The history of Arnett schools is a very well kept “secret.” but it all started in 1901. Each year and each class have their own uniqueness. Most will forever be forgotten, but hopefully, a few of the things that have made Arnett Schools what they are will never be forgotten.
The location of the first school here was near the corner where one turns to Gage. The Arnett Creamery was later built on this location, and I believe now it is torn down.
For the first six years of our history, it was School District No. 27, but it was changed to No. 70 when Oklahoma became a state and the county name was changed from Day County to Ellis County. The first graduating class was in 1920, and it consisted of only two twin sisters, Edith and Edna Shaffer. The commencement exercises held in the Christian Church on Thursday, May 20, 1920.
In 1920-1921 there were about forty-five or fifty people enrolled in the ninth through twelfth grades. The main problem was that there were only two high school teachers and four elementary teachers. That year one person wrote down how they had the old style of desks with an inkwell in the upper right-hand corner. Also “The Prairie Dog,” the first school paper, was printed that year.
The class of 1926 was another unique class because they were all girls. The most impressive thing that I got out of this class was that they took in $95 in the Senior Play, and that was by charging twenty-five cents for children, thirty-five cents for adults, and fifty cents for seats in the courtroom. This was also the first year for the Junior-Senior Banquet. (In 1934 and ‘35 it was written down how they were initiated, and they did not get into trouble.)
Later on, the class of 1950-51 introduced the parent-flower ceremony which is still being used. Their class number was 23, so the numbers were actually larger back then than they are now. Eight years later the seniors class had 31 graduates and was the largest at the time.
I believe the biggest class ever was the class of 1971 and they had about 43. This year I have heard that they are the smallest graduating class ever with 11. Ten of those have been in school together since kindergarten. Most of the rest are well known and hopefully never forgotten.
-Cody Freeman Class of 1997
In 1901 the school district No. 27 was organized and the description is as follows: “Beginning at a point where Range line between Range 24 and 25 intersect the north, line of Day County, thence east 3 miles; thence south to the ½ section corner between sections 15 and 16, thence west 3 miles; thence north to the point of beginning.” This was the first beginning of schools here.
When Oklahoma became a state in 1907 and Day County was renamed Ellis County, the school district number was changed from No. 27 to No. 70.
The senior class of 1920 consisted of Misses Edith and Edna Chaffer, twin sisters, and the only graduates.
The old school building was located west of town, where the road turns to Gage. this later was replaced by Arnett Creamery.
The Arnett High School in 1920-21 was not very large, probably 45 or 50 enrolled in all 4 grades. There were 2 teachers in high school and 4 in elementary school. The Arnett High School published its first school paper this school year. They named it “The Prairie Dog.”
The class of 1926 was an all-girl group. The senior play that year was “Bashful Mr. Bobbs” and charged twenty-five cent admission for children and thirty-five cents for adults and fifty cents for seats in the courtroom.
Nineteen twenty-six was the first year Arnett High ever had a Junior-Senior banquet. It was held in the northeast room upstairs in the old school building.
Elizabeth Bayless Rouse can recall from 1929-1930:
“There were many country schools yet, that hadn’t consolidated so when the students
were ready to go to high school, the ones from over Harmon way, south and west of town
came to Arnett to school. They rented rooms in homes or some worked for their room
and board. Our school buses were homemade out of wooden siding and window glass.
They had a bench on each side and a double one down the middle and we sat facing each
other. One incident concerning our school that I’ll never forget happened on the Clint
Shaffer corner. The bus was hit by a car and overturned. The top split open and children
and lunches spilled out all over everywhere.”
The graduation exercises of 1951 started a tradition that seniors of Arnett still follow. The class of 1951 started the parent-flower ceremony.
Arnett High School Superintendents and Principals
1908-1909 Mr. A. Squire, Superintendent
1910-1911 Mr. M. E. Haner, Superintendent
1911-1912 Mr. M. E. Haner, Superintendent
1912-1914 No records recorded
1914-1915 Mr. R. L. Seaton, Superintendent
1916-1917 Mr. R. L. Seaton, Superintendent
1918-1919 Mr. Lloyd Laughlin, Superintendent
Mr. J. Hunt, Principal
1920-1921 Mr. D. C. Mosshart, Superintendent
1921-1922 Mr. D. C. Mosshart, Superintendent
1922-1923 Mr. D. C. Mosshart, Superintendent
Mr. C. K. Oshel, Principal
1923-1924 Mr. G. E. Hallen, Superintendent
Mr. George A. Miller, Principal
1924-1925 Mr. Theo Yarbrough, Superintendent
Mr. Wick Beckham, Principal
1926-1927 Mr. Theo Yarbrough, Superintendent
1928-1929 Mr. Theo Yarbrough, Superintendent
1929-1930 Mr. Foster, Superintendent
Mr. Woodruff, Principal
1930-1931 Mr. Woodruff, Superintendent
1931-1932 Not recorded
1933-1934 Mr. Nat Taylor, Superintendent
1934-1935 Mr. Watkins, Superintendent
1935-1936 Mr. Watkins, Superintendent
1936 Mr. Watkins (He passed away Nov. 30)
Mr. Funk finished the term, Superintendent
1937-1940 Mr. Cossey, Superintendent
1940-1950 Mr. Ernest Hunter, Superintendent
1951-1957 Mr. D. D. Creech, Superintendent
1958-1965 Mr. Gerald K. Chaffin, Superintendent
Mr. Acy Woods, Principal
1965-1967 Mr. John H. Whipple, Superintendent
Mr. Ronald Hodges, Principal
1967-1968 Mr. Ronald Hodges, Superintendent (2nd semester)
1968-1973 Mr. Ronald Hodges, Superintendent
Mr. Donald Hennigh, Principal
1973-1975 Mr. Ronald Hodges, Superintendent
Mr. Rex Coram, Principal
1975-1976 Mr. Larry Ellison, Superintendent
Mr. Rex Coram, Principal