Establishing Traditions

Field Day, 1944
Field Day, 1944

The 1940s were an important time for art and music activities under the direction of Violette H. Williams. Annual carnivals and operettas were given by the music department to raise money to buy pictures for the school. Students also painted a mural depicting the history of art and music, which was written up in an educational magazine.

Field Day was also a big tradition. In 1946, the day long event included a parade with the school band, athletic events and a picnic supper on the hill for students, parents and teachers. In 1947 a softball game between 8th grade boys and their fathers was added to the list of events.

Hobo Day was also an eagerly awaited spring event. Students, teachers, the principal and custodians dressed as hobos for one day.

In 1948, construction began on an addition to the school, which would increase the building capacity from 450 to 750 pupils. A rear wing was added, housing 12 new classrooms and a visual education room. There was a new cafeteria, an open patio and the gymnasium was doubled. Voters approved a bond issue of $325,000 for this construction. In the fall of 1948, Harold C. Dent became principal, assuming responsibility for 30 teachers and an enrollment of just under 600 students.

Children assigned to the rooms on the north of the school considered themselves fortunate. About 3:00 every afternoon, the cattle pastured in the field to the north of the school came down to a big tank for water – this ritual was always fun to watch.

Within the space of two years enrollment at Prairie doubled, reaching a total of 1200 students in 1950. Mary Oyster was Vice-Principal in charge of primary education; Norman Babcock was Vice-Principal for the upper grades. The school board frantically started building news schools and Mr. Dent officially became superintendent of Prairie District in October, 1951. Norman Babcock became Prairie’s Principal, and Porter School opened in with Mary Oyster as Principal (kindergarten – 3rd grade only). Highlands started in 1952 with Charles Malone as principal, and Belinder opened in February, 1953 with Paul Gooch as principal.

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Research conducted by Mrs. Jeanne Tapp, May 1972 (sources cited here).