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Historical Highlights of the KNHS Class of 1956

Dorothy Lynde Grove

The reunion committee started talking about some of the things our class was the first and/or last to experience which inspired me to search my yearbooks, old newspapers, and files to compile a bit of our history. Mary Brown Dear supplied a wealth of information and several others contributed also. Our class witnessed the reactivation of Whiteman Air Force Base, reorganization, and desegregation - all of which helped bring unprecedented growth to the Knob Noster schools. Families of both Air Force personnel and civilian employees began moving in (and out) of our district. Our senior year was the first time married girls were allowed to attend high school (primarily because so many of the airmen brought their young wives with them who wanted to finish school). Some of the locals took advantage of the new ruling, and nearly one third of our class were married before graduation.

The class of 1956 was the last group to graduate from Knob Noster High School with nearly a third of its members who were graduates of the old country school districts. Another third were from Knob Noster elementary; over one third were affiliated with the base. During our eighth grade year, Knob Noster and 16 rural school district residents voted in November 1951 to reorganize as one district (R-VIII). The country schools finished out their year in normal fashion with an 8-month school year and eighth grade county graduation ceremonies in Warrensburg on April 25. The rural graduates were welcomed into the Knob Noster district and received this typed post card (mailed for 2 cents) dated Sunday, May 11, 1952: “We should be pleased very much to have you take part in our elementary graduating exercises, Wednesday evening (probably May 14), 8:00 p.m. by marching on the stage with our students and be recognized as a part of this year’s class in our Reorganized District. Advance preparation will not be necessary. We want you to take part in our picnic on Friday in the State Park, also. Supt. A. C. Teague”

Country school students were often valedictorians and salutatorians of KNHS before and after reorganization until the supply ended. Most in this list were products of rural schools:  1952 valedictorian, Mardel Emig (no salutatorian named); ‘53 val. Dorothy Lane, sal. Mary Ann McCannon; ‘54 val. Rose Evelyn Parrott, sal. Ruby Poese; ‘55 val. Lynnel Blaylock, sal. Joyce Lane (Larry Jageman had the highest grade average but was not eligible because he only attended Knob Noster his senior year); ‘56 val. Dorothy Lynde, sal. Ann Emig.

Thirteen of our 26 freshman classmates finished the eighth grade at Knob Noster elementary (according to1952 and 1953 yearbooks): Mary Brown, Mary Jo Chick, Denny Cockrum, Betty Jean Crowley, Charles Elwell, Marvin Jenkins, Roy Moore, Lilly Parker, Yvonne Seley, Dean Shafer, Carl Skidmore, Lee Stevens, and Dolores Chick. Lee Stevens and Dolores Chick attended Knob Noster all 12 consecutive years with the class of 1956.

The other 13 were either from country schools or new students:  Shirley Duffer, Shirley Benz, and Beulah Sammons (Brushville), Buddy Elsea, Melvin Collett, and Juanita Markham (Sunnyside), Ann Emig and Jerry Parrott  (Hepsidam), Virginia Kindle (Prairie Home), Dorothy Lynde and Gwen Lee (Brushy), David Viles (Brinktown, MO), Lorene Roberson (who moved away our freshman year). Some of the 26 students had attended both town and country schools.

During our freshman year Edmond Salmon joined our class (as reported in the March 20, 1953, KNOB NEWS), and Virginia Kindle moved to Concordia (KNOB NEWS March 6, 1953). Bill Brant (Warrensburg Public Schools) joined us the last three weeks of our freshman year. Anne Bowland, Camdenton, and Eddie Thompson joined us as sophomores; Charles Shearon moved to Macon, MO (November 20, 1953 issue). New juniors introduced in the KNOB NEWS included Mary White and Kathy Duniho (September 17, 1954); Pat Rhodes and Sandy Grayson (November 16, 1954). Richard Thomas is also pictured in the yearbook as a junior but moved in April. These three new seniors were listed the KNOB NEWS (September 16, 1955): Mitchalene Sunderland, Knob Noster; Glenda Coons, Warrensburg; Nancy Maudlin, Kansas City, Kansas. The same article also interviewed our newly integrated students:  juniors, Milton Bratton and Wayne Bass; and sophomore, Joyce Bratton.

The KNOB NEWS welcomed seniors Rosemary Leary, Florida, our first married student, (October 28, 1955) and Barbara Ann Williams, Laredo, MO (January 27, 1956). At semester Shelba Pace Marshall joined our class to finish her education. She was probably the first mother to graduate from Knob Noster, having left school to marry Charles Marshall the previous year. (In the May 9, 1956, KNOB NEWS article on senior plans, Shelba’s were to “keep house and take care of my daughter.”) Bobby Austin attended Knob Noster elementary and later joined our class but did not graduate with us. (Eddie Thompson remembers that he, Bobby, and J.J. Lyle joined the Navy at the same time.)

