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Eads High School, opening day 1916.

Long Time Gone and Building the New School House in 1916

By Betsy Barnett

November 16, 2022

Last week’s election brought positive news for those who supported the funding for building a new K-12 School in the McClave School District. The passing of a tax hike in order to build the new school comes with a sizable bill and there was most definitely a slight divide in those who supported the school tax hike (57.46%) and those who did not (42.54%). Of the 355 school district members who voted 204 voted for the new funding and 151 voted against it. The reality of a new McClave School building took a giant step forward with this vote, although everyone agrees this is going to be a costly endeavor.

The argument is really quite simple and has existed as long as there has been communities and children within those communities. The communities that want to provide the very best for their children in order to educate them in the best way they see fit and, therefore, many citizens will bite the economic hardship bullet and move forward on such a large and costly endeavor.

This has been the way schools have been built since the rural counties of southeastern Colorado were established. Kiowa County came into existence in 1889 and soon after there were thirteen school districts formed. But it would take a while for the people to find the funds to build the schools required by the reported 500 children who lived in the county.

By 1895 the push was on to start building the schools required to educate the county’s children. Many districts progressively moved forward with Sheridan Lake building a two-story school costing $2,000, Arlington built a large one-story school at a cost of $1,200, and Eads built a two-story brick building costing $5,000 that was blown down by a tornado in 1902.

For the first 25 years of the county’s existence, there were only primary schools built and maintained by their particular school districts. There were no high schools in the county, so students had to board out in Pueblo or other cities if they wanted to complete their education.

The first high school in Kiowa County was built in Eads in 1916 and became accredited as a K-12 school in 1917 with the first graduating high school class being the Class of 1917. The building represented a remarkable feat being three stories and able to house the some 350 students from 1st grade through 12th grade within its walls. The editor of the Kiowa County Press wrote the following editorial about the newly built school:

OUR NEW HIGH SCHOOL, Kiowa County Press, 1916

As much as has been said heretofore regarding our high school, we hardly believe that justice has been done it. Nor do we believe that all we might say would give a definite conception of what our school really is. We reproduce, on this page, a photograph of the building which will give some idea as to its outward appearance, but the only way to learn of the splendor and beauty of the Eads High School is to visit it and see the exactness which surrounds the arrangement of each department. This building is unsurpassed by any similar structure in Eastern Colorado, except in size and few surpass in that. It contains its own heating, lighting, and water systems, and is modern in every way. Eads is justly proud to possess such an institution.

But building alone does not make a school, and this fact the members of our Board of Education well realize, as they are using every effort to get the very best talent obtainable to look after the various departments. We feel that they and the people of Eads as well, are to be congratulated on the selection thus far. For leader of the school Prof. Henry B. Amyx as superintendent certainly can not be excelled.

For seven years he was employed in a similar capacity in the Osawatomie Kansas High School and gave the utmost satisfaction. His service in our school last year has pointed him out as the man for the place. Miss Louberta J. Smith, graduate of Manhattan (Kansas) College and teacher of Domestic Science last year, has been reemployed.

Mrs. Linna Cline, well known to Eads people, has been employed to look after the music department. Miss Irma Spurgeon, graduate of Central High School, Pueblo, and Greeley Teachers’ College will teach the primary grades. Harry C. Smith, also graduate of Manhattan College, will perhaps teach the intermediate grades. There are yet two high school and one grade school teacher to employ. The present board consists of John H. Link, President; S.R. Clark, Treasurer; and A. R. Rittgers, Secretary.

What better can we boast than good schools. Long have the spirit that made the Eads High School possible.

Unfortunately, this beautiful school had a life of just over twenty years as on the night of December 9, 1938, the coal boiler in the school exploded destroying the building structure.

After such a tragedy, the people again came together and agreed to fund a new school building for their children. The new building was built right away on the same site and is now the Eads Elementary and Middle School located on the corner of Maine and 10th Street in Eads. The current Eads High School building located on the same campus but at the corner of Luther Street and 10th Street was later built in 1963.

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