Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remembering Uptown's West High School

Once upon a time Uptown had a high school of its own. In 1908, local high school students first entered the halls of a brand new school. West, located on Hennepin and 28th, housed students in grades ten through twelve. The school thrived, and at one point it was the second largest high school in the Minneapolis system. Its students, clad in their green and white letter jackets and sweaters, swarmed the streets of Uptown. After school let out for the day they'd head to the library, to the soda fountains, to their afternoon jobs, or back to their nearby homes. West was, up until its closing in 1982, an important center of neighborhood life.

Today's local high school students don't have the luxury of a neighborhood high school. They go to Southwest or South or perhaps Blake or Breck or some other private school. And Uptown loses something in the process.

A neighborhood school does more than simply educate its students. It boosts the sense of community. Residents, with or without kids at the school, can attend student theatrical productions, cheer at the homecoming game (or just watch the parade) and help nurture the development of teenagers into fullfledged adult members of society. High schools have some downsides, too - lots of bad drivers floating around, probably an increase in litter and petty vandalism, cigarette butts on the street. But overall they're pretty good places to have around.

It's been more than a quarter of a century since our high school closed. Realistically there's no going back. For those that attended West, it must be a bittersweet experience to walk past the site of the once-grand school and its many years of good (and bad) memories. For those that came of age in Uptown post-1982, it must be difficult to imagine a time when one could walk to school quickly and easily. The next time you walk along Hennepin by 28th Street take some time to reflect on changing times and the ups and downs of neighborhood life.

17 comments:

  1. Graduated from West in 1980... little did we know the school had 2 years of life left. Used to walk up to 30th for Burger King lunch or across the street to Knut Koupee music, then back to school. It was a city school in a suburban city community.. with lakes!

    Matt K.

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  2. I Just read that James Arness the actor (James King Aurness) graduated West High in 1942. One of many successful graduates of our school

    Richard Ten Dyke, Class of 1949

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    1. I thought James Arness and his brother Peter Graves attended North High.

      I'm a West High graduate, 1966.
      I worked at the Walker Library after school, and had sodas at the drug store on Lake Street.

      I remember the area fondly.
      Elissa Reiter Kartman, Class of 1966.

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    2. Peter Graves went to Southwest High. See his Bio.

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  3. I attended West from '80-'82. "Played" for our terrible varsity football team, which was no better than a 1-2 win team those years.

    At least our hoops team was pretty good.

    It was sad to see the old school close. I think the other tragedy was the fact they just built a new gym that was awesome. It was a fitness gym for awhile after they closed the school. I think that too is now gone though.

    And look what happened to Southwest High - they became the "Lakers?" Weak.

    I guess there's no need for Indians without Cowboys to battle, right? Or maybe political correctness killed their name...

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  4. does anyone out there remember Felix the Cat? My mother, Jean Hersey, graduated from West about 1929 and used to be Felix...at sports events, i guess. her only living sibling is much younger and doesn't remember Felix.

    anyone?

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    Replies
    1. https://youtu.be/sxailD4Ofq4

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    2. I graduatrd from West in 76 and I remember Felix the Cat.

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    3. I was at West 76-79 and I dont remember any "Felix the Cat" being associated with the West High Cowboys? Nothing in the only yrbook I have (76)...i dont remember any cat...what was the deal?
      what did it do?

      As to 1929, I wonder if anyone has scanned & posted any yrbks from then? Maybe a Felix mention/sighting

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  5. I graduated in '81. It was a great location to have a school! The teaching had started to go downhill, did not get the greatest education, if not for Ms. Westby, Mr. Hargreaves, Mrs. Morgan (Spanish), and Mr. Berendt, and a couple others. There were some very bad teachers, though, who did not teach a thing! It was in it's declining years. Still, many memories of old West!

    Regards to all "Westies", it was a great era! Wish there was an all class West High reunion.
    Carrie M.

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    1. I also graduated in '81, and sat next to Carrie M. during the commencement ceremony; didn't learn much from Mr. Larson (electronics) or the govt. teacher.

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  6. I graduated in 1978 and remember West fondly. There is an annual all-class West high reunion held at Williams Pub. I think it's held in August. People show up from graduating classes going 'way back'. I hear it's a good time and I always *think I'll go, but never have. Maybe this year...

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  7. I graduated from West HS in l964 [for you millennial persons, that was in the ice ages] I was involved in the debate team.
    Pity to learn it closed..
    Martin in Australia.. [retired school teacher]

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  8. I live in the Projects, built on what was the football field of West High. My unit faces the Greenway bike path.

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  9. What were the schools colors? Logo? Cowboys?

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    1. Colors were Green and white. Mascot: Cowboys

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  10. We had a fight song, colmposed I was told in the 40's
    by the son of Mr. Krieger, band master and music director

    We sing for dear old West High
    To help her win today
    We sing for dear old West High
    To urge her on to play, play, play
    No matter who the victor
    Our team will give its best
    For it's shout, shout' shout
    'Till our lungs give out
    For that valiant team from West

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