, under the directorship of Professor Woodcock assisted by an efficient corps of teachers. Classical, commercial and normal courses were offered, At the beginning of the spring term, the academy building, which is now the Grammar School was completed, and here, in May, the first closing exercises were held. Professor Woodcock, on account of illness and the death of Mrs, Woodcock, resigned his principalship.

October, 1898, Professor Davis, assisted by Miss Kierman and others, took charge of the academy. During the winter, fortysix pupils were enrolled, The steady increase of attendance adn the tuition charged, together with donations of money, books, etc., aided in financing the institution. The school successfully conducted work that was most thorough and efficient, no pupil being allowed to leave a subject unless upon examination, a grade of 90% was made.

The year 1900 witnessed the first graduations from the academy. The few young people to receive diplomas on the evening of June 16 of that year were the Misses Flora Dingle and Charlotte Wolff, who graduated from a scientific course, and George Backus and David Lewis, who graduated from special courses.

The removal of the academy in 1901 necessitated the establishment of some education institution to take its place. For three years following the removal of the academy, only ninth and tenth grades were given, and in connection with the grammar school grades, under Principal Arsten. In 1904-05, Professor Graves established the 11th grade.

In the school year of 1906, Professor Richard Cummings was elected to the principalship of the Colville High School, which came into being through Mr. Cummings efforts, He can be said to be the organizor of our Highs Schools. In the spring of 1907, the first graduation of this school was held, Harold Dexter being the only graduate.

From this meager beginning the Colville High School rapidly increased in attendance. The old academy building was remolded and modern equipment was supplied. In the second class Jocelin Knapp, Charles Wright, Marjorie Ide and Neal Ledgerwood were the only four graduates. In 1907 the High School had a Chemistry laboratory. To graduate, four years of Rhetoric, Algebra, Solid and Plane Geometry, a choice of 4 years of German or Latin, Physics, Biology, General Science, Chemistry, and Ancient and Medieval History were necessary.

In 1911 the High School proper was removed from the old building to the present Junior High School building. Professor Cummings remained as the principal of the High School until 1914.

Professor Clark took up his duties in Colville in the fall of 1914. Through his increasing labors classical, scientific, commercial, English, Domestic Science and Manual Training courses were taught. Even at this early date the Colville High School ranked among the highest of the accredited schools.

One of the greatest achievements of the high school was the erecting of the gymnasium in 1917. For 5 years the Colville people had set their ambitions too high, and trying to realize a gym of $50,000 was too much. Then Supt. Levi Clark evolved a scheme whereby a very presentable gym could be erected at a cost of about $2,000. Through selling memberships and donations the money was raised.

Then under the leadership of Charles Humble and Supt. Clark, the students were organized into crews and took up the active work of construction. The work was started in the fall and continued straight through the winter.

On the night of February 23, 1917, the gym was opened by a big dance. The building was a wooden construction built on the same grounds as our present modern building.

The same year, namely 1917, the Dramatics Club of the Colville High School was organized early in October, under the leadership of Miss Irma Harrison.

The high school did its duty to America in 1917. Five high school boys: Ronald Cherryholmes, Ernest E. Tarios, Beorge Bennett, Guy Clark, and Donald LaFose, volunteered their services early in the war. Two high school boys, Phillip Porter and Silas Prindle, gave their lives to the cause.

At the same time that the boys were gone, the students were busy at home with active work with the Y.M.C.A. drives, Red Cross in the Domestic Art Department, and selling Liberty Bonds and Thrift Stamps.

In 1923 the "C" Club was founded by Mr. Scarborough to incite interest in athletics and provide better financing. Any one earning a major or minor letter were eligible and it was ruled tha tthe one having the most letters was president.

Other clubs developed. In 1924 the Pep Club was organized by Mr. Daniels and was an active body in keeping interest and pep in the High School until last year, 1934, when it was dissolved, The G.H.A.C. was organized in 1925 by Miss Seifert for the same purpose as the boys was two years before and any girl, who had won a letter in any girls sports were members. The president is elected by members and today Alice Hamp holds that office.

Dramatics were introduced in our schools early, and all the school plays, operettas, and programs were given at the Theater. Junior Proms were held in the I.O.O.F. Hall. Other school dances and parties, of which there were many, took place there too.

Colville's antagonistic feeling toward Chewelah hadn't developed as yet. Banquets, social affairs, and other receptions took place when their two teams met, as well as when Davenport, Kettle Falls, Deer Park and Hillyard competed. In 1917 Mr. Humble introduced soccer and the only game played in Deer Park, was lost. Football, baseball, and track teams were championships. By 1924 both boys and girls basketball had become prominent after several years of training in the new gym.

In 1926 the new high school building was completed and after schooling in the Methodist Church and Junior High School until September 20, classes were moved the new building.

Today the Colville High School ranks at the top of the third class type of High Schools of the State of Washington.

The standards which must be conformed with to be on the accredited list are the qualifications of the teachers, that is, a college graduate to teach high schools and a normal school education for the grades. The school building must be one of high rating with modern equipment, which is judged by an inspector from Olympia every year. The morals of the school are included in judging the standards of the school. To be accredited the library must be of specified grade. According to the size of the school, the number, kind and variety of books is stated and must be followed. The course of study is rather rigid and 3 years of English, 2 years social science, 1 year American History and Civics, and 1 year of Home Ed for girls are required. 24 credits are necessary in order to get a diploma of graduation.

Today the school is financed in the following way: 60% is given by the state government, 10% by the county, and the remaining 30% locally. Books are furnished by the school and only a small fee of $'s is charged, which makes it easier for more students to get an education.

In the 29 years since the establishment of the High School, Colville boasts of an alumni of over 1000. The largest class in the history of the school was in 1930 when 72 students received diplomas. That class graduated Mrs. Zella LaPlante, Dalbert Cole, Ivan Harlan, Archie Acorn, Aileen Simet, Charles Montgomery, and Marjorie Vroom. The smallest class was the 1916 group of which Clare Lee was a member.

Other alumni members who are well known in Colville are: Mrs. Winnifred Walsh, Roxie Willett, Tom Oakshott, Twila Snoddy, Reddie McKern, Elmer, Ralph, Edgar, Kenny, and Malcomb Gilbert. Pat Bresnahan, Grace Minzel, Archie and Wallace Buckley, Jean Hartwell, Julia and Elaine Gair, Rose Dannheiser and Katie Grinstead are former students of Colville.

Mrs. Tom Oakshott, Pete Noble, Lyndal Hydorn, Lillian Carman, Charles Wells, Chan St. Clair, Ralph Rice, and Olivia Olds all received a diploma from Colville HIgh.

Of the students who later became teachers in our own schools are: Mildred Rhoads, Clarence MemMuir, Edith Bailey, Vera Willett, Cliff Exley, Ida Fordham, and Margaret Brannigan.

Until after 1920 the alumni were an organized body, but so many have left Colville that today they are an unorganized body.

Through 29 years of existence our high school has made great strides and marks of its success can be seen throughout the community.

Copyright © 2011-2012 Rhonda Delles
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