So That All May Learn - The Story of the Springfield Public Schools

New Senior High is built; affects many

Senior High School

A new Senior High School was opened in January, 1894, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Central Street. It consisted of 44 rooms, including an auditorium on the second floor.

Ever since that time it has played an important role in the growth and development of public education in Springfield.

That first year, the new school graduated approximately 40 people.

By 1907, the student high school population was pushing 900 and the first addition was made onto the east side of the original structure, providing 11 more rooms.

In 1913, another addition was built on the east end of the Senior High School further increasing its capacity by another 21 rooms.

Since then a manual training building (1917), a gymnasium (1931), stadium (1936), fine arts building (1937), industrial arts building (1939), auditorium and cafeteria (1940), and physical education facility (1983) have been added. Today, the building is the oldest structure being used for classes in the district.

For over 62 years this facility housed all of the high school activities in the district. In 1956, when the student population at Senior High rose to close to 3500, Parkview High School was built to share the load.

The physical history of the Senior High School tells only a small part of the school's story, however.

Throughout those 62 years as "the" high school, Senior High built up a reputation and a tradition that has carried over and expanded since it was renamed Central high School.

It would be an impossible task to try and recount the impact the thousands of young people who have graduated from this school have had on the community, Missouri, and the United States. Their impact has been tremendous.

The school itself has served as the focal point for the community also since its construction, a symbol of good education and the provider of many programs of culture and education. The auditorium at Central for years provided the only theatre-type auditorium of any size for community events.

Jonathan Fairbanks was Superintendent of Schools when Senior High School was built and during its early life. If he were alive today, he undoubtedly would be surprised by some of the dress, activities, curriculum...but he would probably still be as familiar with and welcome to the school as he was then. While its facilities have changed some and its programs and opportunities have expanded, it still remains its friendly self.

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