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Moments in History

We begin with words from the first Crusader recording the foundations of Southeast traditions. The names chosen for the student council, clubs and organizations, yearbook and newspaper have endured over the decades. Scarlet and royal blue have been the school colors from the beginning, and the original Knightlites show was presented during that first year.  We hope you enjoy this "Moment in History" from the first Knights and Ladies. 

Below this introductory article, you will find additional "Moments in History."

1939 - From the Pages of the Crusader

The First Year

The knights of old were an organized body of men pledged to service, bravery, and loyalty under one sovereign, who honored them for those characteristics.

To be a knight was a great adventure, an opportunity to win honor and praise through heroism and brave deeds, an occasion to portray a fine example, and a chance to establish new ideals for the code of honor.

We students of Southeast High School are an organized body under a principal, and we have an opportunity to win praise by thinking and doing new things.

As young adventuresome students we are proud and happy to have been in such a beautiful new school building which is the pride and joy of the whole city. We have started everything with a clean record. It has been a real pleasure to make the first footsteps in the corridors of our school.

Two years ago, work was started on our building and on June 4, 1937, the cornerstone was laid. It contains a list of names of the members of the Board of Education, the annual report of the secretary and treasurer of the Board of Education, as well as that of the superintendent of schools, a copy of the rules and regulations of the school district, a copy of the daily newspapers, and a short history of the site and of the construction of the building.

The following members of the Board of Education: Mr. Wallace Sutherland, President; Miss Annette Moore, Vice-President; Mr. George C. Tinker, Secretary; Mr. Ira S. Gardner, Mr. A.O. Thompson, Mr. Ludwig Graves, and Mr. Frank Dorsey along with Mr. George Melcher, Superintendent, and Mr. John L. Shouse, Assistant Superintendent, made talks at the ceremony.

We are grateful to Messrs. Wight and Wight, architects; to Mr. Nate W. Downs, mechanical engineer; and to Messrs. Kaiser and Ducet, the general contractors; for the splendid and commodious building which they have provided for us.

The building cost $900,000 and it has ample space and equipment to accommodate 1,200 students. There is a locker capacity of 952. Space is reserved for the addition of more rooms, a boys’ gymnasium, a swimming pool, and an addition to the library, when the student body becomes sufficiently large.

Southeast is proud of its beautiful library. While it is a branch of the Kansas City Public Library, we consider it as ours since it is housed in our building.

It has every type of book that anyone could desire. Teachers send their pupils to the library to look up reference material and the students also go there for recreational reading.

Our library is the only one in Kansas City that has murals on its walls. These paintings were supervised by Mr. Wilber E. Phillips. They are pictures taken from some of Mark Twain’s stories, as this library was formerly a Mark Twain Branch and Mark Twain was one of the famous Missouri writers.

Our auditorium is simple but beautiful and while it does not have a balcony, a space is reserved for that purpose.

There is a seating capacity of 1,091 people and on the first day of school at the opening assembly, every seat was occupied.

The public address system which is located in the office of our building is the only one in any Kansas City school. Mr. Bryan used this public address system every day when making announcements and stating the procedures for the day. It was far more convenient than sending messengers around to every room, which is the custom in most schools. Through this system a chime, instead of the usual ringing of harsh bells, was used to dismiss classes.

The public address system is equipped so that regular radio programs can be tuned into any or all of the rooms; consequently, history classes listened to the President’s speech to Congress, to an address given by Prime Minister Chamberlin of England, and to an address made by Adolf Hitler, Dictator of Germany. The science department listened to various programs which explained different scientific theories and facts.

Mr. J.G. Bryan, our principal, is the only high-school principal, in Kansas City, who does not have a vice-principal. This is true because the Board of Education did not expect such a large enrollment during the first year of the school’s existence.

While Mr. Bryan has been compelled to do the work of two people, he has done remarkably well at his tremendous task, and the school has succeeded as a result of his efforts.

Mr. Bryan is very popular with both the faculty and the student body as he has a very agreeable manner. He is always anxious and willing to see the students’ point of view on any question and to give them advice.

Mr. Bryan had previously been vice-principal at Southwest and at East High Schools. Southeast is fortunate in having such a man as administrator.

Miss Ruth Robinson, our registrar and general office clerk, has come very nearly being a vice-principal for our school as she has had the responsibility generally assigned to two or more people.

This is the third school in which Miss Robinson has been the first registrar. She came to Southeast from East High School where she previously was employed with Mr. Bryan. Since she and Mr. Bryan had experience in working together, the affairs of the school have been conducted in an exceedingly efficient manner.

Miss Robinson, who possesses a cheerful disposition, always has a smile for everyone and she flashes her attractive dimples at all with whom she comes in contact.

