Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Development of early Frederick Schools

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, May 24, 2011
The first Frederick High School nears completion in 1908 at 300 East Grand (site of current middle school building)
Early buildings served Frederick students
When Vol. II of the Tillman County History was published in 1978, a comprehensive early history of the Frederick School District was written for the book by longtime Frederick educator Estelle Faulconer and former superintendent Prather Brown.
Following are excerpts from their work, explaining location and construction of school buildings in Frederick’s earliest decades.
“The public schools of Frederick were organized in 1903 in the little town of Hazel, with one teacher and very few students. Early in the history of the district, the school building was moved from Hazel to Frederick and an addition built, making it a commodious six-room building. Professor A.A. Rogers, county superintendent, became the school’s first administrator.”
“In 1906 W.T. Dodson became superintendent of schools, which by then included 339 pupils and six teachers. The school grew rapidly and it was decided to build a central high school building on a site a bit north of where the school from Hazel had been relocated. (This was in the 300 block of East Grand Avenue where the present junior high school [currently Frederick Middle School] now stands). During the erection of this building, the school board rented a hall and some offices in the business section of the town, and the high school and eighth grade classes were conducted there.
“One of the early-day teachers, Anne D. Caldwell, 1905-06-07, remembers teaching in a concrete block building on the southeast corner of North 9th Street and Floral Avenue“ [current site of Benson Law Firm].
“While classes were being held downtown, the course of high school study was increased from two to four years.
“After completion of the new high school building [at 300 E. Grand], the old building was moved across the Frisco tracks and used for a ward building in the west part of Frederick. During the school year 1909-10, the enrollment grew to 1,100, and it was decided to build two other ward buildings, one in the south and one in the north part of town.
“Lowell School was built in the 800 block between North 12th and 13th Streets in 1911. Whittier School was built in the 500 block between South 12th and 13th Streets in 1911. [NOTE: This location as cited in the Tillman County History, Vol. II is incorrect. The original Whittier School was actually located in the 500 block between South 13th and 14th Streets. It occupied the whole block. When the "new" Whittier was constructed in mid-1950s, it was built at the same location but occupied only half the block.]. 
"When west ward patrons complained that they had only the frame school building, the district voted $5,000 in bonds and Emerson School was built in the 500 block between North 3rd and 4th in 1914.”
The second Frederick High School (later Central Elementary) was completed in 1923 at South 12th and Dahlia.
“As enrollment in the high school continued to increase, the old high school building became inadequate, and plans for the erecting of a new high school were made. This allowed the former high school to become a junior high. The last class to graduate from the old high school building was the Class of 1922.”
“The site chosen for the new high school was south of the old school… on South 12th Street facing Dahlia Avenue.
“The new building was completed in 1923. That year’s seniors transferred from the old building and were the first to graduate from the new high school. [NOTE: this is the building that we know as Central Grade School]
“The 1923 graduation class left as a memorial a full-size statue of George Washington which stood on a pedestal by the south door of the stage in the auditorium. One of the pranks played on George was to place a ragged straw hat on his head. The effect was quite humorous.
Frederick Middle School building soon after its completion in 1938
“This building served as a high school until 1950 when the present high school [at North 15th and Gladstone] was completed.” At that time the building at South 12th and Dahlia became Central Grade School.
“In 1938 when W.P.A. projects were available, the present Frederick Junior High [currently Frederick Middle School] building was built with the help of the federal government.”

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at tillmanokhistory@gmail.com.

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