Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

084_East High School History


084_East High School History


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

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82 Court of Iowa in an opinion handed down on July 7, 1908. By this time the conditions at East High were such as to demand immediate relief. The new school board agreed that a new building adequate "to the present needs and future needs, should be built." The cost of the building would have increased the indebtedness of the school district beyond the legal limit. The Thirty-third General Assembly passed a bill allowing school districts of cities having a population of 65,000 or over to become indebted up to two and one-half percent of the actual value of the taxable property within the district, for the purpose of building and furnishing, a schoolhouse. This bill was Chapter 184 of the Acts of the Thirty-third General Assembly, May 21, 1909. One of the provisions of the bill was that before an indebtedness in excess of the pre-existing legal limit could be contracted, a petition signed by 2,500 electors, owners of real estate, asking for the erection of such a building, must be presented to the Board. Such a petition was prepared and circulated among the business men of Des Moines by a committee appointed by the East Des Moines Commercial League. East High students speedily circulated many petitions. On December 21, 1909, a petition with 2,994 names was presented to the Board. On March 14, 1910', the favorable vote was 7,695 for, and 2,153 against, issuing $400,000 worth of bonds for the erection of a new East High School. At this election women were allowed to vote. Ground for the building was broken September 6, 1910, by Miss May Goorell, principal. The cornerstone was laid January 18, 1911, by Miss Goodrell. Superintendent William Riddell gave the formal address. A few of the thirty-eight items that were placed in the corner stone were: 1. A Bible 2. An American flag 3. An Iowa Official Register 4. A Masonic directory 5. A copy each of the Register and Leader, the Daily Capitol, the Eve ning Tribune, the Daily News and Plain Talk 6. Copies of the school directory 1907-1911 7. Copies of the superintendents reports, 1907-08 and 1908-09. 8. Portraits of Amos Hiatt, for 20 years superintendent of East D.M., Mr. W. O. Riddle, first superintendent of the consolidated DM. district. Miss Goodrell, principal of East High 9. A football extra of each of the evening papers announcing East High victories. 10. Names of the Greater Des Moines Committee 11. A copy of the Des Moines plan of government Finally on May 17, 1912, after many trials and hardships the students and teachers marched triumphantly to the new school. Because the new building had cost so much, $400,000, it was impossible to have it furnished that spring. For this reason, the entire student body turned out with vehicles of every description to carry desks, chairs, equipment, books and waste-baskets from their old building to the new East High. A parade was formed by the students who marched to the new building, led by the G.A.R. Drum Corps of Kinsman Post No. 7. Within three hours after the moving began, the students were reciting lessons! East High was designed by the architects, Bird and Rawson. They used the classical style with the front entrance patterned after the north portico of the Erechtheum; the northeast door is taken from the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates; the northwest from the Tower Temple to Hephaestus. Throughout the building simplicity of the classic style is a factor. Much of the credit for the style and harmony of the building "is due to J. A. Mc- Kinney, who was president of the school board at that time." The motto, "For the Service of Humanity" over the front entrance was submitted by Charles A. Cumming in a contest held for that purpose. The ivy planted in 1915 was sent from Harvard University. The interest in athletics by East High students has always been very keen. Until 1893 baseball was the chief sport but it became less popular when track and football were begun in 1894. In 1895 the first track meet was held with the following high schools participating—East, West, North and Capitol Park. Neither Oak Park nor Grant Park entered this contest. East won the first meet as well as those for the next three years. Football was not common at this time and few boys knew how to play the game. Burdair Hartung, who owned a football used for Rugby, learned the game of football and taught it to some of his classmates who then formed a team. Football was adopted as a school sport through the efforts of Miss Millicent Cuplin, a teacher at East High in 1894. In that year, East played six games, losing only one. These victories in football seemed to call for school colors. The colors of Scarlet and Black, Grinnell College colors, were adopted by the East High Athletic Association. .The need for the development of a higher type of sportsmanship was seen as the football games often ended in a free-for-all. In 1904 Mr. S. A. Foster, offered the Foster Trophy to the Des Moines High School that won the city championship three years in succession. At the same time the students must conduct themselves in an orderly and friendly manner towards the opposing teams. East won this trophy, an American flag in 1910. The students who largely handled the athletic program, had much difficulty in finding a suitable athletic field. An old cemetery at East 18th and Maple was leased and converted into an athletic field. The tiling and grading cost about $2,800 and the senior class bought the bleachers with money obtained from a special benefit. The school board, convinced that this was a 'worthy1 project, contributed a fence and thus the "Alumni Field," dedicated by a large bonfire and speeches, was complete. The students expressed the wish that George Garton, Fred Van Liew Clark Beard, and J. A. McKinney should always have free admission to the field because of their untiring efforts in securing it.