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A look at the history of the East Clinton School District

East Clinton Local School District. Originally Wayne Township Centralized Schools. First completely centralized school in Ohio.

Wayne Township of Clinton County was established in 1837 from territory taken from Green and Richland Townships, and for school purposes was divided into eight districts: Concord School on Reed Road: Harmony School at the intersection of Fisher Road and Terrell Road: just west of the Memphis Church : Pleasant Hill School on Henry Road: Sharps School at the intersection of Hornbeam Rd. and 729: Tin Top School at the intersection of Hamilton and Larrick Roads: Willow College School at the intersection of Terrell and Johnson Roads: and Texas School on Texas Road.

Each district had its own school house and a Board of three directors from the immediate neighborhood. One of these directors was chosen as a clerk.

Up until about 1860, only four subjects were required to be taught at school-Reading, Writing, Spelling. Arithmetic, Grammar, and Geography were added a few years later with many protests. History and Physiology followed with violent opposition. The schools were crowded and it became apparent that a High School was needed. A vote was taken and a new school of two floors was built in Lees Creek just north of where the Lees Creek Church stands on Larrick Rd. This made eight district schools and a High School where pupils could attend after completing the work at their district school.

The first school in this building was taught in the fall and spring of 1885 and 1886 by L.A. Rhonemus. Then in September of 1886, the first High School in Wayne Township was taught by D.S. Miller from Thornville, Ohio.

In 1889 the provision of State Issue 4017 whereby a Board composed of the clerks from each district known as the High School Board, might elect a Superintendent to be over all the districts including the High School. This arrangement made up the system of education in the early days of Wayne Township. Mr. Martin Kennedy became the first Township Superintendent in 1891.

In September of 1982, E.M. Johnson of Highland was made Superintendent, and the following were graduated in the spring of 1894: Stanley Matthews; Cap Bernard; 1895, John H. McFadden, and in 1896 Fred Steele.

Then in the fall of 1896, M.C. Powers were made Superintendent, and Matthew and Thomas N. Regan were graduated in the spring of 1897.

There was no graduation in 1898. But the next year, E.K. Barnes was Superintendent and the following were graduated: Benson McFadden, Brother McFadden, Vernon Rhonemus, Leroy Glove, Ola Van Pelt, and William Dotts.

In 1900, graduates under Mr. Barnes were: Harry Rhonemus, Abbie Goodrich, Lilliam Bean, Cora Van Pelt, Ora McFadden, Dora West, and Russell Duke.

A Mr. Curless from Blanchester then became superintendent, and in the spring of 1901, a class of four-Elijah Van Pelt, Merie Griffin, Frank Ginnevan, and Cara Templar graduated. Under the same superintendence, Herbert Grove Haynes and Estes McVey completed their high school in 1902.

There were no graduates in 1903, 1904, or 1905. The last session in the original High School Building was held in the Spring of 1905.

By 1890, the one room country schools had lost about one third of their population, and by the turn of the new century, hundreds of rural schools had been abandoned, since they were a burden to the people from a financial standpoint, and also because of their inefficiency.

Because of this realization- and that the farm children were not receiving the educational advantages of their city cousins- a group of parents and educators of Wayne Township decided that the only way to improve the situation was to build a central school with facilities equal to the best city schools. This idea of centralizing a whole township was an entirely new educational adventure for the State and the Nation, although a few places had consolidated or partially centralized.

So, with some very sincere opposition, it was decided to present a bond issue to the voters of Wayne Township in 1903, for the purpose of combining all the schools of the township into one central system. The vote carried by a very slim margin and the first step had been taken toward making the schools of Wayne Township the first completely centralized , successful school in the country.

Three and ninety-two one hundredths acres of land were bought from Harriet A. Wilkerson on August 6, 1903, and the deed recorded August 19, 1903, to the Board of Education of Wayne Township, for $525. An eight room school was built for $20,000 at a location as near the center the center of the township as possible. All the money was not used, however.

Charles Wirsing of Washington C.H. was the contractor. Bricks for the building were made from clay taken from the field just a few yards south of where the building was to be built.

On September 4, 1905, the first Board of Education composed of Sampson Tener, Dr. Lambright, Elijah Van Pelt, Hugh Terrell and Theodore Giffin, along with John J. Richeson, the newly chosen, dedicated the new school and the “little red school” in Wayne township became a thing of the past. It was chartered as a first grade High School in 1907.

The school board had made a fortunate choice in selecting Mr. Richeson as the first superintendent, as he proved to be a man of extreme leadership, and was credited with firmly establishing the school in the role of pioneering and programs in education. The school became so significantly successful that it drew the attention of educators far and near, and visitors came seeking knowledge of methods to establish better schools in their home districts.

When school opened in the fall of 1905, ten or twelve wagons pulled by horses, transported the children to and from school. These wagons were not the most comfortable way to travel since the only protection from cold, rain, or snow was the canvas curtain that could be buckled down when needed. The average time a child would be on the road from home to school was about an hour and a half- sometimes longer, because of snow and muddy roads. Any one who lived less than a mile away was required to walk. Each wagon cost from $120 to $150, and carried an average of twenty children.

School buses were first used in September of 1928, and were a great improvement in transportation. Mr. Al Roberts of New Vienna owned the buses. Some buses were driven by high school boys until the State passed a law forbidding this practice.

