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Friendship High / Grade School

Friendship High/Grade School

A Look at the School That Played a Role in Friendship History


By Harry Davis

Who can pass by any older style school building and not become nostalgic thinking of their own school days, school companions and all the students who passed through those hallways?  Former Friendship Grade students and faculty held a reunion on May 26, 2007 and looked back at the Friendship High School/Grade School history prompting the original writing and publication of this article.


Before 1914


 Nostalgia for old schools is not new.  Here is a verse from a poem on the subject written in 1916.


On that school ground with sweet

Annie, Jack and Bill

Now ‘thas vanished far away

Like the mists at break of day,

And we miss the wooden school upon the hill!

Now they say they have a better

Reared near where the old stood,

Made of brick, where climbing vine, and brush and flower

But ‘tis only in the letter

For the old one made of wood

Comes before me with its mem’ries every hour![1]


The poet’s nostalgia was for the wooden Friendship High School that sat on the little rise of ground on the southeast corner of Superior and Lake Streets in Friendship.  The “better” school of brick was the Friendship High School built in 1914 on Fifth and Raymond Streets. The better building became the Friendship Grade School in 1929, saw its last attending student as a Middle School in 1998 and is as of 2018 part of the Adams-Friendship School District Administration Building.  Sweet Annie, Jack and Bill passed on years ago. The old wooden school building continued in use as a grade school through the 1920s. The building itself survived through the early 1950s.



A New High School Divides a Community



In 1910 the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad laid tracks and established a division headquarters over a mile and a half south of the wooden schoolhouse.  Railroad family children had to walk the two miles to the school through the deep sand of the unpaved streets. Their parents brought pressure to build a new school building closer to the new population center.  A 1912 proposal for a new high school to be built closer to the railroad followed a 1911 petition to build a new county courthouse close to the railroad. The two proposals generated much animosity between the established Friendship residents and the new railroad people.   The ensuing feud resulted in the new courthouse being built in the same location as the old one, the high school being built in Friendship, and to the incorporation of Adams and Friendship as separate villages.[2]


In a New School with Pride


The first graduating class of 1914 in the Raymond Street building attended school in what became the basement floor of the building.  Regardless of their subterranean quarters, the class was ambitious enough to publish a yearbook entitled The Roche a Cri Annual – 1914.  Graduating that year were Harold P. S. Day, Vena Marie Hill, Ella Pease, and Percy Smith. The high school faculty consisted of three teachers: Principal Alvin M Peterson, 1st Asst. Principal Nina Boughton, and Asst. Mathematics Ida Mae Davis.

The Class of 1914 made no mention of their new building in the yearbook, but the juniors did:

“In November, we moved from the old school building to the new one on Oak Lawn.[3]  We at first did not wish the change, but soon grew accustomed to our new quarters.  The arrangement of the windows is real accommodating, as one can easily climb out of them to the ground without the slightest danger of falling.”[4]

School programs developed quickly over the next few years, as did the Friendship High School students.  A first basketball game against another school was played on Saturday, January 23, 1915 against New Lisbon.  Friendship High School played well, according to the newspaper but lost 32 to 16. The paper noted that New Lisbon High School had the advantage with an enrollment of 110 students to pick a team from while Friendship High School had only 37 with just one male senior.[5]

The following year, the basketball team was doing better, at least against a smaller school.  The newspaper reported that on Friday February 11, 1916 the Friendship “Gladiators” beat the Oxford “Olympians” 21 to 19.[6]

1916 was a banner year for Friendship High School culturally, academically, and socially as well.  On May 5, 1916 FHS hosted New Lisbon and Necedah High Schools for an Oratorical-Declamatory Contest.  The elaborate plans for the event included meeting the visiting contestants and coaches at the Northwestern depot in the afternoon, entertaining them through the afternoon and providing a reception at the high school after the contest.[7]  Earlier, in April a basket social was held with great success. Twenty-six baskets were sold and the proceeds for the event totaled $39.95, which was to be put towards the purchase of a piano for the school.

