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SIOUX CITY | When the first students walked through the doors at East High School, not all of the teenagers were glad to be going to a new school.

“A number of people were sent out from Central (High School) and didn’t want to leave their friends,” Gladys George, an East teacher for 39 years, said in a 1985 Journal article. “They were unhappy about that.”

On the morning of Jan. 28, 1925, the first 224 students started classes in the partially finished school, at 1720 Morningside Ave., with 11 teachers.

Adam Traudt said in the 1985 newspaper story that he recalled teaching in the new building, where the classrooms were dirty from ongoing construction. He taught industrial education and woodworking.

George, who taught business and typing classes, said one of her biggest challenges centered on convincing businessmen that East was, in fact, a high school. 

“They thought we were the junior high, and they didn’t want to take our business students,” she said. “I had to go around and talk to them.”

Until East High opened, the city’s only high school was Central. The Castle on the Hill was built in 1890 at 12th and Jackson streets, my alma mater.

"East was built in the shape of a pentagon,” retired East High teacher Royce Barnum said Wednesday. “Kids walked around and around the hallways like it was the loop. If you were able to look at the building from above, it looked a little bit like an arrowhead.”

He figures that led to the school newspaper being named "The Tomahawk" and the yearbook being called "The Arrow."

In 1934, the Black Raiders boys basketball team won the state championship, and the undefeated football team of 1938 laid strong claim to the mythical state championship. 

During World War II, almost 1,200 grads served in the military.

As with other high schools, memories were made, lifelong friendships were formed and wonderful teachers helped guide their students on their paths to adulthood.

East High was converted to East Middle School after the new high school opened in 1972. (North and West highs also opened that year, leading to the closing of Central, Leeds and Riverside high schools.)

East Middle closed in 2002, with the students transferring to the remodeled and expanded Hayworth Junior High. When the old East was torn down in 2004, many expressed sadness that another landmark had disappeared from the city's landscape.

Starting next year, duplexes and fourplexes will be under construction on that land. The developers, MGD Holdings Inc. of Sioux City, are composed of Dr. Greg McCarthy, financial planner Jeff Gebauer and businessman Rick Dominowski.

“I drove by there almost every day and kept thinking there had to be  a use for this empty land,” Dominowski told me Wednesday.

Although he graduated from Heelan High School, he said, he spent a lot of time through the years visiting his grandparents and other relatives who lived near the school in the Peters Park neighborhood. With the housing project, now that land will become part of his history as well.


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