THE SCHOOL BELL
Happy Birthday Tomah High School!
On Sunday, May 7, 1967, school officials held a dedication and open house for Tomah Senior High School. Mr. Victor Breitenfield, the President of the Board of Education welcomed the community to the event. Mr. K.A. Curran, Superintendent of Schools, introduced the platform of guests which included the building’s architect, Mr. Donn Hougen, the Senior High School Principal, Mr. William H. Graham, and the Deputy State Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Archie H. Buchmiller. Tomah Senior High School was opened in August of 1966 so its first graduating class, the Class of 1967, was nearing the end of its high school career when the building was finally ready to have a public showing.
The original program for the Tomah Senior High School dedication and open house contains interesting information and pictures on the floor plans, construction, and costs of the building. The building site of 26 acres cost $27,000. The area of the building was 162,900 square feet. With the total cost of the project $2,378,881.64, the cost per square foot was $14.60. That’s quite a bargain! From a quick search on the Internet, it seems that an average cost per square foot today for home construction is approximately $125.00. I think our community will be proud of how well-maintained and attractive Tomah High School is after fifty years of wear and tear and significant use.
As I reviewed the list of faculty members in the 1967 dedication/open house program, there were many familiar names. My first year in Tomah was the 1980-81 school year. I was hired as a social studies teacher at Tomah Senior High School and the building was then 14 years old. I worked with Mr. Dade (geography), Mr. Dedie (world history), Mr. Gatzke (athletic director and phy.ed.-boys), Mrs. Graewin (English), Mr.Mellin (band), Mr. Pedersen (social problems), Mr. Richmond (English), Mr. Smith (biology), Mrs. Walker (librarian), and Mr. Spies (football coach). I’m sure many of you who graduated from Tomah Senior High School recall these influential and respected educators!
This year, Sunday, May 7, 2017, will mark the 50th anniversary of the dedication and first open house of Tomah Senior High School. We are welcoming our community back to the building on May 7 to enjoy another opportunity to view the building. Today, Tomah Senior High School is called Tomah High School as freshman students were moved to the facility at the start of the 1995-96 school year when an addition onto the building was completed and the mascot of the Tomah Indians has been replaced with the Tomah Timberwolves. The Class of 2017 is the fifty-first graduating class from the current high school building. We have begun the second half of a century educating students in this building. For those alumni who visit Tomah High School on May 7, 2017, there will be familiarity with their alma mater, but they will also see changes from their time in the building. Change must be expected and welcomed. If we were educating the Class of 2017 just as we had educated the Class of 1967, we would be in serious trouble. We would not be serving the current needs of our students, our community, or our society.
On May 7, 2017, we will present information on a new Distinguished Alumni Program that will allow us to recognize and honor the accomplishments of our alumni. Many individuals have graduated from the current high school building who have made significant contributions in their chosen career areas. They have thrived locally, nationally, and globally. It is time that we begin to recognize the accomplishments of our graduates to motivate and inspire our current students. We will be providing information on how to nominate Tomah alumni for this honor at our May 7 Open House. I can’t think of a better birthday present for Tomah High School than the gift of recognizing the success of the students who have walked in her hallowed hallways!
If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at email@example.com or 374-7002.