Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

085_East High School Curriculum


085_East High School Curriculum


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.

File Name



Curriculum Changes at East High The curriculum grew as fast as the enrollment. The subjects offered now are quite different from the first course. Different languages were introduced into the curriculum—German in 1903, Spanish in 1915 and French in 1918. The study of German was discontinued in 1917 but has since been resumed. There were three four-year courses offered in 1908— 1. Latin 1. Scientific 3. Business Every student was required to complete four years of English, three years of mathematics and two and one-half years of history. In addition the requirements of the respective courses were: Latin—four years Science —three years plus an extra year of mathematics Business—commercial geography, bookkeeping, commercial law, and stenography. Students were allowed to elect subjects in the third and fourth years only. When manual training was introduced into the school in 1908, Miss Goodrell made the following report to Superintendent W. O. Riddell: "We are gratified that manual training has been added to the course at East High. I have waited long for this and have asked for it several times in the past seven years." In the same year, Miss Goodrell reported about the beginning and development of cooking classes in the school. "It was this desire that our school keep abreast of the times in providing means for the more practical side of education that led us four years ago to begin a series of cooking demonstrations once a week for all girls who desired to attend. The effort was materially assisted by the kindness of Mr. Jansen Haines of the Des Moines Gas Company, in donating a stove for our use. The demonstrations were given after school hours in the afternoon and the expenses were met by the proceeds of entertainments. The interest was so great, the course so successful, that it was repeated the next year. The third year a slight change was made. Mr. Haines extended his interest by donating the services of Mrs. Sarah Moore, demonstrator for the gas company and met all expenses of the food demonstrations. The past year we have enjoyed the privilege of Mrs. Moore's services, the school, however, meeting the other expenses." Through the years clubs have played a very important part in the school life of many students. The first formal club organisation was the Boys1 Debating Society which was recommended in 1901 by Miss Goodrell. The next club which lived any time at all was the Bible Club for boys, organised December, 1915. The Bicycle Club was a girls1 organization. The student council was introduced into East High in 1919 by Principal A. J. Burton. 83 The school publication, the QUILL, was started in the spring of 1905 by Miss Mary Patterson. The QUILL was quarterly until 1930 when it became a semi-annual and in 1963 became an annual. The SCROLL, a biweekly newspaper was started in 1930 by Mr. Kenneth Stratton. When Miss Goodrell was graduated from East High in 1877, she conceived the idea of an Alumni Association and assisted in its organisation. At first the meetings were held annually, later semi-annually when there were graduating classes in both January and June. In recent years with just June classes, the East High Alumni Association has met the first or second week of each June. Graduates comes from many of the fifty states and even from foreign countries. It is reputed to be the oldest high school alumni organisation in the United States. East High in the 1960s and 1970s The rising enrollments of the 1960s in the East Des Moines area required that an addition be built at East High School. Also there was the matter of modernization of facilities and in the 1950s and 1960s an adequate high school library became a standard feature of all of the high schools in Des Moines. Thus, plans were drawn and contract let in September, 1966, for eight classrooms and library addition to be built at the south of the original East High school building. The decision was made to use the same stone exterior finish so that there would be harmony in design with the existing facility. In 1973 there was a new wing added to the north of East High School replacing the inadequate cafeteria and the old outmoded classrooms on the third floor. This modern new facility again emphasized the need to maintain a vigorous academic program at East High by providing the physical plant to carry it out. In addition there was an addition to the heating plant at this time. Both the new north wing and south wing were air-conditioned facilities. Probably the most dramatic change in and around East High School has been the expansion of the school grounds. With the addition to the north, the city agreed to the closing of Walker Avenue and this incorporated into the immediate school grounds. Also, the square block to the west of East High School was acquired and converted to parking facilities. In 1975 an extensive plan was submitted to the School Board for landscaping and complete layout of the new land added around East High School. This plan totaled $250,000 When completed with plantings, East High School will be not only the same splendid building that it was before, but will have a more adequate landscaped background to show the dignity of the building. Other changes in the 1960s and 1970s that have taken place have been the expansion of the land area around Williams Field. Since this is now considered a city-wide stadium there was a need for adequate parking facilities. The city installed new mercury-vapored lights on the streets adjacent to the stadium so this was an improvement. Homes around the stadium were purchased and demolished. A gradual land acquisition has been taking place between Williams Field and the East High School physical plant. The ultimate aim is to have an open corridor exisiting from the high school to the stadium area.