early days, every Hamilton County student lived near a school.
Students living in small towns would walk to their school, and students
living on a farm could walk (a few would ride a horse or buggy) to the
closest country school. Hamilton County had 51 school districts
until 1954. View the 1918 Hamilton Township map below
which shows an example. (It
may be clicked to see an enlarged view.)
the one-room country schools were closed, a bus was needed to bring the
farm kids to the nearest town. Hamilton County students would
learn and then graduate from the school in the nearby town: Jewell High
School, Stanhope High School, Ellsworth High School,
Randall High School, Kamrar High School, Stratford High School,
Webster City High School, Blairsburg High School, or Williams
Paul Lutheran Church in Boone County (south of Stanhope and close to Highway
17) had a school for students through their 8th grade. Some of these
students graduated from Hamilton County schools, such as Stanhope High
School (or after 1962, from South Hamilton High School).
29 1958, the South Hamilton Community School District was approved by voters
at a special election. After the reorganization was upheld
in the courts and legalized by the state legislature, it began its operation
on July 1, 1959. The new district was the largest Hamilton County
school in land area, and with an enrollment of 1,254 students, ranked as
the seventy-sixth largest school in Iowa. John T. Gannon of
Stanhope was elected district superintendent with M. B. Curdy and A. I.
Kingery serving as assistant superintendents. Each of the four
towns (Jewell, Ellsworth, Stanhope, and Randall) had always operated their
own K-12 program. It was the philosophy of the board that to
provide proper breadth of programs at efficient expenditure levels, classes
of at least 100 students per grade were desirable. This meant a central
facility, and because of transportation and auxiliary expenditures it seemed
feasible to plan for a combination junior-senior high school to accommodate
all students at these levels in one building. In 1960, a proposed
new high school building plan was received from architects Frangkiser &
Hutchens of Kansas City, but in February and June of 1961, bond issues
for $1,130,000 for the construction of a new high school were defeated
by voters. In 1961, the school board approved the proposal
to name athletic teams Hawks and Hawkettes.
In December of 1961, the until September of 1962, a central high school
was established at the Jewell center. In the 1962-1963
school year, all South Hamilton senior high student (grades 10-12) attended
high school in Jewell and students grade 7-9 attended one of the twin junior
highs in Ellsworth and Stanhope. Kindergarten through
six graders attended school in the four town centers, Jewell, Ellsworth,
Stanhope, and Randall.
was originally the Jewell Lutheran College administration building, which
became Jewell High School in 1925, when there no longer was a college in
Jewell. This structure then became the high school center for
the newly formed South Hamilton School when high school students from the
four communities and the surrounding area were brought together in 1962.
1962, Hamilton County school districts had been reduced to four large community
school districts; Northeast Hamilton Community School, South Hamilton Community
School, Stratford Community School, and Webster City Community School.
the South Hamilton Community School passed a bond issue to construct a
new school building, South Hamilton operated in the old school buildings
remaining from Jewell Lutheran College.
This view showing the back side of the buildings faces northeast.
This view faces north northwest.
The high school building was located
north of the elementary school gym, shown at right in this image and at
left in the image above this one. It sat empty for a number
of years after students moved into the new South Hamilton building and
was finally demolished in 1973.
South Hamilton's elementary school
gym and the Superintendent's home are the only remaining buildings from
the Jewell Lutheran College days.
to fulfill the mandate of reorganization, to insure the children of
the district a brighter hope for the future by providing them the best
possible educational opportunities, petitions for bond issues to build
a new facility were presented the board of education by interested patrons.
In order to assist patrons, committees, and the board of education in planning
for the new facility, the architectural services of Frangkiser and Hutchens
of Kansas City were retained by contract in March of 1960.
Architect Drawing of the Proposed Facility
at issue was where to build a new junior-senior high school building for
grades seven to twelve. Seven bond issues were put before the
voters. If the location was cited in Jewell, the outlying areas
tended to vote no. If the location was cited in the country,
Jewell voted no. On June 7 and December 9 of 1963, the bond
issues for $1,200,000 was defeated. Over a period of almost four
years, plans to cut back to save costs such as inflation affected the project.
Now also eliminated was the proposed indoor pool, a three hole golf course,
an indoor track and air conditioning. After six unsuccessful
attempts to gain a 60% majority favoring the issuances of bonds to construct
a new junior-senior high school, the $1,425,000 issue voted on April 19,
1966 carried by a 65% margin. The successful vote was a result
of a vigorous campaign on the part of the board and interested patrons
to inform the voters in the district of the bond issue's importance.
Finally in a special election on April 19, 1966, the seventh try for a
school bond issue passed for construction of the new high school in Jewell.
of 1966, the board succeeded in negotiating with the heirs of the Amos
Erickson estate for thirty acres of land adjacent to the old Jewell school
site at a cost of $42,000. This action made it possible to sell the
$1,425,000 of bonds on September 26 at an interest rate of 4.247%.
In the fall of 1968, students were moved into the new building.
ground breaking ceremony for the new South Hamilton junior-senior high
building was held Sunday, March 12, 1967. A brief ceremony
was held at 3 PM, during which board president Curtis Thoreson turned the
first spade full, followed by board members Richard Arends, Clarence Hove,
Robert Young, and Francis LeMaster.
Curtis Thoreson, board president
spade was then handed to a representative of the general contractor, Roth
Associates of Storm Lake. Others on the program were the Rev.
