History of Garfield High School
This history was compiled using the 50th Anniversary history of Garfield High School, written by Bradley Lorton and updated using the 1962 through 1971 yearbooks. However, many spring activities and sports often were not included in the yearbooks because of press deadlines. For example, it is known that the tennis teams were City Champs at least 18 times; however, those records are not included in the Benedictus.
Following is a year-by-year look at the history of Garfield:
1908 – October
A train-streetcar wreck at 6th Street and the Big Four Railroad caused northside residents to speculate about what would have happened if the streetcar had been crowded with students from the northside returning home from Wiley High School, the only high school in Terre Haute.
The Northside Committee met for the first time at the Maple Avenue Methodist Church.
1909 – February
A petition was presented to the School Board of Trustees from northside residents requesting that a new high school be built in the north end of Terre Haute. The board finally agreed to build the new school after much disagreement.
1910 – September
The future school was named Garfield after President James A. Garfield following the motion of Superintendent William Wiley. Other names suggested were Horace Mann, Northside High School and Maple Avenue High School.
1911 – April 10
Construction work finally began on the new building.
1911 – September
The cornerstone laying ceremony was held.
Garfield High School opened for the first time on September 3, 1912. Roy Smyres was the first student registered and be the end of the day, a total of 432 students had enrolled. Statistics show that more students attended high school that year because of the availability of the new school than had previously been attending Wiley High School.
Northsiders felt justified in the request for a second high school in Terre Haute.
The football team lost their first game to Waveland by a score of 100-0. The basketball team won one game – the last game of the season.
Mr. A. E. Highley was the first principal of Garfield High School.
1913 – June
At the first graduation ceremony held, Elmer Austermiller received the first Garfield Diploma. The seniors established the tradition of Senior Week by having a hayride to Forest Park, a boat ride on the Wabash River, a senior breakfast, sunrise dance and baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies.
Students chose purple and white, the colors of Collett School, as the school colors.
The first Benedictus, the first high school yearbook published in the Terre Haute area, was produced by the students.
Mr. T.W. Records became the principal and the first athletic coach, Mr. E. B. Clogston, was assigned to Garfield.
The girls basketball team was undefeated for the season and printing presses were installed at the school. Garfield was the vocational training center in Terre Haute until the establishment of Gerstmeyer High School.
The first PTA in the city and county was organized at Garfield High School.
Jim Conover set the 100-yard dash and 200-yard dash records at the IHSAA State Track Meet.
Garfield defeated Wiley 7-6 in football, overcoming tremendous odds. The “never say die” tradition of the Spirit of 7 to 6 was born.
This year saw the first graduating class to complete four years at Garfield.
The track team won the Track and Field Sectionals.
The “Benny” was not published because of wartime restrictions.
The track team won the Track and Field Sectionals again and the football team defeated Wiley 7-6 in the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
Mr. E. E. Hilton became the principal.
Athletic events were curtailed because of World War I and school was closed for three months in the fall because of a Spanish Influenza epidemic. Graduation was not held until July, after the missed time was made up.
The football team won the Wabash Valley Championship.
J. J. Maehling, Class of 1916, became the first former student from Garfield to return to the school as a teacher.
Enrollment was up to 817 and the “doghouses” which were freezing cold in the winter and sweltering in the warmer months – appeared on the school grounds to provide extra classrooms. They remained until the late 1930s.
The Hi-Y Club was organized.
Leather jackets became the identifying garb of the seniors during the 1920s.
The Blue Tri Club (later the Y-Teens) was organized.
Sectional Championships were won by the Purple Eagles in basketball and track and field.
The girls basketball team completed their best complete season, winning 12 and losing only 2.
The basketball team went to the final game of the State Tournament under the direction of Coach “Red” Hanna.
In May, 1922, construction was begun on the annex behind the main building.
Mr. Charles Zimmerman became principal.
The Benedictus was not published because of a lack of funds.
Once again, Garfield defeated Wiley in football by the score of 7-6/
The name of the school newspaper, “The Revue”, was changed to the “Royal Purple”.
The Benedictus was published for the first time as an 8 1/2 x 11 hardcover book.
