Timeline History of Rockport High School

Painting of Rockport High School

 

1857
The Rockport Academy was organized. The building would cost $20,000 which was divided into $20 shares of stock.

Its goal was to graduate young ladies with a full college course, and prepare young men for the higher classes in universities.

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1858
All $20 shares were sold, work began on building.

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1859
The corner stone was set. Placed in the corner stone was a tin box containing a copy of the subscription and association of the academy, a bible, various United States coins, bills of the Mining and Manufacturing Bank of Rockport, and copies of several newspapers.

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1861
The walls were erected of brick.

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1863
The name was changed from Rockport Academy to Rockport Collegiate Institute.

The Rockport Collegiate Institute formally opens in September with 50 students.

Rome Academy in 2005               Professor William Hooper and Wife

Prof. W. S. Hooper, of Rome Academy, Perry County, Indiana, was appointed Principal. One of his assistants was Miss Sue Hooper, sister of the Principal. The photo on the left is Perry County Courthouse, Rome, Indiana, in 2005. This building is similar to the many early schools in the state. The photo on the right is Mr. and Mrs. Hooper.

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1864
Two rooms were ready for use. A piano was purchased for $450, a set of philosophical apparatus purchased for $500.

First term - 87 students; second term - 135 students.

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Rockport Collegiate Institute

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1865
The Institute and grounds were valued at $31,000.

The building was a brick structure, 50 by 70 feet, three stories high, with a large bell-tower on top. It contained eight rooms. Hallways running north and south separated the rooms on the east from those on the west. It faced Walnut Street on the north.

Rockport High School Hall from 1953 Yearbook

The second floor contained two rooms. One a recitation room (possibly Armory Hall which may have been in the Rockport Opera House on Third Street) (In 2015, Armory Hall was found to be located in the IOOF Building at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets in Rockport. Both Armory Hall and the Opera House were used for school events.), and the other a library.

The third floor was a dormitory.

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Painting of Rockport High School

1866
One hundred ninety-seven students enrolled.

A frame addition was built on the west side for a dining room and kitchen.

Rear view of RHS Showing the Cafeteria and Kitchen on the Left.  Photo Courtesy of Jack Robinson.

This rare photo, taken before 1878, shows the south side of R.H.S. Note the kitchen and cafeteria on the left or west side. There are students looking out of the second floor windows.

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Postcard of Seminary School

1867
Hosea Merithew was contacted by school trustees to build Seminary School on what became known as Seminary Street. The one-story building was built for $4,000 and became Rockport's first high school.

A two-story addition was added in 1893. It was torn down around 1957, and is now the site of the Methodist parsonage.

Hosea Merithew was the grandfather of Miss Lillie Peckinpaugh who attended and taught at the school for almost 40 years. Hosea and Arnold Merithew also built the Trinity Methodist Church in 1868 - 1869.

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1868
One hundred sixty-five students were enrolled - tuition was $10 per term.

Two literary societies were formed - Philomatian and Platonian.

The first graduating class of Rockport Collegiate Institute - Maggie Sabin and Betty Veatch.

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1870
One hundred seventy-three students enrolled.

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1871
One hundred sixty-eight students enrolled.

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Rockport Collegiate Institute

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1872
The Institute was in debt for $1,400 which was a mortgage on the building and grounds.

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1873
The Institute had a mortgage of $1,800 and the building and grounds were sold to the Town of Rockport for $9,800.

By this purchase, the Seminary High School was moved to the College Building. The Seminary became the local grade center.

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Painting of Prof. A. H. Kennedy

1878
Prof. A. H. Kennedy, the Edison of Spencer County, became superintendent, a position he held for 11 years. He and his wife lived on the third floor.

The dining room and kitchen addition was torn down.

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1879
The first Rockport High School graduate was Dr. Kate Snyder Busse.

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Rockport High School Around 1916

1881
Alberta Melita Kennedy was born on the third floor.

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1889
Prof. McKnight was named superintendent.

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1893
The course of study was changed from three to four years, so there was no graduating Class of 1894. George Honig was valedictorian of the class.