R. D. Ehlers of Ellsworth and Rev. Karl Miller of Stanhope and Superintendent
That ground-breaking spade is now on display
mounted on the wall inside the front door
of the school.
(Click image to see the writing on the plaque.)
A price had been paid, however, and disagreements over location caused
delays. Because of increased costs, the new school was not
really the same one envisioned by the architect and planning committee.
Gone were the terrazzo floors, glazed block walls, indoor pool, and barrel-vaulted
auditorium roof. The smaller band room, lack of storage space,
and the poor quality windows and doors which later had to be addressed
symbolized the cheapening of the planned school structure.
On December 29 of 1968 the dedication of the new junior-senior high school
building was held. A booklet was given out at this event explaining
many details. A quote from that dedication
booklet is seen below this next image.
|"We dedicate this building to the services of youth
and adults, whereby we can best meet their needs. We believe these
needs to be:
To acquire, through competent guidance, habits of
To develop and maintain good health habits and
To develop an appreciation of the beauty in literature,
art, music, and nature,
To grow in the ability to think rationally;
To develop moral and ethical character;
To prepare adequately for further education and
to earn a living;
To develop respect for others, regardless of race,
creeed or color;
To use leisure time well;
To understand fundamental scientific facts,
To respect the significance of family life;
And to understand the rights and duties of citizenship
and to be diligent in the performance of obligations as citizens of the
community, the state and the nation."
So a new junior-senior high school
building was constructed.
completion of the new junior-senior high school building, South Hamilton
students were bused to the new school from a 205 square mile area which
included the towns of Ellsworth, Stanhope, and Randall, in addition to
Jewell. The twin junior highs, which had operated since 1962,
were then no longer needed.
The district school maintained
an elementary with grades K-6 in each of the four towns. In
the fall of 1971, The Randall school was changed to accommodate most students
in grades 5-6, while the other three elementary centers taught grades K-4
with Stanhope still having their own grades 5 and 6.
By the fall of 1972, all grades
of 5 and 6 were in the Randall Center. Ninth graders joined
the ranks of high school during the 1974-75 school year.
In the Spring of 1976, another decision was made by the school board to
close the two elementary centers in Ellsworth and Stanhope.
Several new classrooms were added to the elementary in Jewell to accommodate
this move, and grade four was added to the fifth and sixth grades at the
Superintendent Roberts is shown
making remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Although the entire district's 5th and 6th graders were all shuttled to
Randall in 1972, declining enrollment in the 1975-1976 school year brought
the 4th graders were taken by bus to the Randall Center and the district's
K-3 students all were bused to Jewell. Finally in 1980, the
Randall Elementary Center was closed, the schools in Stahope and Ellsworth
also were no longer used, so all South Hamilton students attended school
South High Sports
teams See lists of
1990s Message from the South
to a vision (well ahead of its time) by some education-minded patrons,
South Hamilton became a reality back in 1958. The reorganized
school began its new existence in 1959 and united the towns and the outlying
areas of Ellsworth, Jewell, Randall, and Stanhope into what was to become
a great school district.
to reorganize was not easy then, and it is not easy now, but the vision
of the promoters back in the 50s brought together four small schools into
one that has been able to provide quality education to hundreds of students.
of the high schools were brought together, there was an immediate need
for a new building. Again a vision appeared in the eyes of
some progressive board and community members. In 1961, efforts
were begun to get a bond issue passed for a new high school.
six unsuccessful votes and six years of hard work and determination, a
65.4 percent "yes" vote finally enabled the district to begin construction
of the present middle school/high school building. The building,
completed in 1968, is one of the finest buildings of its kind and is still
highly envied by those who come to visit.
brought the district's first sign of declining enrollments.
At the time of reorganization, the district's enrollment was approximately
1,300 students in grades K-12. During the 70s, enrollment began
to decline at a rate of about four percent each year until it reached a
low of 707 students in 1984. During this time, the state of
Iowa controlled school budget limits based on the declining enrollment
the district directors, acting with economic discretion, voted to close
the Stanhope and Ellsworth elementary centers. All K-4 students
were moved to the Jewell elementary center, and the Randall center housed
the fifth and sixth graders.
move was not taken lightly by some of the patrons, and the district became
involved in litigation that lasted some eighteen months. The
district directors maintained the position that the district could not
afford to keep all of the buildings open with such small numbers (Classes
that were once about one hundred in size were now dropping into the fifties
and forties.), and eventually the court action was dropped.
the district directors voted to close the Randall building and move the
fifth and sixth grades into the buildings in Jewell. This move
was done with very little opposition, and the move saved the district many
dollars so that good programs could remain in the school. With
the 80s came the farm crisis, but the district, which always has had the
educational interests of its students in mind, continued to improve the
school curriculum and facilities. Much remodeling was done
with energy conservation in mind, and the costs of utilities were reduced
so that tax dollars could be spent on education for young people.
Once again the district was a leader in the energy conservation movement.
began with a tornado tearing off a portion of the high school roof.
The community rallied around the rebuilding effort, and school began on
time in the fall. Many improvements were made due to the tornado
-- especially on the athletic fields. The 90s saw the district
really get involved in technology as the district implemented an instructional
support levy to provide students with the latest in technology.
The school's curriculum was totally upgraded, and a curriculum/technology
director was hired.
and State Goals are being forged to make education even better than it
has been. This drive to make the schools world class will make
the 90s the decade of challenge to our school.
The South Hamilton community
has always taken great pride in their school.
They want and deserve the best,
and their support is appreciated.
View the printed copy of Superintendent