SHS History

The Birth of A School District
The first commencement exercise of Savannah High School was held in 1878. The following five ladies were recognized:

Elizabeth Caldwell
Anna Millan
Maggie Checkley
Belle Strock
Emily Layton

The Schoolhouse That Burned In 1932
Even today, many memories abound when certain residents of Savannah see a picture of the schoolhouse that stood on Chestnut from 1904 until 1932 - the year it burned.

That building housed all twelve grades. For many years all grades - one through twelve - were on the two lower floors. The first six grades were on the first floor with grades one through four on the north side of the building, grade five was on the southwest corner and grade six was on the southeast corner.

The seventh grade was in the southeast corner upstairs and the eighth grade was in the southwest corner. Between the seventh and eighth grade rooms, the Superintendent and Principal had offices, and directly across the hall was the high school study hall, which really was a place to study.

Two classrooms were on each side of the study hall. Those four rooms housed all the classes in mathematics, Latin, science, history and English.

Occasionally, a class would be held in some sort of unusual place. For instance, the writer of this article had two classes with George F. Nardin, who was both superintendent and teacher. Having no class room available for his vocal music class, he turned his office into a classroom and we sang as well there as we would have sung anywhere.

Sometime between 1915 and 1922 a fire escape was added for those upstairs rooms on the north side of the building. It was one of those circular escapes which resembled a silo more than anything. It had a door opening into the study hall. When a fire drill was held, the students went to that door, sat down, and away they went round and round and out at a door at the bottom.

High school assemblies were held once each week in the auditorium that was under the Ed V. Price Library just east of the schoolhouse.

Almost 1920 the third floor, which had been only an attic, was finished and provided seven extra rooms which were badly needed by then.
H.G. Puckett
One day in the winter of 1932, "Tommy" Conklin, the fireman at the school, was returning from lunch at his home just north of the school, and he saw the roof of the building was on fire. Tommy came on a "dead run" and yelling at the top of his lungs, "The building's on fire!", "Get those kids out of there!"

H.G. Puckett was superintendent then, and he recalls that he was in the study hall at the time, saw Tommy coming, and went to meet him. Upon learning the facts, Mr. Puckett went quickly to each room, told the teachers the situation, and asked them to take their classes outside. Everyone got out safely and the pupils did not know that they were in danger until they were in the yard and looked up at the roof.

They saved most of the equipment, most of the records, and many memories of classmates, teachers, good times, some hard work, class squabbles, and fun by the bushels!

The Ed. V. Price Public Library
  The Ed. V. Price Public Library, stood on Chestnut Street beside the first and   second High Schools, for decades.

  This library, built in 1912, was unique in that the endowment was just the opposite   from the method used to secure a Carnegie Library. The Carnegie Fund had a plan   whereby the Foundation built the building and the town kept the supply of books up   to date. In this case, the city of Savannah built the building, and Savannah native   Ed. V. Price provided an endowment with the stipulation that the income was to be   used to pay a librarian to purchase a shipment of current books each month.

  This plan was to be administered by the board of education since it was located on   school property. The first shipment of books to stock the library was chosen by the   state librarian of the state of New York who was connected with the Price family in   some way. The plan was followed rigidly for many years, but bad investments of the   endowment money finally wiped out much of the original amount; however as of   2010, according to Savannah R-III District Treasurer Jill Jones the district still utilizes   proceeds from money invested from him for materials used by the middle school   library.

For many years, the only auditoriam in the Savannah area for plays, lectures, commencement, etc. was located under the library. It had a fairly well equipped stage and would seat about 475 people. School assemblies were held in this auditorium each week for many years.

The home where Ed. V. Price was born and grew up was located on the northeast corner of the grounds at the Minnie Cline School. His father, W. A. Price, was an early day merchant in Savannah.

This building was used by the middle school for a number of years for class rooms and a band room. It was inspected and ruled unsafe to use, so the school board had it torn down in June 2001.

The "Old" High School
The old high school (formerly Savannah Middle School) was constructed in 1932.
The new building was completed in November 1932 at a cost of $102,106. The Savannah Reported issue #48 dated 11-25-32 says, "By virtue of a $50,000 bond issue, insurance and salvage money from the old building, all work, including
grading, will be paid for when the new school is turned over to the district."

The gym was started in 1922 and they played on a dirt floor until it was completed in 1924. The first game played at the gym after completion was the Bearcats/Hillyard, National AAU Championship game. The athletic field north of the school was built in 1928 with donated funds from Dr. Perry Nichols who had the Cancer Sanitorium at that time. The additional gym/cafeteria was added in 1972.

When the building was built in 1932, it housed grades 1-12 as the old one had done. In 1957 it became the Junior and Senior High school. It was at this time that Minnie Cline was built and the school district was reorganized. An era came to an end when this old building was demolished in 2010.

The District Reorganized
  In 1948 the Missouri legislature passed the Hawkins School Reorganization Act to encourage the consolidation of   rural school districts into larger and more efficient units. This reorganization/consolidation of schools districts started   across the state in or about the early 1950s. There wasn't any real date of the reorganization for all schools in   Missouri. In fact, some districts didn't reorganize until the early 1960s.

The R in Savannah R-III stands for Reorganized. There are also districts that have a C in them like Jefferson C-123; the C stands for Consolidated.Both of these distinctions are a result of the same Hawkins School Reorganization Act of 1948.

While it is not certain what the 3 stands for, the best interpretation is that there were probably 20 little one room school houses all over Andrew County. When reorganization took place some governmental official lumped the little schools into groups and randomly assigned, "you all are district #1." "You all are district #2." "You all are district #3" and so on. Savannah, Helena, and numerous other one room schools were all lumped together and apparently they were the 3rd group listed. There are individuals within Andrew County who still talk about the old "Todd School", and others. These were absorbed into the Savannah R-III District during Reorganization. Numerous counties had just one superintendent to oversee all schools within their county. Thus some today still remember when the position was refered to as "County Superintendent."

The "New" High School
The current high school building was constructed in 1962. It added classrooms in 1968 and constructed the high school shop and minigym and enlarged the cafeteria in 1972. In 1988, the south end rooms were added. In 2000, the new science wing was added and as well as the new concession stand at the football field.

A Fresh Face