Six capable senior girls, who were chosen to assist in the office during their study hall period, did their work cheerfully and without any kind of pay except the experience which they received. They were: June McCallum, Mildred Longfellow, Peggy Cooperider, Jennie Wilhelmsen, Sue Janzen, and Jeannette Wasserman.

Miss Minnie E. Dingee, the counselor, is a very necessary and accommodating personage who is ever in demand about our school. It is she who advises the students in regard to their high-school courses and she helps them to make a college choice. She not only aids them to arrange their educational program, but she also assists them to prepare for the profitable use of their leisure time. She often provides ways for the less fortunate pupil to earn his expenses while attending school.

Miss Oleeda Mall has been our school nurse. Unfortunately, she was unable to be in our school all of each day as her time was divided between Southeast High School and the Pinkerton Grade School.

The first Southeast faculty, selected from the different schools in the city, have served the school efficiently and well, and they have been liked by the students.

All of these high-school teachers have spent many years in colleges and in universities in order to acquire a degree in the subject or subjects which they are teaching. To these teachers school is never over because they are constantly reading and studying to make themselves more capable and efficient so that they may be of greater assistance to the pupils in their classes.

As each club is required to have a faculty adviser, the teachers have given freely of their time to help the clubs to function and to operate as they should.

Clubs were organized to carry out the activities in which the students are interested. The Girl Reserves, which were the first to organize, got their start during the first few weeks of school. Clubs were organized which promoted photography, languages, entertainment, and art.

We all enjoyed the assemblies planned for us by Miss Latshaw, Miss Hayden, and Mr. Markley. At our first assembly, held on the opening day of school, short talks were made by some of the members of the Board of Education. Since then, other prominent people about Kansas City have given talks on subjects which have been interesting to everyone. Dr. Burris A. Jenkins gave a patriotic speck, Bishop Nelson Spencer used for his talk the intriguing title of “Black Magic on White Paper,” H. Roe Bartle, the Boy Scout Executive for Kansas City, spoke on “Thank God for America,” Fredrick Tom, a representative of the Future Farmers of America Club in Hawaii, talked about the different customs and affairs of his country. The Kansas University and Central College bands presented enjoyable concerts. Several of the departments of the school presented excerpts of their work.

The first big issues brought before the student body of Southeast High School were the problems of what to call ourselves, what to call our school paper, what to call our school annual, and what to choose for our school colors. The student body decided that we should call ourselves the Knights, our paper “The Southeast Tower,” our annual “The Crusader,” and our school colors were to be Scarlet and Royal Blue.

The Southeast Tower, the school newspaper, has worked diligently in order to give an accurate account of all student activities as well as the current gossip of the school. Because Miss Mueller, the Tower adviser, did not think that there were enough students in the class who had had previous experience, a staff for the first semester was not chosen, until late.

Our Student Council, very appropriately called The Student Round Table, has proved to be very successful. It has sponsored mixers and other school activities, and it was responsible for the purchasing of a Christmas tree and its decorations, which afforded Christmas cheer to the entire school.

The Crusader Staff is another group that should be commended. In publishing this annual it has tried to institute a modest year book that would hold the memories of the school. It is our “memozine” since it is a memory book published in magazine form.

When Southeast High School opened last fall, Mr. B.E. Markley came to Kansas City from Harper, Kansas, as our first music instructor.

Almost immediately a band was organized with a membership of fifty pieces with Mr. Markley as its director. In order that the band might gain experience as well as practice, they played for assemblies and football games.

Along with the band, an orchestra was organized and these musicians also spent many hours in practice. They played for assemblies and other school entertainments.

Still another group directed by Mr. Markley was the A Cappella Choir. This group sang for assemblies and gave several programs outside of the school.

The fall play, “Growing Pains,” was the first event of the school to make money for the general school fund. It was presented on two nights and there was a full house both nights. It was a humorous play and one that interested the student body. Instead of having a senior play, we had a spring play. “Bab” was presented on one night and to a big crowd.

We thought that we had students whose names might at some future time be seen on the lights of Broadway, so in order to be ahead of Broadway, we had a “Knightlites” program. Many people from outside the school came to see this program which was exceptionally well given. Following the program, a dance sponsored by the Parent-Teacher Association, was held in the gymnasium. The money from this program was used to buy new instruments and uniforms for the band.

Our Parent-Teacher Association got its start early in the fall. At the first meeting, Mrs. J.W. Storms, Jr., was appointed as temporary chairman. Later they elected Mr. George Peterson, a member of the Southeast faculty, as president. Mr. Peterson is probably the only president of a school P.-T.A. who is a member of a faculty. The P.-T.A. has worked along with the school in many of its activities.

Southeast can well be proud of the advancements and achievements of its first year. May the future knights of Southeast advance nobly.

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