This weekend, John F. Hodge High School graduates will come together to celebrate the school's 110th year with an All-School Reunion.
This weekend, John F. Hodge High School graduates will come together to celebrate the school’s 110th year with an All-School Reunion.
Graduates from numerous generations will meet this Saturday, July 5, for an all-day event, with individual class meetings, food vendors from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the downtown plaza and a dance with live music from 7:30-11 p.m.
Registration is from 9 a.m. until noon at the high school commons. Those attending the dance should bring their own refreshments.
For more information, visit http://stjschools.org/
The following is a piece submitted by Sharon Wilson titled, “St. James Schools: Through the Years,” which highlights the evolution of the St. James public school system.
“St. James Schools: Through the Years”
1859 A group of hardy settlers, who had made their homes near the present site of St. James, decided to unite as a town. Plans were made, a town plot laid out, and a name for the settlement chosen. It was to be called Scioto, an Indian name meaning Big Prairie.
1860 It was decided to rename the town in honor of Thomas James, who founded the Maramec Iron Works on August 8, 1826. However it was discovered that there was already a town named Jamestown in Missouri so St. was added to the name, thus making it St. James.
1870 After ten years of rapid growth, St. James was legally incorporated as a town by the State of Missouri. The enumeration of the St. James School District listed 215 white children and 23 African American children, however enrollment was only 139 white children and 23 African American children. The term of school was 6 months and the average daily attendance 98. There was one white teacher and one African American teacher.
1885 Apparently, some of the citizens migrated on west because the enrollment dropped to 119, out of 180 children enumerated. The average attendance was 81.
1889 School was held in a two room brick building valued at $2000 (building still stands at the eastern end of Hardy Street). There were two teachers, with the lower four grades being downstairs in one room, and the upper four grades upstairs.
1892 A severe windstorm on June 26, 1892 damaged the school to a great extent. A special bond election to repair the school failed by a vote of 43-32. In desperation, the School Board decided to go ahead and repair the building, paying the bills as they could to the local merchants and workers, who were willing to wait for their money.
1898 The citizens decided it was time for an upgrade of the school system so the site for a new school was selected. It was known as the Renick Property (Old Grade School).
1899 Voters approved $5000 in bonds for the construction of the new school. This was a large burden for the citizens as the economy was very poor at this time. The contract was let for $4865.65 to Wm. Wallace for the new school. The building was to be two stories with two rooms down and two up.
1900 School opened in the new building with four teachers on March 5. John F. Hodge entered the system as principal.
1902 Andy Smith was hired as the first janitor at a salary of $10 per month. He retained this job until 1935, retiring after 33 years.
1903 First year of high school was offered and subjects included Algebra, Rhetoric, Ancient History and Latin. The St. James Normal School was organized and each summer short terms of preparatory work for teachers were given. It continued until 1926 when Missouri School of Mines offered a summer school.
1904 The second year of High School classes were added to the curriculum. Since most high schools of this time only offered two years advanced work above the “common learnings”, this class was permitted to graduate in the spring of 1905.
1905 Bonds were voted for $3000 to build an addition to the school. It was to be for two rooms and the contract was for $2995.
1906 The building was completed and a third year of high school was offered.
1908 To ward off the severe winters and lessen the work of caring for all of the stoves, a central heating system was installed. This was a welcome addition as some previous years had only been able to be in session for three months due to the severe cold.
1910 The fourth year of high school was offered this year.
1911 Bonds were again voted to build another two room addition, making four rooms downstairs and four upstairs. The cost was $2393.64
1915 The high school became fully accredited by the State Department of Education.
1918 The high school graduation class this year numbered 10.
1919 This graduation class was the first to wear caps and gown for the ceremony.
1920 The school building became overcrowded so the adjoining Furling property was purchased and used for the primary class.
1922 Hope Morton was hired as the first basketball coach. Bonds were voted in the amount of $40,000 to build a new high school. The land purchased was bound by Hardy, Meramec, Scioto and Parker Street.
1923 A contract for $30,953 for the new school was awarded.
1924 The new high school was finished and on Feb. 11, 1924, the high school students marched by twos from the grade school to take possession of the new building. Among the students marching were L.J. Donati, future superintendent.
1925 On Sept. 23, the St. James Schools were organized as a Consolidated School District #1 , Phelps County Mo.
1926 In order to keep up with the times a modern sewage system was installed the grade school.
1929 The first band teacher, Paul Fite, was hired. Both the boys and girls basketball teams took 1st place in the South Central District Tournament. The boys team, under the leadership of Coach Hope Morton, advanced to the State Tournament in Kansas City but lost in the finals to the Kansas City team. At this time there were no divisions based on school size.
1931 Track was initiated as a school sport.
1932 This year softball became part of the sport program.
1934 The boys basketball team won 3rd place in the state tournament and was coached by Ed Potter.
1935 Due to a large enrollment, the high school soon became crowded but because of the depression the conditions had to be endured for a few years. Transportation of students began in the mid 1930’s with small windowless vans used at first but as enrollment increased regular buses came into use.
1937 Voters approved bonds totally $24,00 to build an addition to the high school which would include 8 classrooms and a gym. A Federal Grant under The Works Progress Administration enabled the building to be built at a cost of $80,000.
1938 Lucy Wortham James, a great benefactress of our schools and town, passed away in New York. The band, under the direction of Ray Dull, received a superior rating at state contest.