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1899
Alberta Kennedy graduated and would later teach English and history at Rockport High School.

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Snow Day at Rockport High School

1900
The Washington Building was built on the east side of the campus, which had been drained and cleared. It was to be a four room brick building and cost $5,000. It was used principally for the Domestic Science and Manual Training departments. One room was used as the superintendent's office.

(We are in search of any photos of the building. Some pictures have been found in yearbooks that show the building in the background. If anyone has a photo of it, please contact Raymond Dawson.)

A concrete walk was laid around the college block.

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Rockport High School around 1908

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1912
The 1912 class had the distinction of producing the first senior class play with Mrs. Bess V. Ehrmann as director.

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1915
Goldye Pyle, Class of 1915, wrote the school song.

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1916
The first annual of Rockport High School is put out by the Class of 1916. The back of the book is purple ornamented with an artistic drawing of beech leaves done in gold. The annual is called Beech Leaves, commemorating the beautiful beech on the high school campus. These beeches have been dear to every student's heart in the Rockport High School and help render the annual doubly dear to the hearts of its alumni.

What the Beeches Saw, by Eugenie Strassell, Class of 1916, R.H.S. Beech Leaves 1916. With a comment by Kate Milner Rabb, R.H.S. Class of 1882, author, columnist, and historian.

According to the September 24, 1920, Rockport Democrat, Dale schools organized its first girls basketball team with Eugenia Strassell as coach.

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Rockport High School Rear View in 1917

1917
Rear view of Rockport High School in 1917.

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1921
The Washington Building was on fire for the fourth time in its history. School boys helped in extinguishing the blaze and the damage was not great. It was supposed to have started from a spark falling on the roof.

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Rockport High School - The Rock of Ages, From 1922 Yearbook

1922
The Rock of Ages, rear view from 1922 yearbook.

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Photo of Rockport High School

1924
A gym, stage and classrooms were added to the building. The addition was to cost about $38,000 and contained an auditorium.

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1926
From the Beech Leaves:
The addition, which cost $52,000, made possible many things. It provided new class rooms, a gymnasium and auditorium, indoor toilets, superintendent's office and a girls' rest room. What was once used as a gymnasium is now a well lighted library.

In modern times no school is complete without an auditorium and gymnasium. Our auditorium has a seating capacity of 1,000 and is equipped with the best opera chairs that can be bought. (We believe these were folding chairs--ed.)

The 40 x 22 foot stage has three curtains depicting a home scene, a garden scene, and a city scene. This work was donated by George Honig, well known artist and a former student of R.H.S. There are red, white, and blue lights also and behind the curtains are lockers providing ample space for storing stage equipment.

The basketball playing floor is 70 x 40 feet--that is regulation size.

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1927
Maps made of Rockport High School.

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In 1927, the zebra was adopted as the mascot of the school. The newspaper article said, "when you have seen them in their new suits they will easily show the reason for Zebras".

Go Zebras!

Go Zebras!!!

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1929
Beech Leaves, April 3, 1929, Volume 3, Number 12

School To Have Honor Day

R. H. S. will probably set aside a portion of some day toward the close of school this year for honoring those students who have done worthy achievements during the year and brought honor to the school. Many schools observe such a day at the close of the year, but R. H. S. has never done so before.
Among the awards of honor will be the sweaters and awards and trophies for the athletes, the medals for the Latin contest, and marks of recognition for those who have done outstanding work along scholastic and various other lines.

Junior-Senior Prom To Replace Dance

Instead of having the usual commencement dance, plans are being made for a junior-senior prom. This dance will be strictly invitational. Two of the most popular and prettiest girls from each of the two classes will be chosen and one of these elected as prom queen by those with invitations. A committee has also been appointed to get an orchestra.

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Rockport High School Front View Postcard

1932
Front view from a postcard. The columns have 32 on them. Apparently, they were a gift from the Class of 1932.

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George Honig's Forest College Mural

George Honig's Forest College Mural

1934
George Honig unveils mural of Abe Lincoln's Forest College. The sculpture hung in RHS until the old Kennedy building was torn down. It was moved to Rockport Elementary which is on the old College campus.

