Adams School District
Acknowledgement: The history up to the year 1935 was from an address given at commencement exercises on June 1, 1935, by Loretta Ann Ewald. Additional information for the period covering 1916 to 1968 was compiled by the administrative staff during 1968 - taken from official school records.
History from 1968 to 1990 was compiled by Harriet Weness, an Adams High School alumni. Information was taken from the first alumni manual, school records, friends, neighbors, school yearbooks, interviews, Southland staff members and secretaries.
Amy Weimer, a Business Professionals of America student at Southland High School, prepared the booklet for publication. Amy was advised by Dean Tipton.
The first public school in the village of Adams was built in 1869 on the lot where the Jeanette Retterath residence now stands. The school contained two rooms and accommodated 100 students.
In 1893, a second two room school was built directly east of the present tennis courts. The school opened in October of that year with an enrollment of 120 pupils. John Griffin of Austin was principal and had charge of the upper classes, while Miss Loretta Guinney of Austin had charge of the lower classes.
A third room was added to the building in the summer of 1897 and that fall, Professor Thaddeus Thompson of Austin became principal and had charge of the higher classes with 60 pupils enrolled in his room. Miss Susie Rattely of Dexter had charge of the intermediate classes of 70 pupils, while Mary Scanlon Howell had charge of the primary classes of 75 pupils, making a total enrollment of 205 pupils.
More pupils enrolled each year and thus it became necessary to add a fourth room in 1899. Professor Arthub acted as principal and Miss Carrie Slindee had charge of the second intermediate, Mary Scanlon Howell of the first intermediate and Miss Andrews had charge of the primary grades. There was an average of 52 pupils to each room.
In 1903, the Catholic parochial school was built and the opening of this school took about half of the students away from the public school. This greatly reduced the crowded conditions at the public school.
Up to 1900, the teachers were obliged to do their own janitor work with the occasional help from students on "scrub days." In 1900, John and Walter McDonnough were hired by the school committee to sweep the floors, thus greatly relieving the teachers.
Entertainments and socials were given by the teachers and students to raise money to buy books and furniture. Occasionally plays were given for the purpose of obtaining money to redecorate the rooms. Every two weeks a program was given for the benefit of the parents. This was similar to the present P. T. A.
The visits of the County Superintendent were always great events. The students met her at the depot and marched to the school where a program was planned for the day.
In 1902, the first year of high school was added and was taught by the principal, William Masteloor. As the years went by, the need for a full four year high school became more and more apparent. In the spring of 1916, the first step was taken towards this goal when rural districts 7, 105, 65 and 100 voted 94 to 48 to consolidate with the Adams School District. This was one of the earlier consolidations in the state of Minnesota.
On May 2, 1916, the new consolidated school district voted to issue bonds in the amount of $30,000 to build a new school house. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, 153 to 7. At this same election, it was voted to change from a common school district to an independent school district.
On June 5th, 591 ballots were cast to elect a school board for the new district. Those elected were Ole Bergene, Anfind Amble, J. J. Fardahl, Lewis Lewison, Andrew Torgerson and Mike Schneider. Mr. Schneider was elected chairman of the board and Anfin Amble served as the first treasurer and A. Torgerson as the first clerk.
The first order of business of the new board was to let contracts for the new school building and construction was started later in the summer. The new school building was completed so that the students could move in the fall of 1917. With the space now available, it was possible for the first time to have a four year high school. The 10th grade was added during the 1916-1917 school year when the old building was still in use and during the 1917-1918 school year, the 11th and 12th years were added. There were 50 high school students and 190 grade school students during the first year in the new building.
The first senior class graduated in the spring of 1918 and the three members of the first class were Mary McGreavey, Gertrude Schneider and Rosie Zilz. The class of 1919 also had three members, Frank Hueman, Juletta Knutson, and Coralae Schissel. Including the 51st graduating class, the class of 1968, 1280 individuals have graduated from Adams High School. The largest graduating class was the class of 1966 with 54 members. The smallest classes were the classes of 1918 and 1919.