The traditional Wiley-Garfield Thanksgiving Day football game was played at the new Memorial Stadium on East Wabash and Brown Avenue. This was the first event held in the new stadium.
The basketball team won the Wabash Valley Tournament and the Sectionals.
The first Homecoming for Garfield alumni was held.
Girls were no longer permitted to participate in interscholastic sports.
The National Honor Society chapter was received by the Garfield organization in 1925.
The basketball team, once again, won the Sectionals.
The first Junior-Senior Prom was held.
Hugh Mendenhall set a broad jump record at the City Track Meet.
Once again, the basketball team won the Sectionals.
The Junior Class added a banquet to the prom event held for graduating seniors.
G.A.A. was organized for the first time at Garfield.
The basketball team won the Sectionals and the track team was sectional co-champs.
The effects of the Depression curtailed almost all events during the school year.
The Hi-Y organized the first textbook exchange for students.
Jack Wilson, Class of 1925, presented his painting of the “Spirit of ’76″ to the school. The painting hung in the lower hall near the front entrance until the school closed in 1971. It is now in the Milirary Room at the Historical Museum of the Wabash Valley.
The effects of the Depression continued to be felt at the school. Hi-Y was disbanded, the Royal Purple discontinued, and the Junior-Senior Prom and Banquet was cancelled.
A Senior Breakfast and Dance was held for graduating seniors.
The Benedictus was not published because of a lack of funds.
After the game “mixers” became the vogue during the 1930s.
In April, 1934, fire destroyed the midsection of the main building. Classes were held in various buildings around the Twelve Points area until the damage was repaired.
In November, 1934, classes resumed in the newly refinished main building.
The Class of 1935 elected the first girl senior class president, Ruby Reece.
Once again, Garfield defeated Wiley 7-6 in football.
The Class of 1937 elected the first football queen, Eleanor Serban.
1,056 Purple Eagle fans chartered a train to Evansville for the Garfield-Reitz football game.
In November, northside residents petitioned the School Board to build a gymnasium at Garfield.
The track team won the IHSAA State Track Meet.
The Royal Purple returned to the scene.
In December, the northside residents once again partitioned for a new gym to be built. Construction finally began in March, 1938.
The senior class again elected a girl, Helen Geisnan, president of their class.
Jack Gray and Winston Cundiff set records at the IHSAA Final Track Meet.
In May, 1938, Mr. Zimmerman died and Mr. Edward Hylton became principal of Garfield High School.
Miss Grace DeVaney was appointed Dean of Girls and Mr. Willard Kehrt was appointed basketball coach.
Homerooms were established and the tradition of home room teachers being the committee of class sponsors for their respective classes was begun. Hi-Y was reestablished and in August, the new gymnasium was completed at a cost of $41,508. Labor for the project was furnished by the W.P.A.
The basketball team won the Regionals in the state tournament.
Student Council was created and the Drama Club received its charter from the National High School Thespian Society. The Girl’s Cabinet, organized under the direction of Miss DeVaney, started the Big and Little Sister tradition and published student handbooks.
Gerstmeyer and Garfield Hi-Y Clubs purchased the Silver Triangle trophy to be awarded to the winner of the Tech-Garfield football game each year.
The basketball team was sectional champs again.
he bonfire tradition was begun to replace the Thanksgiving Day Parade before the Garfield-Wiley football game. (The bonfire was discontinued in the early 1950s because of the danger to nearby buildings.)
The Garfield String Ensemble, under the direction of Miss Nelle Duncan, won first place in the 1941 National Music Festival.
Queen’s attendants were added to the football queen court and Mr. Donas Dischinger was appointed head football coach.
Spencer Hicks of the maintenance staff produced the first of many successful minstrel shows as a fundraiser.
Miss DeVaney began corresponding with all former Garfield students who were serving the military during World War II.
The Junior Red Cross was organized under the direction of Miss Helen Ross.
A Victory Corps was organized to build men for service and foster citizenship. Members of the group sponsored salvage drives to contribute to the war effort.
A poem written by Garfield student Pauline Scott was published by the National Poetry Association.
Publication of Royal Purple which had been discontinued during the war years, was resumed.
The Blue Tri and Hi-Y clubs sent over 500 copies of each edition of the Royal Purple to Garfield men and women who were serving in the armed forces.
