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History of North High School
A history of Kansas, written in steel and stone, is a phrase that was used to describe Wichita High School North when the building was first completed in 1929. However the history of North truly had its origin many years before the land was purchased and the building construction began in 1928. The Indian theme used throughout the design of the building is more than a matter of choices - the Indian was responsible, indirectly, for the founding of North High School.
In the 1860's the Wichita Indians moved here from Oklahoma to escape persecution for their support of the Union cause in the Civil War. They settled near the junction of the Big and little Arkansas Rivers in what is now the Riverside area. In 1867 the United States government sent Company 'A' of the 10th Division to the forks of the Arkansas to protect the incoming cattle drivers from the Indians. After the arrival of the Army troops, white settlers came to the Area and a small settlement began to develop. The school had fourteen students enrolled and was located at Twelfth and Jackson Streets. North High School is located on the site.
By 1929, the population of Wichita was so great that the only high school (East, built in 1922) could no longer accommodate the city's high school students. Plans for a new high school were begun. A fifteen-acre land site was purchased at Twelfth and Jackson Streets and three architectural styles, Romanesque, Gothic, and Modern American, were presented to the Board of Education - the Modern American style was selected for the new school.
Bruce Moore, an artist who graduated from East High School, designed the decorative portions of the building's exterior. Using his knowledge of the site's history, Mr. Moore used a Pioneer\Native American theme for his design. He constructed the original small-scale figures of plaster. Full-sized figures were then made and arranged to tell the story of pioneer days; the Indian chief, scout, hunter and teepee represent the Indians' story; the buffalo, eagle, plowman, sunflower, and state seal symbolize the early pioneers.
North is one of the few high schools in the United States that teaches canoeing in the physical education class. During the spring, the students hold an annual water festival during which they demonstrate skills learned in P.E. classes. The festival has been given nationwide publicity in several magazine articles.
Unique landmarks in close proximity to North are Meade Island and the Minisa Bridge. In 1928, the Wichita Indians built a ceremonial lodge on the north end of Meade Island in the middle of the Arkansas River. The lodge was fashioned after Father Juan Padilla's church, the first church in America. When the city decided to build a new bridge across the river, Mrs. Ethel Parker, English teacher at North, suggested to the city planners that the construction incorporate a design similar to that of North High School. Upon completion, the bridge was named "Minisa" which means "Red Water at Sunset"
When North opened in 1929, it had an enrollment of 800 students and forty faculty members. Mr. Grover Dotzour was the first principal at North. North has had twelve principals:
Mr. Grover Dotzour 1929-33 ?1937-41
Mr. L. W. Brooks 1933-37
Mr. O. E. Bonecutter 1941-45
Mr. C. E. Strange 1945-68
Dr. John Gasper 1968-77
Dr. Paul Longhofer 1977-84
Dr. Robert Anderson 1984-86
Dr. Cliff Muci 1986-88
Mr. Mel Johnson 1988-90
Dr. Ralph Teran 1990-98
Mr. Roel Quintanilla 1998-2003
Ms. Denise Wren 2003-2006
Mr. Sherman Padgett 2006-
Increases in enrollment at North necessitated a number of additions to the building: auto mechanics shop (1950), girl's gymnasium (1951), and, in the fall of 195,7 the three-story extension on the south wing. During this time, it was also necessary to use annex buildings to accommodate classes. By 1972, thirteen annexes were in use. In 1975, North was allocated 1.7 million dollars from a bond issue. The funds were used to add a library, classrooms, provide extensive renovations to science classrooms, offices, and the woodworking room, add an extension to the small gymnasium, improve both the boys and girls physical education. dressing rooms and shower areas, and a number of other projects in rooms adjacent to the new or remodeled facilities. The improvements and/or additions made it possible to remove all but three annex buildings.
Acquisition of land across from the school in 1977, 1980, and 1982 enabled the school district to provide ample student parking. Several senior classes have donated funds each year to be used to purchase a marquee sign for the student parking lot. The marquee is used to highlight student activities and provide recognition for worthy accomplishments of students. During the summer of 1988, the cafeteria was relocated to the first floor and classrooms were constructed in the former cafeteria. The change was made to make additional classrooms available to accommodate ninth grade students who started high school as a part of the restructuring plan.
In addition to the unusual architecture and beautiful landscaping, a loyalty to traditions makes students proud to say they attended North High School. The history of North is important to the students of today because in that history students find the example of the past to make plans and preparations for the future.