The Story of Hutchinson High School

Sep 20, 2016

There is nothing in which Reno County people take greater pride than in their excellent public schools.” — Superintendent Charles Dawson, 1895

By Paul Waggoner ‘74

A humble beginning

After Hutchinson was founded in 1872, the high school was merely part of Hutchinson’s four-room Sherman schoolhouse, which accommodated Grades 1-11. It was not until 1882 that Hutchinson saw its first high school graduating class, which was comprised of two students

A transition

By 1891, the high school encompassed the entire second-floor of the Sherman school building. The high school needed more room, and it found it at 5th & Maple in what the town would call its new Central School. In 1895, the high school program was expanded into a four-year program for grades 9-12. Over the next several years, the school would grow to 331 students with graduating classes of about 35.

A major step

A growing town made an important decision in 1910 when Hutchinson spent $125,000 to build a new high school building to accommodate 800 students. And at this new 7th & Walnut location, the contours of current school life took shape.

5th & Maple HHS Building in 1908

7th & Walnut HHS Building in 1915

In sports, highly successful athletic teams engendered city-wide enthusiasm. This success gave birth to cheerleaders (which were primarily male) and pep squads (primarily female). The Allagaroo, a unique school yell composed in 1902, was revised between 1910-1912. And in 1930, the Salt Hawk (shortened to Salthawk in the 1990s) became the school’s official mascot.

A number of other developments were taking shape. Students embraced literary clubs, a debate squad, band and later orchestra. The school newspaper was dubbed The Buzz and was first published in 1910. The yearbook was called the Buzz Annual and also appeared in 1910. The annual was renamed the Allagaroo in 1920. In 1925, HHS saw its first Student Council. And in 1936, HHS crowned its first-ever homecoming queen.

In 1916, continued growth resulted in the exile of 9th-grade classes to Sherman and Liberty Junior High Schools. But the town did make room from 1928-1938 for the new Hutchinson Junior College at the 7th and Walnut location where the combined high school and college enrollment topped 1,600.

Glee Club plays in 1915

Track team in 1938

The current campus

In 1960, the old high school building was woefully inadequate and thus a new “space age” campus was built at 13th and Severance, the current home of HHS. This location reflected the northward growth of the town. Honors in competitive speech, sports, and musical competitions continued as part of the HHS legacy. From 1925 through 1968, HHS competed in the state A and AA divisions. In 1969, HHS became a 5A school and made the transition to 6A in 1979. School attendance was between 1,200 and 1,500 during the 1960s and 1970s. By the early 1980s, fewer students allowed the school to once again encompass 9th-grade freshman classes for a renewed four-year program.

1960s Homecoming candidates

1980s Principals

In 2006, Hutchinson voters approved a massive $78 million overhaul of USD 308 school buildings.  For HHS the result was $29 million in renovations for physical education, science, and technology.  The results are impressive and alumni are encouraged to contact the HHSAA about special tours.

New Vocational-Technical Center

Auditorium construction

Currently, HHS has around 1,400 students and, after briefly dipping to 5A status, is once again a class 6A school and enjoying considerable success in a diverse range of boys and girls academic and athletic activities.  The school principal is Ron Roehm and the current teaching staff numbers about 90.  The USD 308 Superintendent is Dr. Shelly Kiblinger who is responsible for an annual  budget of over $69 million and the education of the entire 4,800 student population in USD 308.

“March forever on, ye comrades of the Gold and Blue…”

This famed verse from the HHS school song has become an ongoing reality. Today more than 20,000 living Salthawk alumni are marching onward and making their mark in all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. Three of our most accomplished alumni are honored annually via special Wall of Honor ceremonies co-sponsored by HHSAA.