From horse-drawn wagons of 21 capacities, the buses now have 66 capacities. They are heated in the winter and ventilated in warm seasons. There are 18 buses covering 1200 miles and more than 1000 pupils twice a day.

In 1913, a new building was erected to accommodate the high school students. It cost $36,000 and was built by the same contractor, Charles Wirsing, of Washington C.H. More new bricks were made and burned for the new High School building where the original ones were made.

From the time the building was dedicated in 1905, both the elementary and high school classes were held in the original building, but by 1913, it became necessary to add more rooms. By 1914, the new High School, with an auditorium, a stage, a kitchen, a dining room and manual training room, was erected.

In 1926, a Smith-Hughes Department was added, and a new workshop was built to take care of this department. In 1929, and up-to-date gymnasium was added to the group of impressive buildings.

The beginning of the hot lunch program started in 1921-1922 school year, when a cup of warm food was furnished to go with the pupil’s cold lunch from home.

A Parent Teacher National Organization, with paid membership, was organized in 1922. P.T.A. members met at school and canned fruits and vegetables for the hot lunch program. They also sponsored rabbit suppers, plays, advertisements etc. to support the hot lunch program.

In 1941-1942, the original building, high school and gymnasium were connected with a first floor and basement corridor. The top of the original building, along with the bell tower, were removed to conform to the structure of the High School building.

An extensive remodeling took place when Reesville, whose High School pupils had previously attended Wayne on a tuition basis, joined the school system in 1953. A bond issue of $400,000 was passed to complete the project and the name of the school was changed to Simon Kenton High School

Elementary pupils were assigned to Reesville. New Vienna merged with Simon Kenton for the school year of 1962-1963, and it now became New Kenton.

Sabina made the next move and became part of the school in 1965 when the name was changed to East Clinton, the same name it carries at the present time.

In 1966, a Dollar for Scholars Chapter was organized. The goal of the program is to have individuals or organizations contribute to a fund which will be self supporting. Over 50 students have been given an excess of $30,000 to assist them in seeking a career in their chosen field.

The recipient students who receive assistance are to return an equal amount to the scholarship fund so that future graduates will also have an opportunity for assistance to further their chosen field.

The education for handicapped children is provided for by quality education with the Hopewell Special Education Center in Hillsboro.

Those students preferring vocational training attend the Laurel Oaks Career Development Center at the former Clinton County Air Force Base. At Commencement time, they receive their diplomas from East Clinton High School with others of the graduation class.

East Clinton students are active in many sports. The boys have basketball, baseball, cross country, football, track, and gymnastics. The year 1976 opened the way for girls as well as boys to participate in sports. They have volleyball, basketball, softball, gymnastics, and track.

In 1974, the Booster’s Club bought property adjoining the school grounds for a football field and donated it to the school. The seating capacity is 1000 seats and was erected at a cost of $25,000. In 1977, a locker room with complete facilities was donated for $20,000-also by the Booster’s Club.

The school has done very well in Music Education through the years. Band and orchestra instruction were started in the late twenties. Pupils receive instruction through the fifth grade, if they choose.

The Marching Band has 80 pupils from freshman through seniors in high school. A flag pole was added to the football field by the Booster’s Club in 1975 to assist the band with their exercises. The High School Choir and Concert Band have traveled to many places, and have received many awards

The Dramatics Class consists of Juniors and Seniors. They have two performances a year. The Seniors have their class play in the spring and the Juniors present theirs in the fall

Other organizations include Future Teachers, Future Homemakers, F.H.A., and the National Honor Society, which was organized in 1963.

All the schools contain cafeterias which serve an average total of 1,075 lunches daily. The school district employs 76 class room teachers, three guidance counselors, four administrators, one librarian, two library aides, one speech therapist, one clerk of the board, one half-time clerk secretary, one half-time payroll clerk, one school psychologist, one psychologist aide, four secretaries, four teachers aides, eight custodians, 14 bus drivers, one bus coordinator-mechanic, 10 cooks, one part time dietitian-a total of 134 employees.

Since the opening of the school year in 1905, seventeen men have served as superintendent in the following order: John J. Richeson, C.R. Patterson, O.B. Snyder, W.E. Thompson, C.H. Lewis, H.E. Cromer, M.E. Wilson, Perry Potts, C.A. Devoe, Charles H. Bowl, Elmer Teets, William D. Myers, A.W. Kettlewood, Richard Hart, Joseph Steele, George Greer, and Donald Morrow.

The first graduate of Wayne Township Centralized High School was Ray Morris, who graduated in 1907. Two years of his high school had been completed before school opened. No formal commencement was held at this time, so the first graduating class to hold commencement was in 1909 and was composed of Faye Yankee, Harry Fisher, Thais Tracey, and William Henry.

Every year, including the class of 1977, there has been a graduating class. 2,282 graduates have finished the course of study and are now Alumni of what was originally the Wayne Township Centralized Schools, the first completely centralized school in Ohio.

The schools of Wayne Township, along with those in the added territory that makes up the East Clinton School, have always enjoyed the cooperation and support of its patrons as has been shown over and over by approving bond issues. Booster’s Club issues, and by donations of time and money toward projects for the benefit of the school. They are justly proud of their accomplishments.

Originally published in 1978 in the Wilmington News Journal