- Washington High School (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Infobox Secondary school
name = Cedar Rapids-Washington High School
address = 2205 Forest Dr SE
grades = 9-12
established = 1956
type = public secondary
students = 1700
principal = Dr. Ralph Plagman
Administrators: Mr, Mike Johnson, Asst. Prinipal, Mr. Rick Williams, Asst. Principal, Mr. Paul James, Activities Coordinator, Mr. Tony Lombardi, Attendance Facilatator, Mr. Moe Blue, Facilatator
website = [http://crwash.org/ crwash.org]
Mississippi Valley Conference
colors = Royal Blue and Crimson Red
mascot = Warriors
city = Cedar Rapids
country = USA
yearbook = Monument
newspaper = Surveyor
seealso|Washington High School "for schools of the same name"
Washington High School is a
public high schoolin Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The First Washington High School
For 80 years, Washington was the flagship school in the Cedar Rapids community. Construction began on the first Washington in 1855 on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street S.E. It was a three-story brick building with a white belfry, and it was the largest public school in Iowa at that time. The original Washington was a grade school, and when it opened officially in 1857 it was only partially occupied. A private school preceded it by a few years, and there was a one-room school built at the corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street, S.E., in 1847. Washington replaced the one-room school and was a source of great community pride. By 1865 it was fully occupied with 300 students. Professor C. W. Burton took charge that year as the school district’s third superintendent.
In the late 1850’s and 1860’s, the school was known by various names – “the schoolhouse,” the “Cedar Rapids graded school,” and the “second ward school.” In 1875, schools in Cedar Rapids were all re-named after presidents. The oldest building was called Washington School.
It was 1869 before Washington became a high school, and in 1873 Washington had its first graduating class. There were two boys – John E. Leonard and Gordon Murray – and four girls -- Mary McClanahan, Eva Stiles, Julia Sargent, and Harriet Boyce – in the Class of ’73.
In 1887, Abbie S. Abbott began her 34-year tenure as Washington High School principal. There were three teachers and 69 students, but rapid growth lay ahead. Plans were underway for a new Washington High School, and construction began in 1890 on the south side of Greene Square Park. The new Washington High School opened in 1892 with a capacity of 500 students.
The Second Washington High School
In 1897, a fire may have weakened the building’s wooden superstructure. Abbott described the blaze:
“The flames which broke out in the boiler room about 6:30 p.m. caused a great amount of smoke. No one was hurt and the fire was extinguished quickly, but not before some damage had been done by the smoke and water….the fire occurred on Friday. On Monday the pupils were back in their classes.”
Enrollment at Washington High School had grown to 720 students by 1906. The school was badly overcrowded, but city elections failed to pass proposals for a west side high school or a new high school on May’s Island in the center of the city. Finally, voters approved an addition to Washington, which was completed in 1910. In 1911, there were 20 teachers and 838 students at the expanded Washington High School.
Music began at Washington in 1912 with the formation of the school’s first orchestra. The first girls’ glee club was organized in 1912 and re-organized as the Cecelians in 1920. The name came from St. Cecelia, patron saint of music. The ensemble’s motto was “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” A boys’ glee club was begun in 1916. Its motto was
“Look up – not down,
Look forward – not back,
Look out – not in,
Lend a hand.”
Even before the origin of any of those ensembles, an opera was performed by the seniors in the Class of 1910. The opera “Priscilla” was given at Greene’s Opera House on April 21 and 22, 1910. According to the yearbook:
“ ….those in attendance were not only greatly pleased with the delightful musical production but also were astonished and gratified at the wonderful talent and ability displayed by the high school students in producing a performance of so high an order of merit.No less worthy of mention are the two artists of the Class of 1910,
Grant Woodand Marvin Cone, who added greatly to the stage setting by designing and executing the stockade and block house in the first act, and Priscilla’s cottage, and the ‘Mayflower’ in the second act. To them also is due the credit of effective advertising through their clever posters.”
