Early History of HPHS


The history of the Highland Park Schools is representative of the struggle of early Kansans for education.  School District #35 was born simultaneously with the state of Kansas.  It was organized on March 7, 1862, under the direction of Peter McVicar who was then county Superintendent.  The district was first called "Flanders," but the name was later changed to "Highland Park."  On June 25, 1863, at a school meeting, a committee of five members was appointed to find a site for a schoolhouse.  Due to the postponement of school meetings, objection to location and inability to raise funds for the purchase of bonds, the first school house was not built until 1868.  It was built of native stone at a cost of $1000.00 and was located at what is now 27th & Indiana Streets.  Prior to that time school was held in a rented house.  The first session of school in the new building began September 14, 1868 with Adelia E. Hunt as the teacher.  After twenty-one years the school was sold at public sale to the hightst bidder.  Major J. K. Hudson bought it for $81.00 on June 10, 1889.

  The first brick grade school was built in 1889 with Mr. J. G. Shull the teacher and 61 pupils attending.  A two-year high school course was introduced by Superintendent  Mr. Glenwood Jones in 1909 and a third year was added in 1911.  High school classes were held in the upper story of the building until a two-story brick high school building, located just South of the grade school, was completed in 1916.  The first class graduated in the spring of 1917 and was composed of eight members:  Clarabel Banta, Inez Berridge, Paul Chance, Iva Faust, Stanton Pearson, Fay Quisenberry, John Tevis and Ruth Zirkle.  

By 1934 enrollment had grown to over 200 and the atheltic program had found the frame gymnasium to be inadequate.  In 1935, School District 35 built a Gothic style red brick building on the same site as the little 1868 stone school and it became the new high school for a cost of $113,000.  At about this time the girls' pep club, called the Scotch Lassies, was organized.  While the idea of the Highlanders or the Scotsmen and the colors green and red have always been distinctively associated with Highland Park High School, these Scotch Lassies obtained permission to use the true Steward Plaid for their pep club costumes.      

District #35 was merged In 1939 with new district #10.

By 1951, enrollment reached 400.  A new high school building, located at 2424 California Avenue, was completed and what what was the high school became the junior high.  By 1956, enrollment had reached 800 and two new wings were added to the high school.

On August 1, 1959, Highland Park schools officially became a part of the Topeka Public School system and Mr. Barney Hays, the former high school Superintendent since 1955, became the principal of Highland Park High School.  At that time it was a 4 year high school but that ended in the school year 1960-1961. That is when the 9th grade was moved to the junior high and the high school became a 3 year high school.  In1980, it was changed back to a 4 year high school and remains that way today.  


Source:  Topeka & Shawnee Public Library; Memorial Edition of The Scottie Memories 1868-1980 Yearbook; Bulletin of The Shawnee County Historical Society Reprinted June 1978, article "Highland Park Has Fine Schools" by Carolyn V. Reed and Clarice V. Zirkle