Monday, May 16, 2011

1958 School Consolidation

Pictured above, a few of our Kensett brethren gathered for a "Pre-Party" prior to the 2007 Class Reunion.

When Northwood and Kensett were having their discussions about the consolidation that came to play during our freshman year there is little that I personally can recall. These "new kids" showed up, and over the course of the four years and after have become friends and even lifemates for some on both sides.

But did you ever wonder as a Northwood schoolmate how difficult it must have been to make that huge plunge? To give up school colors, mascot, familiar surroundings, even teachers, to go to the unknown?

Football, for example, was an unknown commodity for those from Kensett, and even if you loved the game, it's not easy to just come out for the team and start playing when you really have no prior experience at terminology, angles, drills, and all the hoopla that goes with it.

In the course of writing for this blog I have thought of their adjustments from time to time, and with recent contributions from SCA (Mr. Arendts) I am finally putting down the words that come to mind about this consolidation. Having worked in the public schools for a number of years I can vouch for the difficulties that a merger brings with it. Yet for many of our class it was pretty much a non-event, and when Serena Shields Holstad was elected Homecoming Queen that year, 1958, it probably helped to bring us all together, at least within our class.

Not long ago I mentioned the lack of girls athletics when we were in school, but if memory serves me correctly, didn't Kensett have its own girls basketball team? And weren't they a pretty good squad until they found themselves homeless at NKHS? Seems like they were maybe way ahead of the times. Kensett had formed a Girls Athletic Association as early as 1911, perhaps a precursor to their later athletics, and at Northwood GAA was all that could be offered for women's athletics, at least until Title IX came along, as referenced previously in this blog.

Someone recently sent me a copy of the Kensett Centennial Book from 1972, which I found to be interesting reading, and the source of the GAA info above. The book addresses the conflict between the two communities over establishing the county seat. Both towns wanted that title, obviously, and the argument apparently went to the Iowa Supreme Court before it was finally settled. Maybe the title isn't so coveted today, but it certainly was in the past, even to the point where certain national companies wanting to expand their markets would list "County Seat" towns as a desirable location.

Ironically, there is no mention in the Centennial Book about the drama of the school re-org, at least in the section titled "History of the Kensett Schools", perhaps as if it were never an issue. It does tell us that in the early 1900s the graduating class was composed of anywhere from zero to 3 students, and since attending, let alone graduating, high school in those days was quite unusual, those numbers should not be surprising. But by the time we all graduated in 1962, I would have no idea how many of our 65 were from whichever town. And if you told me that 20 of us were from Kensett, I'd have a heck of a time picking them out of the lineup. And isn't that a good thing? We're all the richer for it.

1 comment:

  1. This seemed out of sync to include in the posting above, but I found it interesting in reading the Centennial Book that one of the few names I recognized from the early 1900's was Arendts, no doubt relatives of SCA.


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