1939 Track had to be discontinued because of the new addition. The graduating class from this year was the last to graduate from the old gym. It was decided to name the high school “John F. Hodge High School” in honor of Superintendent Hodge who was a part of the school system from 1902-1945. Oratory was popular at this time.
1940 With the completion of the new addition, this was the first class to graduate from the new gym (junior high gym). Many music honors were received by students this year.
1941 The Dec. 7th attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese was the beginning of the U. S. involvement in World War II.
1942-1946 Many young men had their education interrupted by the war. Enlistments, food and gas rationing, all had an effect on the school system. 1947 The James Foundation and the Lions Club made donations of playground equipment to the school.
1948 A Vocational Home Economics teacher was hired this year, Mrs. Jean Beaver. The boys basketball team took 2nd place in the state tournament under Coach Bob Breuer.
1949 The girls softball team took first in the Ozark Central League.
1950 Ford Hughes was hired as the first Vocational Agriculture teacher.
1951 Adult classes in agriculture were started.
1952 Enrollment this year was 285 students in the grade school and 250 in the high school.
1957 The James Foundation presented land on which to build a new elementary school. The reorganization of rural school districts made it necessary to enlarge our school system.
1958 Bonds totaling $222,000 were voted on for the construction of a new grade school. The TenEyck house was purchased for use as the first kindergarten. James Dillon broke the school record by scoring 31 points in one basketball game.
1961 The new elementary school opened under the name of Lucy Wortham James Elementary. The Old Grade School was remodeled for industrial arts and art classes.
1962 Earl Strebeckk was hired as the first full time art teacher.
1963 An addition of more elementary classrooms was started this year.
1965 The new position of junior high principal was created with Gordon Bushie moving into that position from the classroom. Mildred Bohon came into the system in 1930 but this year filled the role of first full time librarian. The band raised funds to travel to New York and perform at the NY World’s Fair.
1966 Marie Happel, who was currently working for the school system, became the first counselor.
1967 The James House was rented for kindergarten classes. 1968 Bonds were voted for $388,000 to build a new gym, stage and music room. Football was initiated as a sport this year. Connie Copely was hired as the first French teacher.
1969 The new gym was dedicated and named in honor of Louis J. Donati, Superintendent from 1945 – 1977. Mr. Donati began his career as a teacher in 1931. The trophy case was named in honor of Michael R. “Dick” Wilson, a 1966 graduate, who was killed in Vietnam in 1968. Due to crowded conditions, a contract was let for $60,000 to build 6 junior high classrooms.
1970 This was the last class to have eighth grade graduation.
1972 A new home economics classroom and offices were added to the high school at a cost of $190,000.
1975 The Old Grade School building was remodeled for use as a kindergarten. The boys basketball team took 1st in the State A Tournament under the leadership of Grant Crow. 1976 The Old Grade School was remodeled for first grade classes.
1977 Louis J. Donati retired as superintendent after 46 years of service to the St. James Schools. Jim Braden became the 3rd superintendent.
1981 Margaret Wilson became the first woman to be elected to the School Board. Ron Fitch was hired as superintendent.
1983 A new football facility was built with funds raised in the community by “Project 1000” which took pledges for 1000 stadium seats at $60 apiece to raise the $60,000 needed. The Old Grade School was leased to the city with a life time lease. The city then leased it to the St. James Historical Preservation Society.
1984 The high school industrial arts area was remodeled to make room for a “Commons” where a new hot lunch program began for junior and senior high school students.
1985 A $550,000 bond issue passed by a 90% voter approval provided funds for construction of special education rooms, kindergarten and 5th and 6th grade classrooms, and a science lab and classroom at the high school.
1987 St. James Schools qualified as AAA with the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education. An outdoor classroom was built adjacent to the elementary school and named in memory of Margaret Cruts, a longtime kindergarten teacher.
1988 Two more classrooms were added to the elementary school.
1989 A new 375 meter track was built due to the generosity of the local citizens. The PTA donated $5000 to start the project. A new Vo-Ag building project was started, due to be finished in time for school in the fall.
1990 A 25 member committee of school personnel and community members began development of a School Improvement Plan for the future of the school district. The Booster Club built a new concession stand at the football field. School began a breakfast program for elementary and secondary students. 1991 Jim Porter was hired as Superintendent.
1992 Voters passed a bond issue for construction and renovations at the elementary and high school.
1993 Principal Dennis Wilson welcomed Commissioner of Education, Robert Bartman, as he visited St. James to observe the high school’s innovative new 10-block schedule.
1994-1995 John F. Hodge High School was one of 38 schools in the state to receive “A+School” grant. JFHHS was named a Missouri Gold Star School. The high school established a computer lab.
1995-1996 Technology expanded with computers going online with the Internet.
1996-1997 The high school received a grant from Falcon Cable to establish a public access TV studio. Because of overcrowding, the district rented space from the Episcopal Church and brought in modular classrooms. Tiger Tracks yearbook was computerized and published in color.
1997-1998 JFHHS entered an agreement with Missouri Baptist College to establish dual enrollment classes. An assistant high school principal position was added. Tiger baseball won district for the first time since 1968. Angie Smith went to State in the 300 meter hurdles.
1998-1999 The high school had over 100 computers in 6 labs. An Alternative School was started in a building in downtown St. James. The Vo-Ag program added a second teacher and built a new greenhouse. ACT scores improved for the 5th consecutive year.