More than 4,000 Grads
Editor's Note: We are indebted for historical data used in this article on the city schools to George Nye, county surveyor, and for many years science teacher at Warsaw high school.
More than 4,000 students have passed through the academic portals of Warsaw high school in its 78-year history. It is hoped that many of them will attend the alumni reunion today at the country fairgrounds.
The general program is scheduled at 5 p.m., to be followed by a picnic dinner at 6 p.m. Those planning to attend are urged to come earlier in the afternoon to register with class chairmen and to renew old acquaintances. In case of inclement weather, arrangements have been to use the facilities of the women's building on the fairgrounds.
The 132 graduates this year (the largest number in the school's history) little realize the progress that has been made in Warsaw in the filed of education in the little more than three-quarters of a century. However, there are a few living who have had the privilege of witnessing that progress.
Miss Minnie Gary, 96, of 118 South Detroit street, is the oldest living alumnus of Warsaw high school, graduating with the Class of 1879. Until recently Miss Gary lived by herself. She is now a patient at the Beaman nursing home in Warsaw. She knew members of the first class of 1878. There were only three Belle Weimer, Alice Carpenter and Mary Shaffer.
Others still living who graduated during the earliest period in the school's history are Miss Eulalia Everhard, 1886; Miss Lou Haymond, 1887; Mrs. Logan (Estelle Wahl) Williams, 1889; and Mrs. George (Mabel Haymond) Stephenson and Jack Shoup, 1890. All live in Warsaw.
Miss Everhard, of 521 East Center street, was a grade school teacher for more than 40 years at Center Ward. Miss Haymond, an employee in the law office of Widaman and Widaman for many years, lives at the corner of Main and Buffalo streets. Mrs. Williams, wife of the late Logan Williams, editor and publisher of the Daily Times, now Times-Union, makes her home at 528 East Main Street. Mrs. Stephenson, whose husband owned and operated Warsaw's leading department store, lives in the family home on Main street, next door to her sister, Miss Haymond. Associated with the old State bank 36 years and later with the Indiana State Bank and Trust company, Mr. Shoup is now retired and lives with his wife and daughter, Miss Mary Kathryn Shoup, at 516 West Center street. Miss Shoup is a science teacher at the high school.
Others who graduated during the 11-year period could be living. However, they could not be located two years ago when invitations were sent out for the alumni get-together.
First High School
The first high school was located on the corner of Market and Detroit streets and was known as the Union school. A two-story building, it had four large rooms on the first floor, three rooms and a superintendent's office on the second. Three class rooms, rest rooms and a furnace room were located in the basement. High school quarters were confined to a double room which extended across the south side of the top floor. Surmounting the top of the building was the belfry. Each day the janitor rang the bell 8:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. calling pupils to school. Dismissal at noon was 11:45 a.m., in the afternoon, 4 p.m.
At this time Warsaw was gradually emerging from the effects of the Civil War. During this transition period, our schools marked time more or less for want of leadership. Discipline had reached a low ebb. By 1877, the school board was looking for a new superintendent. Believing an outsider might prove to be a more effective administrator W. H. Wheeler was hired.
Mr. Wheeler took charge in 1877. He, too, felt that better discipline could be maintained if teachers were not local men and women and acted accordingly. He also applied some psychology and made the rough and rowdy students his right hand men. He apparently succeeded because the school buildings were kept in A-1 condition from then on.
It is believed that Mr. Wheeler was the first superintendent to give mental tests and to grade his students. Up until this time pupils were classed according to age and size with little stress placed on their knowledge or ability to learn. He left Warsaw in 1880, the year the old frame courthouse was placed on the antiquated list and construction of the new one started.
Since Wheeler's time many fine men have served as superintendent of schools in Warsaw.
John Poor Mather (1880-1887) is credited with starting the first school library; the contents were later tansferred to the present Carnegie library. T. J. Sanders (1887-1890) was an uncle of Frank (Candy) Sanders. Mr. Shoup and JudgeWalter Brubaker were pupils in the school at this time.
James H. Henry served from 1891 to 1897. The last year of his tenure, commencement exercises were held at the Opera House. Graduates presented the program. Some of them were John Webber, Carrie Jaques (music teacher in the city schools for many years), Orta Hendee, Ollie Stephenson, Bruce Paul, Mabel Thomas, Nora Woods, Malo Amunson, Donald Biggs, Alta Reed, Louie Chaplin and Mary Nelson.
After Mr. Henry came, Noble Harter (1897-1905) and J. J. Early (1905-1908). The superintendency was held by H. A. Kaufman from 1908 to 1917. In 1912 the first annual, "Tiger" was published. Some of the members of this class which dedicated the issue to Mr. Kaufman were Clem Michael, Joe Ettinger, president of the alumni association, Orval Phillips, local businessman, Ezra Graham, local attorney, and the late Frank Lucas, county sheriff and city chief of police for many years.
