Acknowledgement-Much of the text and pictures taken from site http://gideon.k12.mo.us/town/gideona.htm-compiled by students of the Gideon School District. For more detailed information visit site. Click on pictures to enlarge.
The History of
Gideon School District #37
To meet the needs of the company's families, in 1902 the Clarkton Lumber Company built and financed a school for one year. Ellen Gum was the first teacher with approximately 23 students enrolled. Between 1902 and 1904 a school district was organized here and was officially called District Number 37 with M.V. Mumma as one of the first school board members.
In 1904 Otto Kochtitzky of Cape Girardeau donated seven acres of ground for a school park. Before the year had ended, the school district's second school had been built near the center of the park.
The Gideon School District was organized as a city school in 1915; the name of the school was officially changed from District 37 to Gideon School District of New Madrid County. The first board members were L.H. Sheehan, T.W. Cottrill, M.L. Mumma; L.M. Saraff, President; J.W. French, and W.J. Lynn. Because the population of Gideon had increased, making the school building then in use inadequate, in 1915 a three-story brick building was erected; by 1921 three new classrooms had been added. In 1916 L.B. Hoy was elected superintendent of the Gideon Schools. He would serve as superintendent until 1956. The first approved high school work of twelve units was offered in Gideon in 1916-1917. The 1917 graduates were Andy Stuckman, Carl Gum, Carl Hubbard, and Guy Johnson. The school was upgraded from second- to first-class rating in 1919-1920. In 1923 the enrollment, including eight ward schools, was 950 students with 25 teachers employed.
By 1935 the Gideon School District had 1,500 students enrolled and 30 teachers employed --20 in the central school and 10 in the ward schools. The 1936-37 total enrollment was 1,910 with 37 teachers. The present high school building was completed in 1937 at a cost of $99,000. At one time, according to Ripley, the School District of Gideon was the largest unconsolidated school district in the U.S. The school has been triple A since 1959.
Through the 1940's the enrollment of the Gideon School District was approximately 1,950 students, including students enrolled in the country schools such as Little Walnut, Peanut, Floodway, Tallapoosa, Jericho, Hartzell, Cottrill, Milburn, Morris Angelin, McBride, and Frailie. Later in the 1940's bus service was provided so that students from the country schools could come to Gideon. During this time, school lunches cost only 12 cents per day. Until the early 1960's school was out of session from about May 14 to about July 28 and again in October to about November 3 for cotton vacation.
The present elementary building was built in 1952; the wing was added in 1956. Our present-day gymnasium, one of the most impressive in the area, was constructed in 1958-59. After the cafeteria burned in 1961, a new cafetorium/band building was completed in 1962.
The Gideon School District is noted throughout the state and region as providing one of the best technologically rich environments for students and the community . Every classroom is equipped with at least one networked computer. The high school houses two computer labs, a computer technology lab, Interactive television lab, two mobile laptop labs, mobile science computer lab, and a media center which houses seven networked computers. The elementary school provides a stationary computer lab, as well as, two mobile computer labs and a media center equipped with three computers. All computers in the district are networked and provide patrons with full Internet access. The district hosts its own Internet WWW site and provides patrons with dial-up access and email accounts.
Down the corridors of the Gideon schools have walked future lawyers, doctors, nurses, major league ballplayers, ministers, musicians, homemakers, secretaries, politicians, teachers, law enforcement officers; and the list goes on. All of these students, in addition to the faculty and staff, have shared one common bond--they were to become a part of the history of the school.
Early pictures-click to enlarge. More old pictures in "PHOTO ALBUMS."
Walk of Fame Bricks are located around the Time Capsule and Bell. This is an on going project so please get your brick(s) reserved today.
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Built in 1915 for grades 1-12. In 1937 the present high school was completed. Our class of 1959 remembers this building as the Grade School for grades 3-6. The building was demolished in 1958 for the construction of the present Gym. A new Grade School Building was erected in 1952-3. The story was told by a Gideon business owner who graduated from high school in the 1920's that some of the boys (mostly the football team) hoist the Superintendent's car to the top of the flat roof. The car was reported stolen but finally someone spotted it on the roof. As the story goes, the guilty boys were never found out. This is the same boys that dared each other to run down main street naked at twilight-and you wonder where the "flashers" got their start.
