WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita East High School is celebrating 100 years with celebrations and events on Friday and Saturday. The event is open to the public.
“We’ve got band show, choir show, dancers our jazz band,” Principal Sara Richardson said. “We have self-guided tours going on and just kind of a fun atmosphere all the way up until three o’clock that really everyone and anyone in the community is invited to.”
Wichita High School opened in 1873, but on Oct. 8, 1923, Wichita High School opened at Douglas and Grove. It then became Wichita High School East when Wichita High School North opened in 1929.
“We take a lot of pride in being the original, the heart of the city, heart of the community,” Richardson said. “Our current kids, the legacy of multiple generational families that come through here, are very excited to celebrate their family’s history, their school’s history, and then we’re doing, I think a nice job of bridging the gap between the past and the present and then on to the future.”
Over 55,000 graduates have come through the school. Principal Richardson says it is the biggest high school in Kansas with over 2,300 students. In 1929, there were about 1,400 students.
“I think the district has done a nice job of keeping this building the heart of the city,” Richardson said. “It might have been actually cost intuitive just to build a new building as we’ve had to spend millions of dollars just making sure this building is still standing. But the location of this building and the history of the tower is meaningful to the city, meaningful for the kids, meaningful alumni and meaningful for the future.”
The first and only varsity high school football game will be played on the field for the homecoming game Friday night. Alumni cheerleaders and football players will join them on the field.
The 100-year milestone is incorporated into the students’ days.
“We put up 100 notable alumni, one for every year,” Richardson said. “We’ve done some research projects on who our alumni are, what they’ve done, how they’ve given back. We’ve done 100 years through history for history classes. We’ve just done a lot of cool things. Our music department has done a lot on the history of our fight song.”
Thirty-two of the staff members at East are alumni, that is 17% of the employees. Durham Rogers is a teacher at East High School who graduated in 1999. His family members taught there in the 60s-80s. He says the 100-year anniversary is surreal.
“I really valued my time here,” Rogers said. “I feel like my time at East made me into part of the person that I am today. I walk the hallways of this building and see the different people that have graduated from here and what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished, and tell me public schools don’t work.”
He says the building has changed a lot since he was in high school, but the school has always been very diverse, which is one of his favorite parts.