The Student Council won approval from school administrators for dancing in the halls during the noon hour.
The basketball team on the Wabash Valley Tournament for the first time.
The Senior Class President established the yellow cords tradition for seniors and was the first to pass on the president’s cords to the incoming senior class president.
Mr. Hylton retired as principal at the end of the school year.
Mr. James Conover became principal of Garfield and Mr. Geore Yaeger was appointed to the coaching staff.
Jim Hughes won first honors in dramatic declamation at the State Speech Festival.
The basketball team won the W.I.C. and Wabash Valley championships and reached the final game of the State Tournament. Ronnie Bland won the Trester Award at the State Finals.
The Tulip Trek was established to maintain the Memorial Lawn in commemoration of Garfield graduates who lost their lives during World War II.
Miss Mary Jane Burt organized the first all-valley G.A.A. Play Day.
The basketball team won the Wabash Valley Tournament and were W.I.C. co-champs.
Gregg Bell and Clyde Lovellette, future Olympic gold medal winners, graduated with the Class of 1948.
The Girl’s Cabinet became the Deans’ Cabinet, which sponsored the beginning of school Jamboree and Sweeties Day to support their service projects.
Clyde Lovellette was named All-American Basketball Player.
Joe Claretto became the first class president to be elected for three consecutive years.
Garfield defeated Wiley 7 to 6 in football.
The Magazine Drive originated to raise funds for curricular and extra-curricular improvements and projects.
The basketball team won the Regionals in the State Tournament.
The Hi-Y Club purchased a popcorn machine to sell popcorn for fundraising projects.
Mr. Thorval Mattax became the head football coach.
The traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between Wiley and Garfield was moved to an earlier date
The football team won the Wabash Valley Championship.
“Eddie Eagle” was introduced by the Benedictus staff as the school mascot.
Driver’s Education was added to the school curriculum and sophomores ,rather than juniors, purchased their class rings.
Under the direction of Orville Jones and Mr. Conover, the Key Club, the first in Terre Haute, was organized.
The basketball team won the W.I.C. championship and during the season, set a one game scoring record of 101 points.
The Rhythmettes, the first group of its kind in the area, was organized under the direction of Mr. Leslie Evinger.
The football team was undefeated and untied for the season – the only Garfield team in the history of the school to achieve this record.
The basketball team won the Sectionals and the W.I.C championship and the track team won the Wabash Valley championship and the Sectionals.
Liz Beldon and Jan Foulkes won first and second prizes in the Chamber of Commerce essay contest and were flown to Hollywood for their efforts.
The Most Popular Girls at the Jamboree were Javins, Class of ’58; Peggy Hall, Class of ’57; Rosalie Kosco, Class of ’56 and Sharon Joseph, Class of ’55.
Bob Cain and Amelia Partington were chosen “Guy and Doll” of the year at the Sophemore Sock Hop and the Juniors elected Sharon Winters as their Junior Prom Queen.
Miss Sue Nicoson reigned as Queen of the Purple Eagles. Her attendants were Nancy Edmonson, ’58; Ellen Combs, ’57; Suzanne Eberhart, ’56; and Janet Rogers, ’55.
The basketball team won the W.I.C. championship. Marilyn Byers was chosen Queen of the Purple Eagles with attendants Suzanne Eberhart, ’56; Beverly Lloyd, ’57; Barbara Blackmore, ’58 and Janice White, ’59.
At the beginning of school Jamboree, Alice Yatsko, ’56; Donna Javins, ’57; Polly Wright, ’58 and Roseann Baltesu, ’59 were chosen as the “Most Popular Girls.” Amelia Partington reigned as Junior Prom Queen for the Class of 57.
Mid-year commencement ceremonies were held for the last time.
TWIRP (The Woman is Required to Pay) Week was established by the Student Council. Dean Powell was elected TWIRP King.
Ellen Botner, Queen of the Purple Eagles for 1956-1957 had Beverly Lloyd, ’57; Kathryn, ’58; Susan Templeton, ’59 and Nikki Smith, ’60 for attendants.
Shirley Plimmer was elected Junior Prom Queen by the Class of ’58 and at the Jamboree, Sharon Gibson, ’57; Annora Hall, ’58; Judy Jerrels, ’59 and Diana Chirick, ’60 were chosen “Most Popular Girls.”