The 1916 building was one of the most modern in its day and for some years adequately met the needs of the district. But within ten years, due to increased enrollment, crowded conditions again existed at the public school. Not only was the school short of classroom space, but facilities for the physical education and athletic program were inadequate because of the small size of the original gym.
On December 4, 1935, the voters of the Adams School District were asked to approve a $20,000 bond issue for the construction of a new auditorium-gymnasium. Again, as in 1916, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor with 289 "yes" votes and only 33 "no" votes cast. The construction cost of the new addition was $28,430 with a federal grant through the PWA making up the difference between the cost and the amount of the bond issue. Board members at this time were B. J. Huseby, John Boyum, E. O. Tiegen, A. A. Knutson, Oscar Bergene, and N. V. Torgerson. The new auditorium-gymnasium was first used during the 1936-1937 school year.
After World War II, increasing enrollments as well as a demand for more courses of study again created a critical overcrowding at the school. Thus, on April 26th, 1956, the voters of the district were asked to approve a $370,000 bond issue for an elementary-high school addition. The voters of the Adams School District continued to support bond issues, by casting 352 "yes" votes and 120 "no" votes.
The new addition contained seven elementary classrooms, teachers' lounge, an office area, music room, all purpose room, industrial arts shop and classroom and agriculture shop and classroom. At the same time, extensive remodeling was done in the 1916 building. The new addition was first used during the 1957-1958 school year. Board members at this time were Herb Osmundson, Vance Torgerson, Nordeen Gilderhus, Martin Prescott, Virgil Bergene, and Paul Winkels.
The voters of the district were again called upon on May 31, 1966 to approve a bond issue for another addition to the school. By a 329 to 77 vote, the voters approved a $39,000 bond issue which provided for the enlargement of the kindergarten room and the construction of a remedial reading room. Thus, over the years, the voters of the district have four times given large majorities to bond issue elections and this support of the community has made possible the modern facilities that are now available for the students of the district.
Over the past 51 years, many improvements have been made in the high school curriculum. At first, most of the course offerings were of the college preparation type. It was soon recognized, however, that such an offering did not meet the needs and interests of all the students. In 1926, Adams became one of the first small high schools in the state to add vocational agriculture to the curriculum. Later, in the thirties, basic business education courses were offered for the first time. With the completion of the addition in 1957, it was possible to offer a full program of industrial arts and expand course offerings in the other areas. Today, the students at Adams High School have a wide offering of courses and extra-curricular activities available to them and much modern equipment is available for their use.
Full time kindergarten was added and a remedial reading teacher was employed for the first time in 1966.
Twelve superintendents have served the Adams School District, Lars Kildahl, the first superintendent, served two years, 1916-1918. During the 1918-1919 school year, Herbert Tragethon was appointed to the position but only served one month when he had to leave for the service. Myrtle Nolan served out the remaining year.
R. A. Peterson filled the position for four years from 1919-1928 and 1928. C. E. Ulvestad served only during the 1928-1929 school year. Victor Halverson served from 1929 to 1936, a total of seven years.
H. J. Sorkness has the longest term of service, 17 years from 1936 to 1953. John Palm was superintendent for three years, from 1953 to 1956. Gordon Hansen was superintendent for a four year period that covered the years 1956 to 1960. Robert Mohler became superintendent in 1960 and filled the position until 1964, a total of four years.
Robert Jorstad came to Adams in 1964 and was superintendent until 1971, a total of seven years.
In 1965, three common school districts (1236, 1240, and 1242) in Adams and Lodi Townships merged with Adams District No. 491. At that time, the office of County Superintendent of Schools was abolished on January 1, 1967. Dora Tollefson was the last to hold that position.
Consolidation of schools was discussed for several years. One proposal, about 1967, was that Adams, Elkton, Grand Meadow, LeRoy, and Rose Creek merge. Shortly thereafter, LeRoy dropped out; and later Grand Meadow passed a bond issue for a school addition and decided to go on their own.
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