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Rockport High School West View in 1938

1938
West side of Rockport High School in 1938. Note the cupola. This field is where the six-man football team practiced. The games were held at the fairgrounds.

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Rockport High School Front View in 1938

Front view in 1938 yearbook.

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Rockport High School

Postcard

 

Rockport High School Northwest View

Northwest View Through the Beeches

 

Rockport High School West View

West View

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1940
The movie below was taken during the 1940's by William R. Miller. It started with a view of the Rockport bluff from the Kentucky side. Next was a homecoming parade on Main Street. Watch for the Hotel and Link's Hardware signs.

Last was the football game at the Fairgrounds. It's believed the opponent was Chrisney High School. Watch for the corn cracker mill on Lake Alda in the background and the bandstand. Halftime entertainment was provided by R.H.S. marching band and cheerleaders.

YouTube video of football game, best quality, 2 1/2 minutes, broadband recommended.

Streaming video of football game, .wmv, 27MB, 2 1/2 minutes, broadband recommended.

Movie of football game, .mpg, 13MB, 2 1/2 minutes, lower resolution, broadband recommended.

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Grandview High School burns in 1943

1943
Grandview High School burns down - some students transferred to Rockport High School for the new school year.

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Photo of Rockport High School 1947

1947
Rockport High School in 1947. Note the car and bicycle rack.

 

Cartoon from 1947 Yearbook, Someday They Will Grow Up

Cartoon from 1947 Yearbook entitled Someday They Will Grow Up showing the fire escape, benches, and lamp posts.

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1949
The yearbook name was changed from Beech Leaves to Retrospect. Miss Lucille Richards was the yearbook sponsor.

The National Honor Society was formed. Pins were funded by the Student Council selling Zebra schedules.

The Letterman's Club was formed.

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1950
April 28, 1950, the Rockport city school board awarded the contract for remodeling the high school to Walter E. Abbott, of Richland, for $57,911.

The seating capacity of the gym was increased to 1,820 and the basketball playing floor is regulation size--78 x 50 feet, overall 90 x 55 feet.

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1951
Newly remodeled gym was dedicated.

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1952 Graduation showing the Washington Building

1952
Graduation with the Washington Building in the background.

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1954
Rockport High School won the basketball sectional for the first, and only time.

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Rockport High School in the Snow

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1955
Rockport City Schools and Ohio Township Schools became the Rockport-Ohio Township School Corporation.

Rockport-Ohio Township Schools integrate high school. Sumner High School, grades 9 and 10, closes and the black students of the community begin attending Rockport High School.

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Rockport High School Graduates 1956

1956
Graduates walking down the north walk. The concrete benches have 28 on them. Apparently, they were a gift from the Class of 1928. One of the two barberry plants is still alive although a tree is growing through it. Unfortunately, the last of the two benches was destroyed by construction workers when Rockport Elementary was renovated in 2007.

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Rockport High School Graduates 1956

1957
New Rockport High School opened on South Fifth Street in January.

Seventh and eighth grades from Silverdale, South Central, and Rockport moved into the old Rockport High School building.

Old Rockport High School building was renamed Kennedy Building in August to reduce confusion between the two buildings.

Rockport-Ohio Township Schools integrate grade schools. Sumner School closes and the black students of the community begin attending the public schools.

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Rockport Elementary

1962
Elementary schools of Silverdale, South Central, and Rockport merged into one newly-constructed elementary school called Rockport-Ohio Township Elementary School located on the Rockport High School campus.

The sunken tennis and basketball courts were filled-in for a parking lot.

The original old Rockport Collegiate Institute building was torn down. An effort was made to find the corner stone, but it could not be located.

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1964
Alberta Kennedy Huffman presented three paintings to Superintendent Paul Dunker at a special convocation in the gym with the entire student body and teachers. One was of the old light plant, one was of her father, Albert Hamilton Kennedy, and the other was of the Rockport Collegiate Institute.

They were done by noted Australian, Don Cowan, who was studying and teaching in Tucson, Arizona.

Albert Kennedy

This painting of Kennedy hangs in the South Spencer County School Board room.