New band uniforms and majorette uniforms were purchased.
In sports, the football team won the Wabash Valley and W.I.C. championships and the basketball team duplicated those achievements.
Terry Dischinger, future Olympic gold medal winner, graduated with the Class of ’58.
Joanne Yaeger was crowned Queen of the Purple Eagles and was attended by Judith Robers, ’58; Sandra Gossom, ’59; Joan Ely, ’60 and Katie Hulman, ’61.
The Magazine Drive set a new high school record for Terre Haute with total sales of more than $9,000. Alice Adams set a high sales record of over $400.
Karen Gabbard won a First Place Award in the Girls Biological Division at the National Science Fair.
Karen Kraft was a National Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Contest.
The football team defeated Wiley 7 to 6 once again and the basketball team won the Sectionals.
In Indianapolis, the Indiana General Assembly passed the School Reorganization Act of 1959. The effects of the passage of this act were to be felt in Vigo County in only two years.
Vicci Richards won a First Award in the Girls Biological Division at the National Science Fair.
The “Royal Purple” staff circulated the “Little Lavender” between editions so that students could keep up with school news.
At mid-year, Grace DeVaney became the new principal of Garfield High School. Mr. Conover was promoted to Co-Coordinator of Educational Planning in the new Vigo County School Corporation.
The first students from Otter Creek and Nevins Townships arrived at Garfield as a result of county reorganization of the school system.
Mr. Tom Miller was appointed head football coach and the basketball team won the Sectionals.
Stephen Moore won the First Award at the American Pharmaceutical Association National Science Fair in Seattle.
The Student Council garnered first prize in the Christmas Parade float contest.
As the Golden Anniversary of Garfield was celebrated, the high school became a three-year school for the first time.
Short skirts, teased hairdos and the “Twist” were in style this year.
The Juniors changed their traditional fundraiser from the Junior Revue to a show about television programs and the National Thespian Society held its first Annual Play Festival.
In music, the band won first place in Class A Division.
In sports, the basketball team unesxectedly went to the state finals. Greg Samuels became the second student in the history of the school to win the coveted Trester Award.
The basketball team named Miss DeVaney “Miss Indiana Basketball” and it must have been too much for her. She retired at the end of the school year after serving on the faculty since 1938.
Dr. James Rentschler became the principal.
The Student Council revised the school constitution and the basketball team once again won the Sectionals.
Nancy Junker won the National Betty Crocker Award for home management and scored the highest ever for a Garfield student on the SAT.
The “Royal Purple” earned a first place award from the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association.
Mr. Don McDonald was appointed head basketball coach
Madras plaids were in style this year.
Mr. Bradley Lorton became the principal of Garfield High School.
The basketball team won the Sectionals.
The beginning of school Jamboree was moved outside to the parking lot instead of being held in the lower hall.
The basketball team set a new record for a one game score of 115 points – they scored over 100 points in five games during the season and went on to win the Sectionals.
The Senior Vest was added to the traditional yellow cord and polka dot shirt outfit worn by the senior class president. More room was needed for the president’s names and class years.
The Cross Country team won the County, W.I.C. and Sectional championships and placed 11th in the Indiana State Track meet.
A “summer supplement” was added to the Benedictus so spring activities could be included.
The old auditorium was renovated and made into a new library.
Students held a “snake dance” all the way to the Wiley gym before the Wiley-Garfield football game.
The Junior Class presented a Variety Show instead of the traditional Revue.
Mr. Gene Shike became the head football coach and Mr. Charles Seitz became the head basketball coach.
The basketball team won the W.I.C. championship and set a new scoring record with 122 points in one game against Linton.
Fall delivery was scheduled for the first time for the Benedictus.
The cornerstone of Garfield High School was opened on May 26, 1971 and a farewell Open House was held for all students and alumni on June 6, 1971.
The last day of classes at the northside high school was June 11, 1971.
November 19, 1973
Demolition of the building at 11th and Maple was begun. The building is gone, but the spirit of Garfield lives on in the minds and memories of the students, faculty, administrators, parents and all others affiliated with the school in its’ fifty nine year history.