Remember the Fire Escape attached to the rear of the Grade School? Fire drills were fun days when certain glasses got to slide down the fire escape. It was the forerunner of the water slides without the water-correction-there was usually a large mud puddle at the landing.
Maypole Day was the big climax of the school year. Grades 1-6 were the participates. Large poles with colorful paper streamers were woven in and out forming a pretty pattern. Each grade had their own pole and theme which included the girls dresses, colors and colors of the streamers. We danced around the pole to music-what good memories. The teachers would send dress patterns and instructions home with the students for the mothers to make the dresses. If a parent couldn't afford the material they could use crepe paper-so a lot of crepe paper dresses were worn for Maypole. If a mother did not sew or have a machine one of the other mothers would help out. It's amazing how they did it but every Maypole was presented with the girls looking pretty in their frilly and colorful dresses and the boys in color matching shirts.
The cotton crops had 3 seasons for producing income for the area folks-(1) Cotton Choppin' (2) Cotton Pickin' (3) Pullin' Boles. Cotton Pickin' was by far the most productive season for the school kids and townsfolk's. It was so important the schools turned out for a 6 week Cotton Vacation in July-the exact date depended on when the cotton was ready. The vacation was a mixture of fun, riches and misery. The country kids and a few town kids had already been through the chopping season but the majority of the town kids picked the cotton. The money made bought their school clothes, school lunches, school supplies, senior rings, school pictures and sometimes Christmas. If you've met anyone from the Old School of Gideon you will meet a hard worker because they started working when they were big enough to walk and pull a cotton sack.
The first sack was usually a toe sack with a homemade strap then you graduated to a 3 foot store bought sack. The next size was usually a 5 footer-as the picker grew the sack grew also- some serious worker had two 8 foot sacks sewn together and picked 3 rows at a time by straddling the center row. The cotton fields of Gideon area were some of the most lush in the country. The soil was very fertile since the area was once a swamp before the drainage district was created. The cotton plant was much different than today's, it was much taller and leafy. The cotton was large and fluffy and hurt like heck when the sharp prongs of the hard hull pricked your hands and fingers. "Cotton Pickers Friend" was a favorite ointment for the irritated and scratched hands.
The job was too big for just the farmers and town people. Migrate works were brought in from Mexico in large trucks. Entire families would arrive year after year and live in barracks, supplied by the farmers, on the edge of the cotton fields. They did most of their cooking outside.
Saturday afternoons were generally a leisure day when everyone came to town to do their shopping. It was also the big Show day for a romping cowboy movie- the favorite usually Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Public bathrooms were only available in the theater so accommodations were made where-ever. One of the store owners remembers having to watch carefully to keep the youngsters from crawling under the racks of clothing and relieving themselves.
The cotton fields were sometimes more educational than the classrooms. Younger workers picking beside the older school kids got a liberal education in the birds and the bees and not the ones flying over the cotton patch. Learning to smoke was sometimes a bigger accomplishment than the pounds of cotton picked. The scientific fact that burying a beetle bug would make it rain and you could go home early. Culinary was taught when you came upon a persimmon tree with plump beautiful persimmons waiting to be picked. The lesson was- you never bit into one until after a frost or else your mouth would be puckered for the rest of the cotton season. The old saying "It's to good to be true" was when you found a pile of picked cotton laying in the middle of a row and you scooped it up to find it was the remains of someone's bathroom. These little lessons of life would last a lifetime. In early fall the temperature turned brisk and the air filled with smoke from the burning of cotton hulls. School was in full swing, basketball season was here and we all looked dapper in our new clothes and white buck shoes. This is a general oversight of the days before the mechanical picker. The tales of the cotton patches could be a website.
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Gideon Seniors 1959