Saturday, May 7, 2016

Education is and was valued by the Junction City Community

5 8 2016
Education is and was valued by the Junction City Community

As students from Junction City High School prepare for Commencement on May 22nd, 2016 it is important to remind them of those who came before them, past graduates from days gone by in hopes of inspiring them as they move on to the next phase of their lives. It is also a good time to look back at the school building that nurtured them as well as the other schools that were part of the Geary County educational history.  It was within those walls that dreams were nurtured, that those first glimmers of success could be seen, and it is within the buildings that the community came together to support the students within. The Class of 2016 should be proud of themselves, their accomplishments today and in the future, and of their
History.  So in that spirit here are brief tales of a few former Junction City High School buildings and of a student who was ahead of her time.
            According to Gaylynn Childs in her writings of “Junction City’s First Schools” there was a piece in the1903 yearbook regarding the Educational History of Junction City. Mrs. A.C. Pierce, a female school board member who wrote, “very early in its history Junction City was especially favored by having among its citizens those who appreciated intellectual culture.”  The 1900 Junction City yearbook included musing from Mrs. McFarland, who conducted school at that time. She recollected that the school house was located above the city jail.  Later on when the Davis County District No.1 was created the school room was relocated to a room above P.Z. Taylor’s dry goods store. Families were eager to educate their children and the locations were transitory until Junction City residents raised $5,000 through the issuance of bonds to construct the “Old South” building which held its first term in July of 1867.  In 1903 the School Board began plans for the construction of a new High School building as the ones located within the McKinley and Lincoln buildings were severely overcrowded. With the purchase of the 3 lots on the corner of Sixth and Adams with the ground breaking taking place in early October of 1903.
            It was the JCHS Class of 1904 that experienced the new learning environment.  They were also the first graduating class to don the classic commencement regalia of the cap and gown.  The new building allowed for athletics to play a more prominent role in the student’s growth and development.  The high school on Sixth and Adams was conducive to more of the arts in the curriculum; instrumental and vocal musicals as well as drama and debate were now offered. During the World War I years the Red Cross was assisted by the JCHS sewing classes in making pillowcases, kit bags as well as socks and caps for the soldiers. By the 1920’s the 6th and Adams high school was clearly too small and the last group of seniors to call it home graduated in 1929.  The former high school went on to become the Junction City Departmental School.  As times changed the needs of the Junction City students evolved and the building underwent various uses until the construction of the new high school and the district returned to a 6-3-3 grade system. The Sixth and Adams building was later purchased by Fred and Dorothy Bramlage to house the Geary County Historical Society.     
Now to the story of a Junction City High School Alumni who was very much ahead of her time. Laura Rohrer Bauman was a graduate of the Junction City class of 1915.  She went on to Washburn University for her undergraduate work and completed her studies at Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago. She graduated with her law degree in 1920 and returned to Kansas and was the 1st woman lawyer in Kansas.  She went to have a long and successful career in Junction City retiring from the practice of law in 1954. However she was instrumental in the founding of the Geary County Historical Society in 1972 and the creation of the Geary County Historical Museum in the early 1980’s. 
The founders of Junction City knew the value of providing a good education for their children.  They raised funds, stayed at the forefront of curriculum changes, and assured that the school was the heart of the community.  So as you celebrate the mile stone of your commencement be mindful that the community as well as your teachers and your coaches, supported you. Your education is and always was of the utmost important to the people of Junction City and Geary County.