A. C. Teague was superintendent and Richard Twyman, high school principal and shop teacher our first two years; James Jageman was superintendent our last two years and Howard Martin, principal and math teacher. The school year was divided into six grading periods of six weeks each. There were four bus drivers and three cooks our first two years, increasing to six bus drivers and four cooks the last two.

DISTRICT NEWS

As mentioned earlier, voters in the Knob Noster and area rural school districts voted to approve reorganization into one district (R-VIII) in November 1951 during our eighth grade year. On November 30, my father, Malvern Lynde, was elected to the new Knob Noster School Board (serving the first 14 as president). The board began planning for the future education of all their students. The country schools finished the 1951-52 school year with few visible changes. Knob Noster did not have room for all the new students in town, so (beginning in 1952-53) they closed some country schools and bussed the students to eight (or nine) rural centers operated for several years as part of the R-VIII system (each serving grades 1-8):  Brushville-Mrs. Addie Zink, 9 students; Valley City-Mrs. Thelma Blaylock, 9; Maple Grove-Mrs. Itylene Parrott, 13; Hepsidam-Mrs. Bessie Gottschalk, 13; Sunnyside-Mrs. Melvin Long, 22; Montserrat-Laura Taylor, 19; Prairie Home-Miss Agnes Hardy, 28; and Lowland- Nellie Mae Tebbenkamp, 19. All were pictured in the 1953 yearbook along with the Knob Noster classes. Those teachers were now employees of the Knob Noster district, and many later taught in town. For example, Mrs. Gottschalk taught home ec and science classes and sponsored pep squad our sophomore year which indicates that Hepsidam may have been closed that year or another teacher transferred.

According to the 1953 yearbook, Knob Noster elementary was growing (no doubt faster than expected) but still had combined classes at the beginning of the 1952-53 year. Grades 1-2 (Miss Wright) had 31 students; 3-4 (Mrs. Catherine Tyler) had 49 students; 5-6 (Mrs. Roberta Jarolim) 28; 7-8 (Mrs. Effie Makeever) 26. No wonder the district separated the grades and opened four new classrooms (2nd and 6th in the RLDS Church; 7th and 8th in American Legion Building) early the second semester of 1953 (our freshman year). They closed at least one country school (Brushville), bringing its students and teacher, Mrs. Zink, to town. About that time Knob Noster had 174 elementary students in town and another 124 in the rural centers. The March KNOB NEWS gave second semester 1953 enrollments listed below (with some 1954-55 figures shown in parentheses): 1st 22 (30 in 54-55); 2nd 17 (28); 3rd 27; 4th 23 (31), 5th (24), 6th (21), 7th ?, 8th 22 (21). Even a first grader recognized the reality of the growing enrollment as related in their class news (April 2, 1953, KNOB NEWS): Our enrollment is increasing. We now have 24 in our room. We are getting used to it. The other day someone knocked at the door. Bobby looked up very seriously and said, “Mrs. Mullis, it’s probably a new pupil.”

Soon after reorganization, the school board began the long process of planning for the construction of a new elementary building. An article in the 11/53 KNOB NEWS stated that the proposed $150,000 local bond and $45,000 from the state would provide for an 8-classroom building (plus a multipurpose room and lunchroom). They had also applied for federal funds and were awaiting approval. In December 1953 it was announced that federal funds of $71,500 had been approved (enabling the district to double the number of classrooms to 16). Contracts for the new elementary building were issued the next month, January 1954 (our sophomore year); the building was completed in January 1955 (our junior year). Knob Noster finally had room for all its students (for a little while, at least). By the second semester of 1956, however, the 3rd and 4th grades each were up to 37 students. (The state’s standard class unit was 30 students.)

The May 9, 1956, KNOB NEWS lists these 16 elementary teachers hired for the 56-57 school year (some were already teaching in town or in the rural centers): Agnes Hardy, Virginia Campbell, Oma McKeehan, Catherine Tyler, Thelma Blaylock, Addie Zink, Laura Taylor, Vivian Norman, Elaine Breon, May Bartlett, Itylene Parrott, Margaret Gregory, Mary Rhinehart, Pearl Swope, Elizabeth Peterman, and Eileen Kendrick. (Barbara Eichholz and Frances Wendt had resigned earlier.) The district continued to grow rapidly. The government built a new elementary school at Whiteman AFB, but the Knob Noster district operated it. The district built a new high school in the early 1960's, and accumulated a sizeable reserve - all during my father’s 14 years as board president. The district later rebuilt the middle school (the old high school) after the March 1968  fire and made several other needed additions to existing buildings. My sister, Nancy Lynde, graduated in 1971 with a class of 80 and remembers several previous graduating classes with over 100 students. What tremendous growth from our 1956 class of 24 graduates!

