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  • Blue Rapids

    The purpose of the Blue Rapids Historical Society is to research, collect, preserve, and make available to the public all information, artifacts, art and memorabilia related to the history of the area.

HISTORY OF THE BLUE RAPIDS SCHOOLS

In honor of the Alumni I would like to start with this article. Please share stories and thoughts.

Blue Rapids Times, January 19, 1939

The first public school opened in the vicinity and was taught by Mrs. Sarah A. Miller, later Mrs. Sarah Duncan.  She gathered children at her pioneer home on the north side of the Blue River not far from the plaster mill, and gave them basic instructions.

Later Mrs. Lucy Palmer, a daughter of Judge William Thompson conducted a school at his home and also in an early day school house built not far from the residence of Mrs. Alice Hamilton and son, Russell.  It was attended by a number of children who were well known in the community in later years; among them were S. Frank Paul, J. L. Hamilton and John Scott.

One of the earliest teachers was Rev. Charles Holmes and he deserved more than passing mention in these schools as he was a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal church whose health had become somewhat impaired and he came to Kansas in the sixties and either rented or purchased a farm north of Blue Rapids to which he devoted a part of his time.  He taught school both before and after Blue Rapids was established; founded the Episcopal Church at Irving and took an active and helpful part in the religious, educational and social life of southwest Marshall County .

The first building erected by the Town Company on the site of Blue Rapids some referred to as “Colonial Hall’ and at other times as “The Ark” was utilized as a school house for several years after the establishment of Blue Rapids.  Rev. Holmes was the first teacher.

In 1874 what was now known as “the old school house” at the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Street was completed and occupied.  By 1880 it proved inadequate to house the pupils who desired to attend and a one story frame 20’x30’ building was built a few rods north of the original structure which housed two of the grades and later another room was added.  Miss Jessie Burr, sister of the late W.J. Burr, was kindergarten teacher in the frame building in the late 1870s.  This frame building was moved years ago and is used today to house the shop of Brake’s Quality Cleaners.

You might have seen a stone panel high beneath the south gable of this old school building bearing the legend “Founded in 1895”.  Thereby hangs a tale.  In the summer of 1895, Prof. J. W. Farr came to the Farrian System.  For instance there was a Farrian system of arithmetic, of English, grammar, etc.  Educators who had examined them, pronounced them of real merit.  Professor Farr proposed to utilize the old building to establish a combined business college and normal training school in it.  It might be remarked that such schools were quite common in Kansas at that time and many were very successful.  Much enthusiasm was felt for the project and many citizens purchased scholarships in the school to assist Prof. Farr in equipping and starting it.  Two men who were to be instructors moved to Blue Rapids with their families.

The school failed to open that fall as planned.  It was stated that considerable special furniture would have to be provided for the business department to simulate a bank, office, store, and railroad station.  Some uneasiness was felt during the fall when it was learned that the professor was endeavoring to initiate a similar college at Hutchinson , but he explained that he was promoting a chain of these schools that would extend to the Pacific coast.

The Blue Rapids School never opened.  By the first of the year Prof. Farr had disappeared.  The instructors and their families removed from Blue Rapids.  It is not impossible that some of our older citizens now (1948-49) still possess some rather gaudily printed scholarship certificates that cost them hard cash for which they received nothing but experience, such as it was.

The schools moved into what would later become just the grade school building in 1893.  At that time there were two grades in each room on the first floor and the high school occupied the second floor.  About 1910-1913, an addition to the north provided three more rooms.  Finally the modern High School was built and completed and placed into service in 1917.  The very first building was then referred to as the “Ag Building” and several high school classes were held there.  Its last year of usefulness was for manual arts classes.  The old ag building was razed in 1954 and the site now holds the gym-auditorium, built at a cost of approximately $122,900 which included a kitchen, bathrooms, dressing rooms, large seating capacity and a large stage area.  It was dedicated in 1956.

Blue Rapids was the first school in Marshall County to establish a standard four-year course for its high school.  The first graduating class was in 1884 with three young men.  The class of 1885 was the smallest with only two graduates.

There were years with no graduates, 1888, 1889, 1892, and 1905.  The largest class to graduate from BRHS was the class of 1938 with 40 members.  The total believed to have graduated from BRHS is 1,380.

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One Response

  1. One of the teachers had this bio in her alumni register:

    ARNOTT, Isabelle C., B.S., D.S., High School Instructor in Home Economics and Agriculture, Blue Rapids, Kan. Graduate Student and Student Assistant in Library, K.S.A.C., 1910-11′: Instructor in Eskridge High School, 1911-’12; Instructor in Blue Rapids High School, 1912-.

    Waters, Henry Jackson. “Record of the Alumni of Kansas State Agricultural College.” Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, Manhattan. 1914. p214 (books.google.com accessed 28Oct2012)

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