In 1887, the curriculum was primarily languages, mathematics, history, bookkeeping, and economics. Abbott added physics, chemistry, and other science courses as quickly as possible, and, by 1921, believed that Washington’s science laboratories “….are among the best in the state.” Abbott thought, however, that the automobile, telephone, and the moving picture had “….a rather bad effect on high school students.” When Miss Abbott resigned as principal in 1921, the faculty included 49 teachers and more than 1,000 students.
The 1920’s were halcyon years for Washington High School. Fraternities and sororities added to social life on campus, and athletic teams achieved at a spectacular level.
When Miss Abbott resigned as principal in 1921, the faculty included 49 teachers and more than 1,000 students.
William Shirerfirst studied journalism at Washington High School. When Abbie Abbott announced her resignation as Washington principal, Shirer wrote a piece about her for the June 4, 1921, issue of “The Cedar Rapids Gazette.” He quoted Abbot as saying:
“ ‘It was in ’87 when I first took up my duties as principal of Washington High School. The building was a small structure containing but four rooms. Not a big affair but then it enabled me to keep a closer eye on the whereabouts of some of my more adventurous students, than I am able to in the present building,’ she added with a twinkle in her eye.”
Shirer summed up Abbott’s career:
“Miss Abby S. Abbott has enjoyed her thirty-four years’ sojourn as principal of Washington High. While her thousands of students know that her strong personality has exerted its influence on them, she believes that the personal contact with so many young people has also had a stimulating effect on herself…She has surely made a record in constructive education that has seldom, if ever, been equaled in the annals of high school work.”
By 1924, Washington High School was becoming overcrowded. Grant School, built on the west side of the Cedar River in 1915 as a vocational high school, was converted to a regular high school. All high school students on the west side began attending Grant instead of attending Washington High School.
In the years between 1922 and 1925, four junior high schools were built in Cedar Rapids. By the 1930’s, the Washington High School structure was deteriorating, and additions were constructed at the four junior highs. In 1935, Washington High School was closed for good. The four junior highs became six-year junior/senior high schools. Students in grades seven through twelve on the east side attended McKinley or Franklin; their counterparts on the west side attended Wilson or Roosevelt.
Washington High School was demolished in 1946 after failed attempts to preserve it as a city monument. In 1957, the new Washington High opened at Forest Drive and Cottage Grove Avenue, S.E.
Coach Novak's Tigers
Coach Leo V. Novak’s teams achieved extraordinary successes in basketball, track, and football. Coach Novak is said to have developed more national champions than any other prep coach in the country. Washington athletes were also believed to have held more national prep records than any other high school in America.
In basketball, Novak’s Tigers won several state championships in the 1920’s and a national championship at the Stagg Interscholastic Tournament in Chicago in 1921. The Tigers also won the Mid-Western Tournament at the University of Wisconsin competing against teams from ten states.
Novak’s track teams won the State High School Interscholastic Meet five years. They also won the Stagg National Meet at the University of Chicago two years. Those Chicago victories were considered national team championships. His track athletes established numerous event records at Pennsylvania, Duke, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, and Illinois interscholastic meets.
In an almost unbelievable string of accomplishments in the mid-1920’s, Tiger track athletes established six national records: quarter-mile relay, three-quarter mile relay, mile relay, 120 yard high hurdles, 220 yard low hurdles, and the 440 yard dash. The quarter-mile relay team of Potts, Loftus, Knapp, and Cuhel also established a world record at the University of Wisconsin on May 3, 1924, with a time of 44.8 seconds.
The Tigers’ football record was also amazing. During the six seasons between 1919 and 1924, the Tigers won 54 games, lost two, and tied two. In 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1924 they were undisputed champions of Iowa. The only loss in 1922 was to Waite High School in Toledo, Ohio.
In 1923, Cedar Rapids Washington and Scott High from Toledo, Ohio, both claimed mythical national championships. To settle the matter, the Tigers traveled to Toledo for a post-Thanksgiving clash with Scott and lost 24-21.
In 1924, Washington won “the national high school championship.” The Tigers, after again winning the state title, squeaked out a 6-0 victory over Du Pont High of Louisville, Kentucky. On Thanksgiving Day, 1924, the Tigers again headed east to meet Harrisburg Technical High School for the national crown. Washington won the title game, 9-0.
