School maintains educational success throughout rich history
The high school turned 90 years old on February 2. On this day in 1925, over 450 students entered the new building for their first day of class.
The first school in Shorewood history, a log cabin schoolhouse, was built on the current SHS campus and classes started there in 1848. This community school suffered two fires in 1864 and 1895, and was rebuilt once in 1896.
High school students were sent to Riverside High School on a village-paid tuition until 1922. Then, they were added to Atwater Elementary School. Finally, both high school and middle school students moved to the completed campus in 1925. 7th and 8th graders stayed there until the Intermediate School was completed in 1970.
Before building the high school, the school board contacted several advisors from colleges and universities around the country in order to develop a campus plan that would facilitate educational success as well as fit the space they were working with. Through this search process, the board found Professor Thomas Lloyd Jones, chairman of the University of Wisconsin High School Relations Committee, who suggested a college campus style, as opposed to the common, one-building high school campus seen nationwide. The board supported this plan, and construction began in 1924.
In the first few years of SHS history, the campus went through several renovations and additions. The administration building was the first building to be completed, and it was there and in the manual arts (the current fitness center) building that the first classes were held. According to John Jacobson, social studies teacher, the manual arts building was the educational center for a variety of unique classes.
“What is now the fitness center used to be an industrial arts, drafting, vocational education building where there were classes in drafting and welding and things like that,” said Jacobson.
In 1928 and 1930, the gymnasium was finished, along with the science building in 1929. There were plans to make an entirely separate building for the library, but the idea was not completed. Finally, the auditorium, partially modeled after the RKO Theatre in New York, was finished in 1935. The copper dome, one of the high school’s most well-known aspects, was not actually included in the initial building plans, but was added to complete the college campus feel.
The high school has become a historical monument in the community.
“There’s so much character to these buildings that when you look at Shorewood High School, it just lends itself to a person saying, ‘Wow, that’s a great place,’” said Tim Kenney, principal.
Jacobson agrees, saying the campus adds variety to the high school.
“I appreciate the campus layout, the fact that we attend classes in many buildings, and the idea that you have to go outside sometimes to go from one class to the next. I love the fact that where we learn and teach is literally a historic landmark,” Jacobson said.
Although the high school is 90 years old, it has maintained a priority in high-level education for all its years.
“The citizens of Shorewood built these schools because they held a ton of value in education,” said Tim Kenney, principal. “Since the doors opened on day one, there have been high expectations for the students of Shorewood, and with those high expectations has resulted in year after year of successful students,” Kenney said.
Lainie Harris, senior, feels particularly connected to the high school because of the people she has met here.
“I think it’s really cool because of how small it is but also how far our reach is. Shorewood is so connected to so many different things even there is only 600 of us,” Harris said. “A lot of people that go here have parents or grandparents or great grandparents that went here, even the teachers. There are so many different generational connections that can be made here and that’s really cool.”
For Kenney, with old age comes great responsibility.
“We have unbelievable facilities that are historical. I hope that the students who continue to come through Shorewood High School will have appreciation for that because we still have to clean up too much vandalism … I’d like to see that stop,” Kenney said. “I go through the hallways after lunch and there’s garbage all over the place. I’d like to see that stop. It’s about respecting the environment and it would warm my heart [to see that happen],” Kenney said.
Jacobson, on the other hand, thinks students have appreciation the facilities around them.
“I think students do respect the buildings. Any time you have a large collection of people, particularly young people – and this would certainly have been true of me when I was in high school – there can be a tendency sometimes to just take your surroundings for granted. For the most part I think students do [respect the buildings],” said Jacobson.
Jacobson believes it is important for students to understand the history of the high school.
“To a certain extent we attempt to teach a little bit about the history of the school in American society. Mr. Halloran teaches it in creative writing, and it’s the kind of thing where you can always be finding new avenues to bring that sense of history to students,” Jacobson said.
“My first few years of teaching I was so busy and trying to keep up with the demands of being a young new teacher that I didn’t appreciate it enough. I probably didn’t even really start appreciating it until I had been here for 10 years. You’re here for four and then you’re gone and you’re busy when you’re here so it’s hard to really take the time to appreciate those things. I think it has as much as anything to do with just being in high school,” Jacobson said.
by Elizabeth Hayes and Helena Rose