History of Homer High School

The first school established in Homer was in 1920-21, and was called the Kachemak Bay School. Nellie Jean McCullough was the first teacher. She was approximately twenty-five years of age, and arrived with her husband, who started a fox farm.

The nine students Mrs. McCullough had her first year were children from the Nielson, Newton, and Peary families. Some of them had attended school in Denmark, but, because they spoke no English, they were enrolled in the first grade.

The school building was a little one-room log cabin. There were no desks and all seats were homemade benches. The heating system was a pot-bellied coal stove, lighting was by kerosene lanterns, and drinking water was brought in buckets.

Many inconveniences and seemingly insurmountable obstacles challenged the pioneer teacher, but the fantastic high salary of $150 a month was quite an incentive. Mrs. McCullough taught in this school, which was located on the Starr Nielsen homestead near Miller's Landing, for two years.

In 1922 the community built a new log school, and the Department of Education in Juneau provided the furnishings and school supplies. Miss Carlotta Crabb about twenty-five years of age, was the teacher that year. She had been hired by the local school board. The Territory paid her salary.

In 1923-24 Miss Jean Flindal taught in the Kachemak Bay school. In December of that year a fire destroyed the building. Charlie Miller, who still resides in Homer, moved from his own cabin so that it could be used as a school for the remainder of the term.

In 1924-25 Jim Graham, Homer's first male teacher, arrived. He also taught in the Miller cabin and had six students.

In 1941 a new school was built that was three stories high and had two teacher apartments and a classroom on the top floor. This modern building had indoor plumbing; a central heat powered by a large coal furnace and was wired for electricity. There was a small building behind the school that housed a generator to provide lights. The generator had its problems and no one at the school was a mechanic so it created a lot of problems. A December 1945 school paper tells about the CAA offering to furnish the school with electricity until the school could obtain its own. The current was turned on Nov. i7".

    There were four classrooms on the middle floor and the basement held the furnace/coal room, separate boys and girls' bathrooms and a large area that functioned as a classroom for the high school students, place for dances, meetings or the school plays. There was no playground, only the roughed out area around the school. This school had the first high school.

    The library room had one bookshelf and served as a classroom. There were no teaching/learning aids or play equipment other than a ball and a moose hide. The hide was used in the winter to slide down the small hill in front of the school.

    They held annual Easter egg hunts with the high school students coloring the eggs up in the teacher's quarters. The Christmas program was always a highlight. Santa would come and pass out gifts that the parents had brought and also candy. The handing out of gifts lasted only a short time.

    To earn money the high school had a carnival once a year and would have basket socials. This is where the girls/ladies would make a picnic basket and put fancy decorations on it and each basket would be auctioned off with the winner getting the basket and dinner with whoever made it.

    The school purchased a projector and screen to show movies periodically to provide entertainment and gain extra funds. The film would be shipped out of Anchorage by plane. In 1947 the community came together and built a playground that was flat and clear of stumps or brush.

A new addition was started in 1951 with occupancy taking place in the fall of 1952. The high school took over the old building and grades one through eight used the new addition.

    A new oil furnace that heated both buildings was installed in the new building and the old furnace/coal room was refurbished and became the typing room. Prior to this the typing class was held on the landings of the main & upper level floors.

    The whole hot and cold water system water system was replaced including the old hose that ran above the ground from Sam Pratt's water supply to the school.

    A kitchen and eating area was built in the downstairs of the old building so we could have hot lunches. (Freda Coles made the first hot lunches in her home and brought them to school to be served.) Mrs. Wickersham & Mrs. Hollis were the cooks with school mothers serving. For the first time a Homer school had a real school office and excuse slips were introduced.

1957  First dedicated high school building is under construction.. Mr Cason arrives to teach, but when it is discovered that he knows about placing steel reinforcing, he is hired to put the steel in the new building.  HHS has it’s first gymnasium.

In 1972, the second high school was built, with the first swimming pool.  It is now the Junior High School.

The latest high school was built in 1985 and is located on the East End Road close to the intersection with Lake St. It has a swimming pool, a large gym, wood & auto shops, weight room, theatre with large stage that seats 350, and a commons area large enough to easily seat 100 on folding chairs. There is a 30-40 foot whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling in this area. There are 400 students that attend here.

In the same year a new school, named the Cook Inlet School, was built and put into operation near the present site. Approximately 6 1/2 acres of land were donated for this school by Mr. Mae Harrington and one-half acre was donated by Alfred Anderson, presently living in Homer. Miss Jean Flindal, with six students, was the first teacher in Cook Inlet School. In order to obtain the sixth student--to  make it possible to open the school--Miss Flindal had to import a child from Seldovia for the year. This building, too, was destroyed by fire in January, 1929, and school was held at the Woodard homestead for the remainder of the year. The Department of Education built a new school with separate teacher's quarters and hired Margaret Richardson as teacher for the 1929-30 school year.

    Throughout the years many teachers arrived in Homer to assume their responsibilities. Some married and became permanent members of the community; others found it difficult to live in the primitive conditions they found here and moved to new locations. Mrs. Mabel Shotter, who taught at the Cook Inlet School in 1934-35, organized the Homer Women's Club and established the Homer Public Library.

    In December, 1939, the Homer Hill School was opened with Margaret Richardson the teacher. The school opened with a Christmas program. The school was still the center of social activities and the town "turned out" for the program.

    From 1939-42 Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Allan taught at Cook Inlet School. Homer was growing, as this was the first time more than one teacher had been hired for a school. The Allans taught in Homer's first high school with six or seven students in attendance. In 1940-41 an additional teacher was employed.

The Homer Heights school was built in 1939 on Crossman Ridge by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The land was donated by “Pop” Allen.  This building was used until 1946.

Cook Inlet school in 1929

The 1946/1947 school year was held on this building on Gus Lofgren’s property on Diamond Ridge.

The East Hill school opened in 1948 in a log cabin built by Tom Crawford on Skyline Drive near the corner of Olsen Mtn. Road.  It was used for 3-4 years.

The first school annual was produced in 1954. This gave us a much better tracking of who attended school and what their activities were.

In the early 50's Friday afternoons became a fun time for many who joined the school ski team. The school team would have races against the Homer Ski Club with a trophy being given to the winner. Frank Darnel, one of the high school teachers, established and instructed the ski team.

The first school queen pageant was held in the early '50's with Claire Carlson being crowned queen. Each contestant sold tickets and whoever sold the most tickets was the winner. The final evening of the contest was a big production with the basement being jammed packed with people; the school earned a lot of money with the pageant.