50 Years of Carving Out a New...

Page Created: 

August 31,  2021

 

N ew

A ttitude

 

“We put together the best minds and risk-takers possible.  At all times I knew we would succeed in breaking new ground and in making students partners in their destiny.”

By Dr. Merlin Ludwig

Principal 1969-1972

Writer for The Oregonian

              Portland, Oregon

 

(Hint: Click on Dr. Ludwig's picture to view the original page in the SMNW 1994 Yearbook)

          Fear, apprehension, boldness, mission commitment, and about every other emotion one can experience were blended together in my life as we ventured forth to open a “model high school” with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment located in a former corn field in Shawnee, Kansas.

            The confidence that I was able to exude was real and heartfelt because of a solid background in working with high school students in St. Louis.  They had created my educational and personal beliefs as together we struggled with the changing society in the sixties.

            We approached Northwest High School as a new school with the mission of carving out a new educational program for high school youth without relying on traditions or “how we have done it in the past.”  It without a doubt was my most exciting experience in education.

            The opportunity to select the professional and support staff for this school of the future gave me assurance that we would put together the best minds and risk-takers possible.  At all times I knew we would succeed in breaking ground and in making students partners in their destiny.

            In the three short years we moved from an idea to an exciting concept that worked with the young people.  We made some mistakes, but we carved out a new direction for secondary education that has impacted thousands of educators, new educational practices, and successful approaches that have been shared all across the country.

           While the approaches were somewhat radical for the minds of many at the time, ironically, they are now found in the Educational Reform plans of most states as people struggle to salvage our valued educational system in America.  It is astounding to me that the concepts people are creating in the twentieth century were in existence at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School nearly thirty years ago in Shawnee.

                   Dr. Merlin Ludwig

 

“Copied from "The SMNW 1994 School Yearbook", page 164 & 165, the 25th Anniversary edition.”