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Looking Back: A New School

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Most students throughout North Central Washington returned to their classrooms today to begin a new school year.

Let's look back to the start of the school year in the fall of 1962 and the opening of the new Orchard Junior High School.

I read through the soft-cover book, "History of the Wenatchee Public Schools," by Carolyn Sterling, to get some background on Orchard and the junior high school that preceded it.

Orchard Junior High School was located along the street for which it was named. The property was purchased by the School District in 1953 from Walter and Claire Malloy, C.E. and Naomi Chase, Duncan and Alma McQuaig, and later, in 1960, from Herbert and Genevieve Cheever. The cost for all was about $52,000.

The school was built during 1961-62 at a total cost of about $1.1 million.

With Lawrence Mead as principal, the faculty and students of H.B. Ellison Junior High School were moved out of the Senior High School building and into the new facility in the fall of 1962. Dedication took place in November.

The first student body officers at Orchard are shown in the photo. President Glenn Isaacson and Jill Yetter, treasurer, were moving trophies from H.B. Ellison into the new display case at Orchard. In the background were, Sue Westerberg, secretary, left, and Chris Shamberger, vice president.

During an assembly held on Oct. 2, Paul Pugh, student body advisor, presented the last group of officers from H.B. Ellison, who administered the oath of office to Orchard's new student body leaders. And so the transition was complete.

But let's jump back a bit further to H.B. Ellison Junior High School.

Plans for a junior high school were started in late 1927. Feasibility of placing the building on the same site with the Senior High School was discussed at length. By the middle of 1928, local architect L. Solberg was hired and a bond issue was voted on that fall. Construction soon followed in 1929.

H.B. Ellison, who was principal at Whitman School, was brought over to be the first principal of the new junior high school (named in his honor) for 1929-30. He served in that position until his death in 1937.

After the move to Orchard, the space vacated by H.B. Ellison became part of the Senior High School.

For those of you that attended Pioneer Junior High School, I haven't forgotten its past.

In the early 1950s, it became evident that the Senior High School building could no longer house two schools (H.B. Ellison and the high school).

After much discussion, planning began for what would become Pioneer Junior High School, which opened for the 1957-58 school year.

Did you attend H.B. Ellison Junior High School? What are your early day memories of Wenatchee's junior high schools?

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