The Third and Present Washington High School
September 3, 1957, was the first day of school at new Washington. Principal Fred J. Kluss began the day with an announcement over the intercom, “Here we are, and here we go!” Jefferson High School opened the same year on Cedar Rapids’ west side.
Eastside students had previously attended McKinley and Franklin for grades 7-12. Washington began with grades 10-12 and did not become a four-year high school until 1987.
During the 1956-57 school year, Franklin and McKinley students voted on colors for the new high school and selected royal blue and red. They also picked the “Warrior” to be Washington’s mascot.
Richard DuBois, the new high school’s first choral director, wrote the “Washington Alma Mater” during the 1957-58 school year. The next year, students voted to adopt the “Warrior Fight Song,” also written by DuBois, as Washington’s official fight song.
In the 1960s, John Quinn, the school’s second vocal director, wrote the lyrics to the “Warrior Chant” and adapted the music from a California school. It soon became a tradition to sing the “Washington Alma Mater” and “Warrior Loyalty Chant” at each graduation ceremony. Both are also sung at formal assemblies throughout the school year.
The Monument was chosen for the name of the school yearbook, and [http://crwash.org/surveyor/ The Surveyor] waspicked as the name for the school newspaper. The Surveyor, of course,referred to George Washington’s early career as a surveyor, and The Monument was a reference to the Washington Monument in the nation’s capitol. Both names have been used from Washington’s first year.
In 1958, Washington students voted on a name for the school’s variety show and chose MuDaCo to represent music, dance, and comedy. MuDaCo has been presented each spring since 1959.
The first Commencement Exercises for the new school were held on June 6, 1958, at Kingston Stadium. There were 419 in the first graduating class. Commencement was held at Kingston Stadium for 21 years. Beginning with the Class of 1979, Commencement moved to the U.S. Cellular Center where it is still held.
In 1961, there were only two electric typewriters in the typing classroom. In 1980, the first computer appeared at Washington High School. The class gift from the Class of 1961 was a black and white television set. Donald Hugh, Chairperson of the Mathematics Department and the first National Honor Society Advisor, was the last member of the original 1957 faculty to leave when he retired in 1988.
In 1961, 17,625 square feet of classroom space were added to the south end of the building–12 classrooms. In 1971, the area under the library was enclosed to provide new office space for the counselors. In 1990, a new gymnasium was built to accommodate the increase in women’s sports and the ninth grade athletic program.
In 2003, a large wing of six classrooms and six science laboratories was added to the southwest corner of the building. At the same time, a new band room was completed and the entire original music area was remodeled to house the growing vocal and string orchestra programs.
The first principal, Fred J. Kluss, had been principal at Roosevelt before coming to Washington in 1957. Kluss served at Wash only two years before his retirement in 1959, but his fondness for the school lasted far longer. He personally planted the ivy that still grows on several of the school’s walls because he wanted a Harvard-like appearance to the school. He lived into his 90s and, even in his later years, visited the school to check on the ivy.
Kluss was succeeded as principal by Don Birdsell who served for three years. R.O. Fitzsimmons became Washington’s principal in 1962 and held the position for 4 ½ years before leaving to become the first principal of the new John F. Kennedy High School. Donald G. Nau took over as Washington principal in the middle of the 1966-67 school year. Nau guided the school for 14 ½ years. Dr. Ralph Plagman has been principal at Washington High School since 1981.
The three Washington High Schools have produced some remarkable alums. Several of the school’s best-known graduates include:
Adrian Arringtonis a wide receiver for the University of Michigan.
*Merlin Aylesworth became president of the National Broadcasting Company (N.B.C.) in 1926, and later he was publisher of the New York World Telegram. Earlier he had been managing director of the National Electric Light Association (1919-1926).
*Ella Clancy was a World War I welfare worker and author of several children’s history books.
Arthur A. Collins, while still a 15-year-old student at Washington High School, gained fame when he used a radio he built to make contact with the MacMillan expedition in Greenland. Later he was first to make radio contact with Admiral Byrd at the South Pole. In 1933, he started Collins Radio Companyand was president of the company for 40 years. He personally held 16 patents.
