Many of the changes that have occurred in Coeur d'Alene High School have been because of the population growth that has been characteristic of this area since the very beginning. This growth has occurred sometimes steadily, sometimes in spurts, but has been an important factor in the decision of where to house the students.
It is believed to be in 1903 that the first two seniors "graduated" from the Coeur d'Alene City Schools. These two were transferred in from other places. Standard course requirements were set up in 1905. The number of graduates grew slightly for the next few years, and in 1909 the number of seniors was nine, with eight of them graduation. In 1918 there were 39 in the graduation class. During the '20's the number was a bit erratic, beginning with a low of 42, to a very startling high of 76, but then still a but unsteady with the class of '25 graduation 79, the all-time high to that date. The next years saw classes of 53 and 74, with slight increases after that.
The increase continued into the '30's. The class of '33 graduated 133 students, and the class of 1936 gave diplomas to 150. School enrollment in the '40's was a bit erratic because of World War II, but the overall was increasing. In 1941 CHS graduates numbered a staggering 167. Probably due to the fact that many young people chose to enter the service in lieu of graduating from high school, in 1942 the number of graduates was down to 143, in '43 was 134. In 1944 it hit a very low 101 where it stayed with slight differences during the war. Returning servicemen in 1947 increased the number to 129, and the number then leveled out around 120 for the rest of the decade.
The '50's saw the ever-present increase. The graduating class of that decade began at 125 and with the exception of '56 which had a very strange low of 114, increased to 174 in 1959.
The graduating class of 1961 broke the 200 mark for the first time, with 239. The decade continued with a steady growth and closed with 341 graduates in 1969. The '70's began with 330 graduates and also built steadily until 1979 when diplomas were handed out to 450. This trend continued into the '80's when the 500 mark was broken four times, 1981 with 510, 1982 with that 524. The late '80's averaged just short of the 500 mark. Since then enrollment seems to have leveled off with approximately 400 graduating seniors each year.
Location of Graduation Exercises
It is not known where the very early commencements exercises were held, or even if there were such ceremonies. It is believed that the graduations during the teens and 20's were held in the study hall which doubled as an auditorium when the need arose. At that time attendance at graduation was limited to members of the family. When the new addition to the high school building was completed in 1925, graduation exercises were held in that auditorium for quite a few years until it too, was outgrown.
In 1941, '42 and '43 the commencement was held in the Civic Auditorium. This was f fine facility located in the downtown city park. Unfortunately, during WWII, a "crazy" sailor from Farragut Naval Training Station was responsible for burning it has not been rebuilt.
Graduation was then held at the high school auditorium the following year and for some years after that until over crowdedness forced another change. North Idaho Junior College gymnasium/auditorium was host to CHS graduating seniors, only to be taken down again when the weather turned inclement. A creative answer to this problem was found when Greyhound Park became the host to the CHS graduation class in 1989 and the next few years. Since the opening of Lake City High School, graduation has taken place here on our campus in the gymnasium.
*O.R. Shern 1906 -
*A.C. Davis 1909 -
*J.V. Buck 1916 -
*B.M. George 1918 -
*Henry J. Schmidtke 1924 -
G.O. Phippeny 1930 - 1941
Harlow H. Campbell 1941 - 1945
Harold J. Evans 1945 - 1966
Robert H. "Bob" Jones 1966 - 1976
Wally Pfeiffer 1976 - 1978
Doug Cresswell 1978 - 1983
Gerry Walseth 1983 - 1988
Warren Toney 1988 - 1989
John Brumley 1989 - 1993
Steve Casey 1994 - 2006
Randy Russell 2007 - 2011
Warren Olsen 2011
*The writers are not sure of the exact years of service of the early principals.
Because of the phenomenal growth Coeur d'Alene experienced from 1903 - 1910, the first high school at Seventh and Wallace was useful only for a few years. It reverted to being used solely for lower grades and then burned down in 1927. The stately and beautiful separate high school built on Seventh and Montana was used form 1910 until the fall of 1954 as a high school, then as a junior high until 1975, totaling 65 years of proud service. It stood sadly vacant, its windows boarded up, for a few years. Some of its contents were sold at a public auction. The Building was then sold to the city of Coeur d'Alene for use as a community center. After a brief period of a few years, when that did not work out, it was demolished. The old school yard in now a city park. The sound of children playing blends with the echoes of students of the past whispering class, laughing too loud in the hallways, yelling to loud at ball games.
The building at Fifteenth and Hastings which now serves as Lakes Middle School was the last building to serve as the high school previous to the opening of the building on Fourth and Dalton. This coming year CHS will undergo a remodel that will include update to the office, enclosing/joining outside buildings, adding to the athletic complex, and revamping the cafeteria/auditorium area.
The first of the teachers are mostly gone now, some just retired, but many have passed on, As have many of the students. Their memory remains. G.O. Phippeny is the name on the plaque at the corner of the city park at Seventh and Montana. But other names stand out also: Shern, Coy, McIntyre, Shadduck, Egbers, Evans, Harding, Barlow, Jordan, Haakenson, Fahringer, Burns, Terris, Boughton, Flynn, Nipp, Lundblad, Anderl, Narcisian, Reese, Amende, Moffat, Cresswell, Christianson, Friesz, Reed, Bourne, Drake, Rasmussen, Schwenke, Reiswig, Benner, Everson, Brumley, and the list goes on. The CHS honor roll is long, But is is one that time cannot erase.
by Connie House, teacher at CHS from 1971 - 1991 and by Maxine Nelson, CHS '38 and former teacher at Coeur d'Alene High school; July 31, 1993.
Presented to the CHS graduating classes of 1920 - 42 for their "all-class" reunion by the Kootenai County Retired Teachers Association and Coeur d'Alene School District.