Rockport High School  Rockport Kennedy Waterworks

The above two paintings are hanging in the
South Spencer County School Corporation superintendent's office.

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Luce Township High School

1965
January 2 - Reorganization: The school districts of Luce Township, southern Hammond Township, and Ohio Township formed the South Spencer County School Corporation.

Luce Township High School and Rockport High School formed South Spencer High School in the fall of 1965. The first South Spencer High School class graduated in 1966. Classes were held in the high school building on Fifth Street.

There were two junior high schools: Harris Junior High School at Richland and Rockport Junior High School in the old Kennedy Building.

There were three elementary schools: Grandview Elementary, Rockport Elementary, and Luce Elementary. Grandview Elementary closed in 1972.

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South Spencer High School

1975
New South Spencer High School completed in Reo.

Harris Junior High in Richland and Rockport Junior High moved into the high school building on South Fifth Street.

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R.H.S. in 1979 Before Destruction

1980
Last part of the Kennedy Building--the old Rockport High School--was demolished. Limestone carving at the top of the building read 1924. The carving above the door said Rockport High School.

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1997
Melita Kennedy, an Ohioan living in California, e-mailed to say A. H. Kennedy was her great-grandfather. She didn't know he was a superintendent. Her father only told her that he was an educator.

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2005
In 2004, a member of the Spencer County Historical Society spearheaded an effort to rebuild the second column at the entrance to R.H.S. Alumni from Rockport High School contributed and it was completed in August, 2005.

The left column, donated by the Class of 1932, and a bench from the Class of 1928 is all that remains of the original campus.

Columns at Entrance to RHS in 2005Columns at Entrance to RHS in 2005

Left Plaque

Right Plaque

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2007
In May, 2007, renovations on Luce and Rockport Elementary schools began. At Rockport, the workers uncovered the foundation of the west wall of the college building. This is where it connected to the 1924 addition.

Rockport High School Foundation

Renovations being made to the back of Rockport Elementary in May, 2007. The foundation showing is sandstone and is believed to be from the old 1865 Collegiate Institute.

 

Rockport High School Foundation

Another view of the foundation. This shows a right angle. It is unknown what this angle represents.

 

Rockport High School Foundation

This photo shows the old columns at the end of the walk that led to the entrance to the old college building. Greenwood Avenue "T's" into Walnut Street in the background. A new road from the parking lot will run into Greenwood Avenue.

A measurement was taken from the walk to the foundation. It matches the width, 70 feet, of the Collegiate Institute building described in History of Warrick, Spencer and Perry Counties, Indiana and is believed to be the west wall.

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Washington Building Foundation

2007
This photo was taken June 21, 2007 from the corner of Sixth Street and Walnut Street looking southwest. Excavation revealed the foundation of the Washington Building built in 1900. The foundation is to the left of the dirt ramp in the image. Note the bricks stacked in the foreground. They lined the sidewalk along Walnut Street. The newer concrete sidewalk has been removed at the right.

 

Washington Building Foundation

This photo has lines to show the location of the foundation. It was made of several layers of brick. The building had an irregular shape and the foundation was not entirely exposed during the excavation. Measurements were taken of the exposed wall and were approximately 40 feet by 50 feet.

 

Washington Building Foundation

This photo has lines to show the location of the foundation. The picture was taken facing Sixth Street. The whitish area is the location of the building. The black area to the south is probably coal or ash from the furnace that heated the building.

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2013

Rockport High School Columns in 2013

This photo taken January 31, 2013 shows the columns of the old Rockport Collegiate Institute. Only the left column is original. The lights are nonfunctioning reproductions.

Rockport High School Columns in 2013

This picture shows what is believed to be the last of the original barberry plants. Two flanked the sidewalk some distance up from the 1928 benches. A tree is growing in the middle of the barberry. Both 1928 benches are gone, the last destroyed by construction in 2007. The concrete bench in the photo is a newer production.

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Historical Information

Selection from History of Warrick, Spencer and Perry Counties, Indiana, Goodspeed, 1885.

Selection from History of the Academies of Indiana, by John Hardin Thomas, 1914 Master Thesis, Indiana University.

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