Thursday, November 29, 2007

85 years of Durham High School

By Dan Barnett

Adriana Langerwerf Farley of Durham is an indefatigable compiler. Local historians will be much in her debt as will decades of Durham High School grads whose names (almost 4,000 of them) are now between covers.

Copies of "85 Years — Durham High School" (146 pages, spiral bound) are sold at cost for $10. To order a copy, contact Farley at or call 894-3163.

Farley writes me that in 2004, while she was working on a book about World War II, she found three names on the Durham Honor Roll that she couldn't identify. "Two names turned out to be former administrators, and one was a teacher. When trying to find information on these three, the high school office and the DUSD district office seemed to be the place to go for help. Neither could provide information, even the years they'd been employed. With permission from Principal Paul Arnold, and a lot of help from Yolanda Prentice, all the copies of the Durham High's annual The Corona were borrowed from the DHS archives (the vault in the office) from 1923 through 2007 and scanned, copied, transcribed."

That produced the following lists, all of which are included in the book:

1. "All trustees 1921 through 2007, and dates they served, including newspaper clippings and photographs of individuals from their family members."

2. A similar list "of all superintendents 1950-2007 including pictures and signatures scanned from The Corona, with a one-page biography for each."

3. "All principals (there are 18) 1921-2007. Each principal has a one-page biography, although a couple have only scant information, alas."

4. "All faculty (certificated staff) and their service dates, along with a chronology of school and building changes from 1921-2007. The teacher's full name is provided and the year he or she was added to the staff," as well as the yearly dedications to faculty and staff that appeared in The Corona.

5. Finally, "with the assistance of present day DUSD staff member Pat Smith, a list was compiled of all classified staff 1953-2007." (No record exists for classified employees before 1953.)

A message from one of the principals, Harold P. Hill, is particularly striking. "We have been told by our coaches that we are changing from a defensive style of play to an offensive attack. We won't let the team down... The head coach in Washington has said, 'With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.'"

— From The Corona, 1942.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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