Keeping with their practice of being open about the district’s finances, the school board and administration published many informative articles in the school newspaper. The 1953-54 school budget was printed in the May 13, 1953, issue of the KNOB NEWS showing a total estimated income of $138,460 (including $37,800 from local taxes, $40,000 from the state, and $52,000 balance on hand) and $87,865 disbursements (leaving a balance of $50,585). It’s interesting to note that salaries for about 20 total teachers were $55,765 (evidently including all elementary teachers in town and in the rural centers, high school teachers, and administrators); superintendent’s travel expense $300; office secretary’s salary $1,100; salaries of 4 bus drivers $4,500 and 2 janitors $3,300; 3 new buses $3,600; free textbooks $1,600; water $350; electricity $600; insurance on  buildings, etc. $1,400; insurance on buses $600.

Nothing was budgeted for the relatively new hot lunch program, but it was operational our freshman year (perhaps it was self-supporting). The eighth graders mentioned being bussed to the lunchroom every day as were the other three grades that were moved downtown. Three cooks were pictured in our 1953 KNOBNA yearbook. The February 10, 1956, KNOB NEWS reported:  “The lunchroom serves an average of 400 students daily; students pay 25 cents and teachers, 30 cents. Chocolate milk costs 3 cents extra.”

There was a kindergarten in Knob Noster because the May 10, 1954, KNOB NEWS reported that Mrs. Holt and the kindergarten students visited the first grade.

The Knob Noster School District currently serves over 1,600 students and has built a highly rated  educational program, respected throughout the state. It continues to maintain an enviable financial reserve.

(Information from school newspapers, yearbooks, local newspapers, DESE, KN school board minutes, etc.)

NOTES FROM THE SCHOOL PAPER - KNOB NEWS
Compiled by Dorothy Lynde Grove

CLASS OFFICERS:
Freshman-President, Jerry Parrott; Vice President, Dean Shafer; Secretary, Dorothy Lynde; Treasurer, Shirley Duffer; Student Council, Virginia Kindle and Roy Moore.
Sophomore-President, Shirley Benz; Vice President, Bill Brant; Secretary, Ann Emig; Treasurer, Juanita Markham; Sargeant-at-arms, Denny Cockrum; Student Council, Jo Chick and Dean Shafer.
Junior-President, Shirley Duffer; Vice President, Bobby Austin; Secretary, Mary White; Treasurer, Mary Brown; Student Council, Dorothy Lynde and Bobby Austin.
Senior-President, Dorothy Lynde; Vice President, Shirley Benz; Secretary, Bill Brant; Treasurer, Ann Emig; Student Council, Anne Bowland and Lee Stevens.

SOPHOMORE NEWS  Charles Elwell, handsome 6 footer from the sophomore class, was voted unanimously as delegate to the Men’s Beauty Contest. I don’t think any of the others have a chance against our beauty. He has it won. (By Lee W. Stevens)

GOSSIP  What goes on in Biology class? Note writing, magazine reading, talking about everything but the lesson, flirting, never studying, teacher talking but no one listening. The moral of this is that you should be in Biology class.

KNOB NEWS March 26, 1954
ANNUAL IS FINISHED: The last pages of the 1954 annual were mailed to the publisher the first of March (total 36 pages; arrive May 1; will sell for $2.)  KNOB NEWS March 3, 1954

JUNIOR NEWS  The junior class elected Dean Shafer for the candidate in the Annual Beauty Contest, sponsored by the 4-H.

SENIOR NEWS  Mrs. Eunice Lilly started the 1955 school year as commerce teacher. Sometime in October or November, Mrs. Hale returned (she is mentioned in the Nov. 11, 1955, KNOB NEWS with the annual staff). She tested the shorthand class, found that we knew very little, and had to start us all over again.

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS The Commerce Department is very proud of the new electric typewriter which the school has recently purchased. This typewriter will be used for instruction in the typing class. Any student who is taking or has had typing will be given an opportunity to do practice work on this machine. (3/9/1956) (Does anyone remember typing on this wonderful typewriter? I don’t.)

The seniors are looking forward with anticipation to May 11 and 12, for those are the dates of the senior trip to Lone Oak Resort. Approximately 16 of the 24 seniors are planning on taking the trip, and they will be accompanied by their sponsors, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Hale; the class mothers, Mrs. Lynde and Mrs. Janney; and the bus driver. (One classmate mentioned that we were the last class to have an overnight senior trip. Anyone else remember that?)

Graduation gets nearer with every passing day, and soon the school year will be gone and so will we (from KNHS, that is). We appreciate the opportunities we have been offered here in high school, even if some of us do not realize it now.  (KNOB NEWS May 9, 1956)

END-OF-COLUMN FILLERS from the KNOB NEWS

THIEF: A person who finds something before it gets lost.

Do you know what one hair said to another? No. It takes two to tangle.