4 girls
Charlotte Ratcliffe, Isabel Gottschalk, Kay Johnston and Gloria Sampson train to operate as messengers during blackouts and air raids, November, 1941.
World War II begins
2 men

At the outbreak of WW2, two students from the class of 1942, Alva Jefferson and Stuart Bell, left their classes and enlisted, Jefferson in the marines and Bell in the Army. Jefferson, who received a presidential citation and four stars, served as a marine in the Pacific.

Amid complaints by the armed services that the youth of America were “soft”, U-High students began having gym classes 3 days a week with a greater focus on calisthenics, tumbling, track and obstacle courses.

students exercise
The conflict hits home

“Although there were all kinds of paper drives, collection of rubber, war bond drives, etc., it didn’t quite strike home until we saw our “Joe’s” (including those pictured below) march off to war, leaving school before graduation in order to fight for our country.” -The Clarion, 1945

1945 servicemen: Don Cushman, Navy; Ralph Bankert, Army Air Corps, Richard Metcalf, Navy Medical Corps, Ted Weldon, Navy Air Corps, Bill Johnston, Navy, Ed Cross, Army, Bruce Burris, Navy, Paul Purinton, Army, Don Fuller, Army, Dean Creager, Army.
School continues…
students in chemistry
Students work in a laboratory classroom, 1942.
girls walking
Students exit U-High, 1942.
War bulletin urges English teachers to promote savings

The National Council of English Teachers urges English classes to promote a greater understanding of the War Finance Program. Specific lesson questions include “What can we do to give more help on the home front?”, “Why should we buy War Stamps and Bonds?”, and “What are we fighting for?”.

Serving aboard an aircraft carrier
Robert Erdman

Robert Erdman, ’32, was a dental officer on the aircraft carrier Atlanta in November, 1942, when it was attacked by Japanese ships (the ship sunk the next day). Described as “stately as a deer with antlers” in the Clarion, Erdman had been an active U-High student, participating in Rostrum, Cramatic Club and the Boys Glee Club among others.

First-hand view at Luzon, Owo Jima, Tokyo Bay
Richard Osner, ’41

Richard “Bits” Osner, class of 1941, was on the USS Yorktown in the south China sea as it struck Luzon, Canton, Hong Kong and Formosa. Later on, he was part of the force that struck Iwo Jima and Tokyo Bay.

Prisoner of War
Robert Hall

Robert Hall, ’34, joined the Canadian Air Force in 1942 and piloted a Halifax bomber.

He was reported missing in 1944 and was a prisoner of war in Germany for a year before being released.

John Blum

John Blum, Class of ’37, was killed when his ship, a minesweeper, was destroyed in January, 1945. Blum had been very involved at U-High, participating in Rostrum, Apportionment Board, Glee Club, Student Council, the Clarion and more.

At least 21 former U-High students died in the war:
  • John Blum
  • James Finley
  • Robert Hildebrandt
  • Alfred Gierman
  • Eugene Millard
  • Donald Ward
  • William Reed Yates
  • Robert Turner
  • Harold Adamson
  • Eugene Blake
  • Charles Coffin
  • Thomas Dole
  • Frank Floege
  • Raymond Doran
  • John Fultz
  • William George Mercer
  • Edwin Sipowsky
  • Earl Spiker
  • Harold Thompson
  • Warren Warmoth
  • Allen Parlor
Sgt. Samuel Kuntz

Technical Sgt. Samuel Kuntz Jr., ’41, was the radio operator and gunner on a B-17 plane which was hit by flak during a mission over Regensburg Germany in 1944. Kuntz was killed when the plane went down in the English Channel.

John Wroan attends U-High

Wroan, who’s construction company would build the current U-High building in the 1960’s, joined approximately 350 other students in attendance. Lockers were in the basement of Old Main, classes were in various buildings on campus, football practice was in the “cabbage patch” (behind where Thomas Metcalf is now), and games were at McCormick Field (where the South University Street Parking Garage is located).

Future Pilots design, build and operate link trainer
David Brazelton sits in the cockpit

In 1943, as part of a freshman shop course, Professor W. W. Dragoo had students design, create and build a Link trainer, the type used to train pilots in the army and navy service camps. The trainer is equipped with controls that make it maneuverable on very finely balanced pivots. The trainer includes a radio with a 25 foot range.

David Brazelton, at the controls above, described the experience once the hood was closed. “After being twirled around, I lost all sense of direction,” he said. “Then I had difficulty finding the proper wave length on the radio.”

Thomas Barger, 1929 Clarion
Teacher Thomas Barger retires after 30 years

Barger was a beloved instructor of physics and chemistry; in 1929, the first volume of the Clarion was dedicated to him. Barger also coached baseball. The Thomas M. Barger Family Endowed Scholarship Award, given annually to U-High students, was set up in his honor.

Vocational civics course starts, designed to help teens choose careers
nursing students

Nursing is the first choice of most girls, followed by stenographic work, commercial art and journalism. For boys, teaching and coaching are the most popular, followed by engineering, machinists and farming.

Students are provided current occupation descriptions, then tested to help them analyze their interests and abilities.

Teacher Ella Leppert thought more students would be interested in the “glamorous” professions such as air stewardess or pilot, but few students have shown interest in those careers.

Burton Mercier and Mary Lou Stover at the St. Patrick’s Day Cotillion at Cook Hall, 1945.
school id
School id, 1946
U-High begins using recordings

Dictaphones are brought into the classroom to teach foreign languages.

“Pioneers” becomes school nickname

Up to this point in time the football team was simply referred to as the “O’Connor Men” or “The Green and Gold”. The name “Pioneers” was suggested by student Irving Tick ’46, and accepted by the student body by a vote of 4-1.

From The Clarionette, 1946
How it was
  • US population: 141,389,000
  • 3-Bedroom Home: $5600
  • Average income: $2000
  • Price of a New Ford: $846
  • Gasoline gallon: $.21
homecoming court
class night program
Class Night Program, 1946

“The festivities started at noon with a swell pep session in the boy’s gym in Metcalf. At 2:30, everyone rushed out of the building and made a beeline for McCormick Field. There were already people crowding around the stand where the junior class were trying to get cases of Dr. Pepper and boxes of candy opened to sell”. Read More

Clarise Parker
Clarise Parker
Student Clarise Parker writes the U-High hymn

Entering a contest to adopt a school hymn, Clarise’s entry emerged as the winner after voting by students. It was first sung in 1948 and continues to be sung to this day.

Proudly hail our Alma Mater.
To her e’er be true.
Sing her praise in mighty chorus,
land and glory too.
Cheer the team.
Support its standards.
Back the Pioneers.
Gladly say that you’re from U-High.
Uphold her through the years.

School Hymn
school hymn

“U-High, without a building of its own since its establishment, may have a home soon. Gov. Adlai Stevenson recently signed a bill that includes a plan for a new high school.”

The Pantagraph, Aug. 28, 1949
Rostrum debate