At the end of the 1916 school year, nine students graduated.  Clara Smith was the class president.  She had  lost her ability to walk in 1912, but did not let that keep her from finishing her education and going on to serve Adams County as Register of Deeds for many years. Clara credited her Friendship High School teacher and mentor, Nina Boughton with giving her the help and encouragement to overcome her disability and succeed in school and work. Also graduating in 1916 were Mable Purves, Birtal Pease, Magdalen Polivka (Salutatorian), Agnes Malvinovski, Marie Werner (Valedictorian), Burt Pierce, George Strom and Harvey Church.[8]


Cooperation and Another New High School


 Friendship High School moved through the 1920s with increasing enrollments, extended programs, sometimes better basketball teams and continued rivalry between Friendship and Adams.  Adams and Friendship each had their own school boards.   Often plays and other events were presented twice, once in Friendship and once in Adams.  Adams and Friendship students had separate athletic teams.

By late in the decade, the cost of operating the high school was becoming a burden on taxpayers. Residents of both Friendship and Adams started thinking that perhaps cooperation might be economically advisable.  A joint Committee on Establishment of a High School formed in April 1927 that brought together the school boards of Adams and Friendship.  The joint committee concluded that a joint high school could save taxes.  Helping things along, a new state law passed the following month allowed for establishing free county high schools and encouraged the consolidation of high school districts.  The promised economies of cooperation (plus offering a “more complete and diversified” curriculum, etc.) were enough to set aside differences and the Adams-Friendship Union Free High School was established in 1928.  A new high school building was erected on Main Street north of Brevoort Blvd. in Adams and formally opened in September 1929.  The Friendship High School building became Friendship Grade School.


Friendship Grade School


 The Raymond Street building’s new incarnation as the Friendship Grade School continued to grow in enrollment though the 1930s and 1940s due to population increases, redistricting and the closing of several rural schools.  Parent Teacher Associations were formed that helped with programs of many kinds and raised money for the purchase of playground equipment and other needed items.  A hot lunch program was established and a cook hired.  A Kindergarten program was also established that for a time was conducted in the school cloakroom, as that was only space available.

In the 1940s and through the 1950s, the big event at Friendship Grade School was the annual Christmas program.  Typical of the programs was the 1945 production of “A Story of Christmas” featuring Loretta Fogarty and Glen Chaffee as a lonely older couple who were visited by a group of school children whose bus had broken down.  Rollin Ager played a gingerbread man in the play and Richard Sorensen sang a solo.[9]

In 1957, Friendship Grade School presented a Christmas operetta with Ralph Nultemeier and Mary Beth Walsh playing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, Denise Wood playing a Topsy doll, and different classes playing tops, candy kids, nurse dolls, toy soldiers, jumping jacks, balloons, and clowns.[10]

In the 1960s, all area public schools were consolidated into the Adams-Friendship Area School District and there no longer were separate school boards for each school or locality.  The Friendship High/Grade School building was given an addition, and changed to a middle school for Friendship and Adams students.  The last middle school students left the building in 1998.  It is, as of 2018, a part of the Adams-Friendship School District Administration Building.l


This article previously appeared in the spring 2007 edition of the Adams County Historical Society’s newsletter: The Quatrefoil.

[1] Rev. James Deans, “The Old Wooden School on the Hill”, Friendship Reporter, Thursday, July 27, 1916.

[2] An account of the controversy surrounding the building of the 1914 Friendship High School can be found in the book From Past to Present, the History of Adams County, Michael Goc, Editor, Adams County Historical Society and New Past Press, 1999, pp. 136-137

[3] Oak Lawn subdivision, at that time a recent addition to the village plat.

[4] The Roche a Cri Annual, The students of Friendship High School, 1914, p. 8

[5] “School News” Friendship Reporter, January 28, 1915.

[6] “School News” Friendship Reporter, February 17, 1916.

[7] “School News” Friendship Reporter, May 4, 1916

[8] “Commencement Week”, Friendship Reporter, June 8, 1916.

[9] “Friendship School Presents Program”, Friendship Reporter, December 20, 1945.

[10] “Grade School Christmas Programs Scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday”, Friendship Reporter, December 12, 1957.