Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

095_Des Moines Technical High School


095_Des Moines Technical High School


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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93 Tech (Photograph) DES MOINES TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL 1800 Grand Site 4.1 acres A technical high school for Des Moines was established in 1942 in the building which was formerly known as West High School. It was an outgrowth of a program of training adults for employment in defense activities which the school system had been asked to provide. The late Roy C. Wool- man, director of industrial education, took an active part in the organization of the technical high school. From 1942 until the end of World War II the high school program and the training of adult workers for industrial firms engaged in defense activities were carried on side by side. Meanwhile the school had grown from an enrollment of less than 300 the first year to approximately 450. This later enrollment was augmented by returning veterans seeking technical education. At times the number of veterans in training exceeded 250. After the war enrollment in the technical high school grew more rapidly, exceeding 700 in 1948, 900 in 1952, and 1100 in 1954. There was little growth in enrollment between 1954 and 1957, due primarily to crowded conditions at the former location. Since it was apparent that there would be an increasing number of high school students in the city and that the technical high school would continue to grow, the Board of Education was faced with the necessity of providing more facilities. The present enrollment of about 2000 shows the trend. Late in 1951 it was learned that the Solar Aircraft Company planned to vacate the building at 18th and Grand Avenue. This building was con' structed about 1916 by the Ford Motor Company for use as an assembly plant. It was acquired by the Solar Aircraft Company about 1940, being used as a plant for fabricating parts for jet engines. After study of many problems involved, it became evident that this building would provide the space required by a growing technical high school. A plan was developed to bring together at this location the technical high school, the administrative offices of the Board of Education, the furniture factory and repair shop, and the supply department and warehousing for the district. This program was presented to the voters who authorized the purchase of the building in May, 1952. According to agreement it was then leased to the Solar Aircraft Company while their new plant was under construction. The original building is approximately 450 feet long, 120 feet wide, 5 stories high in front, plus a ground floor level under the entire building and a sub-basement under approximately two-thirds of the building. The addition at the front of the building houses the auditorium; radio and television broadcasting booths, offices, and equipment; separate gymnasiums for boys and girls; and a swimming pool. The construction of the original building was such that it could not house any of these activities. There is ample space for the technical high school to grow by increasing enrollments in various areas and by providing instruction in new areas not now included. In addition the school will continue to expand in providing educational opportunities for adults. Tech High School in the mid-1970s continues to offer its specialized program of vocational and technical education to the students of the entire Des Moines school district. During the 1970s the following programs have been added: 1. Licensed Practical Nursing 2. Agri-Business 3. Marine Corps Jr. R.O.T.C. 4. Business Education A. M.T.S.T. training B. Legal secretarial training C. Medical secretarial Training D. Personnel receptionist training E. Business Communications 5. Trades and Industry Elective Courses A. General metals B. Practical electricity C. Industrial safety D. Blueprint reading and estimating E. Aero-science 6. Academics A. Math laboratory B. Reading laboratory C. World geography D. Value-conflicts E. U. W. Today F. Revised English curriculum