History of high schooling

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Moffat County High School is turning 25 this year, and school officials want to commemorate that with a special program.

The high school recently announced a "Look at Me Now" program in which noteworthy graduates are honored with a special place of their own on a wall inside the south commons area and lobby at the high school.

The school is honoring graduates who "have gone on to successful careers, attained unique goals, and/or made significant contributions to the school, community and society in general."

"It is a time to celebrate the milestones of the high school, to highlight the great things we have done and do each and every year," high school Principal Jane Krogman said. "We are always pleased to see graduates return to visit us; seeing their happiness at their successes and knowing that the teachers and staff at MCHS were a part of that success is a validation of our efforts each and every day."

This pride is especially evident this week as students and teachers celebrate homecoming, which culminates today with a parade at 1:30 p.m. in downtown Craig and football game vs. rival Steamboat Springs at the high school, 900 Finley Lane.

Krogman said the high school's Hall of Fame recognizes graduates of the school from its long history.

The Look at Me Know program will focus specifically on graduates from the new building at the top of Finley Lane.

"Look at Me Now is meant to ... give our current students a 'feel' for those whom they may know who have gone on to have successful careers in the field of their interest," Krogman said. "Through this program, we hope to create the sense that 'the sky's the limit' as it relates to the future for our graduates -- their only limitations are those which they impose upon themselves."

Although the high school's new program attempts to pay homage to graduates from the past 25 years, its history runs far deeper. According to records, photos and historical writings at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, formal classes for high school-aged students have occurred in the area during the past three centuries.

The school's beginning dates back to a small, country schoolhouse 124 years ago.

History at a glance

The first school opened in Moffat County around 1882, about the same time that the area's first wave of settlers began moving to the area. The school's establishment coincided with the establishment of the area's first church.

The first schoolhouse measured 16 feet by 20 feet and was made of sawed logs. Twelve students of all ages attended classes the first year, which ran for four months.

In 1892, high school students began attending classes from a white, two-story framed building in the area now known as Breeze Street Park. The area would become a historical landmark over time, housing three school buildings, one of which doubled as the area's first Catholic church and Craig library, and another that featured a belfry.

Although classes began in 1892, the high school didn't officially graduate a class until a decade later, in 1902. The class had four students -- three women and a man.

Museum Director Dan Davidson said the high school didn't have a formally recognized curriculum until 1901, thus explaining the 10-year graduating gap.

School Board records from the era make note of board members approving policies prohibiting running in the hallways and making it against the rules for dancing to take place unless previously approved by the superintendent of schools.

Fourteen years after the first class graduated, the high school needed more room and expanded into a red brick structure in 1916, also in the area of Breeze Street Park. In 1918, the school closed temporarily because of an outbreak of the flu, according to historical papers.

In a controversial move that angered some, the 1916 school -- the area's first public building -- was torn down in 1981, Davidson said.

The high school officially changed its name in 1945 from Craig High School to Moffat County High School. Three years later, in fall 1948, the school moved to what is now the west campus of Craig Middle School.

Classes remained at the middle school location until 1981, when the high school moved into its current building at 900 Finley Lane. The administration building, 775 Yampa Ave., was built as a high school but was never used for that purpose, Davidson said.

Although the decades and addresses were different, Davidson each of the four buildings used to house high school classes shared a similar trait. The buildings were paid for after highly debated tax questions, the museum director said.

The only other institutions, Davidson said, that can trace back as far as the area's school system are the local Masonic Lodge and First Christian Church, both of which were established in the late 1800s and remain intact today.

Nominations

Nomination cards for the "Look at Me Now" program may be obtained through the high school. To nominate MCHS alumni, fill out the card and return it to: Moffat County High School, attention Principal Jane Krogman, 900 Finley Lane.

When nominating a former student, include as much information as possible, officials advise. The selection committee will make attempts to contact the nominee and solicit additional details, high school officials said.

Applications may be submitted quarterly. The deadline for the fourth quarter is March 15.

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