James Leffel, East Main street, served 26 years as city school superintendent 1917 to 1943. He saw the building which was used for basketball until the armory was built in 1930; the construction of the new East Ward in 1922; and later the enlargement of Center Ward to accommodate junior high school. Last of all, Mr. Leffel saw the remodeling of the old high school building. Two wings were added. It is now modern and fitted to take care of greater numbers of students and activities centered around a larger curriculum. Also during his years as superintendent, Mr. Leffel saw the construction of the athletic field which for 40 years had been the site of a dumping ground.
School board members during this period were Estil A Gast, road contractor, the late Flint Bash and J. Edward Headley, Allan Widaman, local lawyer, Lloyd Johnson, Ray Miner, and the late Wilbur Maish Sr., businessmen and industrialists.
Carl Burt became superintendent of the city schools in 1943. Under his guidance the education system continues to make great progress, is considered one of the finest in the state.
Oldtimers tell us that in the earlier years, pupils brought books from home to study. The Bible was often used as a reader. McGuffey's readers were used in the schools for several decades. They were later revised and were known as Eclectic readers.
The idea of anyone wanting to go to high school was a source of amusement. "What's the use of studying algebra, geometry and such?" was the general concensus of opinion. As a result of this attitude toward advanced schooling, an extremely high standard of work was turned out by high school students, inasmuch as those attending did so because they wanted to. School terms were from the middle of October until the middle of March. There was no compulsion.
New subjects introduced home economics, agriculture, physical training, shop work, manual training and eronautics were laughed at. People said, "girls could learn to cook at home; boys could learn to farm from their fathers."
At the turn of the century, anyone who wanted to teach in the country schools could do so if they had some training above eighth grade. Almost every summer, some of the leading school men would hold normal school. One year it was conducted at Pierceton. Any person could attend for a fee that was not prohibitive. For six weeks those who wanted to teach received instruction.
In town schools, the teacher was usually required to have some college training. It was considered quite an accomplishment in those days to hold a life license. Jesse Bruner was issued such a license in 1916; J. D. Lee Cline in 1914. Others were Jesse Eschbach, Allie Linam, of Leesburg, T. J. Sanders, Richard Vanderveer and H. F. Wilke, of Milford.
No teacher was ever more highly respected by his students than was I. W. Sharp, veteran of the Civil War. "Dad" Sharp, as he was known, was in charge of West Ward. His daughter, Miss Frances Sharp, of East Fort Wayne street, taught in the high school many years. Miss Sharp and Mr. Early numbered the rooms at the high school in 1905, the first year it was separated from the grades. In the fall of 1906 an art exhibit was held in the new school. Some of the pictures are still to be found at the high school.
Many mentors were outstanding in their service to school and community. In addition to Miss Everhard, one might mention George Nye, Miss Mary Simons, L. N. "Pete" Thorn.
Fun and recreation did not come "canned" in the early history of our town. If you wanted entertainment, you created it. Mr. Nye tells of one instance. A group of young men, "The Funny Boys," who kept things moving in their heyday fostered a circus and parade. One cage was filled with all the cats they had been able to catch for a week Bill Peterson, lion tamer, cracked his whip too sharply in another cage, and the "lion" turned on him. Gene Boydston was the lion!
Fourth of July celebrations, excursions, Sunday school picnics and balloon ascensions helped fill the amusement need. Lack of entertainment might have accounted for some of the hazing of freshmen that went on for a number of years. This practice ended tragically, however when Floyd Bibler, a sophomore, was killed while helping to take a group of freshmen to Palestine cemetery where they were to be tied to tombstones. The boy suffered fatal injuries when the car struck a pole at Zimmer's corner.
The first high school band, was organized in 1920. Phil Farren was the director. Later Frank Meredith took his place.
When basketball was first introduced, it was considered a girls' game. Boys were supposed to play he-man's games such as baseball or football. The first basketball tournament in Warsaw was played in the old Opera House. Only a few were played here as the building was condemned. In 1922 the late Merl Hodges built the community building on the north side of Fort Wayne street, north of the present armory. In the flood of 1927 the floor was ruined and had to be reconstructed. Many will remember this building, heated by four furnaces, set up in the corners, used as stoves. It served the purpose until the armory was built in 1931.
Anyone attending school while George Fisher was coach and teacher will recall his pep talks at assemblies-a real highlight. Some of the members of an earlier football team 1911-1912 were Red Maish, Lewis Meyers, Frank Lucas, Francis Bowser, Ed Anderick, Clem Michael, Pete McConnell, Walter Brant and Ernest Allen.
Athletic fields were, through the years, located east of Scott street; Riverview Park west of West street; Hillery's field in the south part of town; and Beyer's field east of the Beyer home on East Center street.
Warsaw Times Union Sat. June 23, 1956
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