Marvin Cone(Class of 1910) became a prominent American painter and long-time Coe art professor. Cone was a close friend of Grant Wood, and together they created the Stone City Art Colonythat assembled a group of regionalist painters.
*Louise Crawford became a professor of music at
Coe Collegeand was widely recognized for her music compositions.
Frank Cuhel(Class of 1924) went on to become a track star at the University of Iowa. He was indoor Big Ten champion in the 10-yard high hurdles in 1928 and a member of the Big Ten championship mile relay teams in 1927 and 1928. In the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, he won the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles. Cuhel later became a journalist for the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Tim DeBoomTwo time winner of the Ironman Triathlonin 2001 and 2002.
Paul Engle, a Rhodes Scholar and author of eight books of poems, became a leading American poet. Engle taught in the renowned University of IowaWriters’ Workshop and established the International Writing Program. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1976.
Kent FergusonCompeted in the 1992 Summer Olympicsand finished fifth place in the Men's 3m Springboard event.
*Cyril Kegler (Class of 1921) was president of the Bishop-Stoddard Cafeteria Company from 1929 until his death in 1975. He was the first Iowan to be inducted into American Restaurant Magazine’s “Hall of Fame.”
*Russell Knapp (Class of 1926) was an outstanding Washington High School athlete who became a prominent Iowa businessman. Knapp founded Securities Corporation of Iowa. In 1994, he was the 16th ranking tennis player in the U.S.A. for 85-89 year-olds.
Aaron ParryProminent Executive Producer. Has worked on movies such as Barnyard, Fat Albert, Scooby Doo, Osmosis Jonesand the television show SpongeBob Squarepants.
*Ron Pexa, All-State and All-American basketball player and college basketball referee. He played college basketball at the
University of Missourifor Hall of Fame Coach Norm Stewart. He was a men's NCAA Division I basketball referee in The Missouri Valley, Big Eight and Big Ten Conferences.
James A. Reedserved as mayor of Kansas Cityfrom 1900-1904. He was a member of the U.S. Senate from his first election as a Missouri Democrat in 1911 until 1929.
Beardsley Rumlearned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and later served as Dean of the University of ChicagoSocial Science Department. His illustrious career included the chairmanship of R. H. Macy and Company (1941-47), the chairmanship of the New York Federal Reserve Board during World War II, a stint as advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, and a prominent role in establishing the International Monetary Fund. He is credited as devising the federal tax withholding system (1943).
Dieter SchulteWashington foreign exchange student in 1958. The youngest member ever elected into the German government.
William Shirer, a Washington High School graduate, became one of America’s foremost war correspondents. He was recruited to report from Berlinfor C.B.S. News before and during World War II. Shirer, who worked closely with Edward R. Murrow at C.B.S., also became a well-known author. His books included The Rise and Fall of the Third Reichand Berlin Diary.
*Robert Stewart joined Theodore Roosevelt’s
Rough Ridersafter graduating from Washington, served in the South Dakota Senate (1893-1903), and became chairman of the Board of Directors of Standard Oil of Indiana(1918-1929).
*Melvina M. Svec, a long-time educator, began her career in a one-room school in newly-homesteaded South Dakota and taught in various Cedar Rapids schools. She studied her specialty of geography throughout the United States and England, and became a professor at
State University of New York at Oswego. In 1962, the National Council for Geographic Education awarded her its Distinguished Service Award.
Carl Van Vechten(Class of 1898) graduated from the University of Chicagoand became an internationally known writer, artist, critic, and photographer. His interest in African American culture earned him the reputation as “white America’s guide to Harlem.” A pal of Eugene O’Neil, George Gershwin, and Paul Robeson, Van Vechten created a photographic chronicle of his era, a collection of more than 15,000 photographs, many of them portraits.
Grant Wood(Class of 1910) painted American Gothic, America’s best known and most recognized painting, in 1931. That work catapulted Wood to national prominence. Earlier, Wood taught in Cedar Rapids schools and studied painting in Parisin the 1920’s. Later, he was an art professor at the University of Iowa.
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