THE HIGHLAND SCHOOL
Lee Buhler with V. Keith Adamson & Nida Adamson Hall
information from many other sources
The original Highland
School was a one room school built in 1888 on the Southeast corner of 6000 W.
and 10400 N. on land provided by John Hegan, the original homesteader. All the grades were together at first but they
later partitioned it off with a curtain into two rooms and we had a lady
teacher for the younger grades. The
first lady teacher was Miss Amelia Osterloh from Lehi. She drove her buggy up, in the winter thru
the blizzards, to get to school. This
was much concern for the students as they watched for her in the storms. When winter was here for good, and it was
bitter cold, she stayed at the home of Mrs. Duffin, a blind lady who lived on
the northwest corner from the school across the street. Later, as spring came on, she went back to
driving horse and buggy. She being the
first lady teacher we’d ever had, we really looked forward to her and thought
she was really nice. Mr. Simmonds taught
the older ones, also Mr. Orville C. Day.
Other teachers were: James C. Orr (is recorded as the first teacher
although there may have been earlier ones), Mrs. Temple, Francis L. Rasmussen, Rachel Hood, Miss Vance, George T.
Burridge, Minnie Oberhansley (who married Laurence Harmon), George C. Scott,
Mrs. Nicholes, Ariel Jensen (1917 - 19), Rosa Abel, Alice Miller, Mr. DuBois,
Fern Jennette Brown Russon (wife of Lott Erastus), and Helen Smith. In 1893 a school board was formed with George
Y. Myers as President and Stephen Moyle and William Wilcox as members. By 1907, Hyrum Harmon and Amanda Beck had
replaced the last two as members.
In the bitter winter weather the
students would watch for the teacher.
She’d be so late in coming they’d worry that she wasn’t going to make
it. The big, larger boys would stand out
and watch for her, then call to the students to let them know. They’d rush out and help her into the
building, unharness the horse, and put it in the stable on the north side of
the school. Some of the students didn’t
get to come to school on the worst days.
The ones that were further away up towards the canyon were hauled in a
covered wagon. Anyone that lived two
miles away got to ride. When the bell
would ring for school to start they’d line up on the west side of the porch
railing along the cement sidewalk and keep time. Especially they loved to mark time. The teacher would count them off as they
marched into the room; maybe someone played music of some kind as they marched
They had some fine times at
recess. Sometimes Mr. Day would get so
enthused with the games that he forgot to ring the bell. He’d be out there playing with them, like
baseball or steal the stick, when all of a sudden he’d realize it and tell them
to come quickly so they could get started on the lessons.
Those good old days they had real fun
times in Highland. It was hard to get to school, and hard to get
home, but they always loved that old school house in the spot where the
Highland church now stands. The old
adobe brick is still in the framework of the present building. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
purchased the building from Alpine School District in 1930 for $300 to use as a
church house. David H. Adamson was the
trustee of the Highland
School at the time, also
Louis Strasburg and others.
About 1915 they built another room
onto the east side of the building, making a porch on the south side where we
could hang our coats. We would then go through double doors to either room,
with a little library and place to store desks in the middle. The five grades of the school had a row for
each grade. The older ones helped the
younger ones with their reading. They
did many things as a group and other things as a grade. But all had recess together and lunch
time. They all brought a sandwich from
home wrapped in a newspaper, perhaps deviled meat or fried egg and salad
dressing on homemade bread. There was no
lawn to sit on, only the ditch bank or the cement walk. There were no trees or shrubs, a few trees on
the north side along the ditch and fence by the stable. Quite a few had horses to ride to school, but
mostly everybody walked, and it wasn’t a hardship because everybody did it.
By now they were having eight grades,
the three older ones on one side and the five younger ones on the other. George C. Scott, who later taught school in American Fork High School,
was the Principal at this time. Mrs.
Nicholes was one of the few lady teachers, especially a married lady, who
taught in those days. Her husband was
disabled and she needed the work to support the family.
They had a well outside that they hand
pumped the water from in a bucket. They
also had two outdoor toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls. They both had a shield around so no one could
see in. The boys used to chase the girls
a great deal in those days and they’d run for refuge into the girl’s toilet…so
they’d dare each other to see who’d go closest to the girl’s toilet and maybe
pound on the wall so they’d scream.
Whoever could do that made a lot of points for the game…great fun.
Another game they played was
“Annie-I-Over”. They’d divide up sides
and one group would stand on one side of the school building and one on the
other and they’d throw the ball up over the roof and call “Annie-I-Over”. As the ball came down on the other side some
one would catch it and the whole team would run around the school one way or
the other, we’d never know which way they would come, they would throw the ball
and try to hit us to make points for them.
This one time we both went for the same corner and kamash!! We knocked our heads together and fell
Other times they’d play baseball, rounders,
or choose sides. Also play hopscotch, or
the boys played marbles, the girls played jump the rope. In later years when they didn’t use the
stable for horses, the kids would play there at recess.
They all used to go on May walks when
the weather was good. They would braid
the Maypole for the 24th of July celebration. Kids nowadays wouldn’t know what that
In the winter time they’d go down to
the canal at noon and skate on the ice in the canal. We were called to school by a school bell
which the teacher would bring outside and ring in her hand. The canal was quite far away and sometimes
we’d act like we didn’t hear it, so we could play longer, and they’d have to
send someone down to tell us it was quitting time.
One time on April Fool’s Day the older
boys got there early and hid the bell, so when it came time to call us in for
school that morning, Mr. Scott came out with a bucket and pounded on it with a
stick to call us in. Then when it came
time for recess there was no bell to ring to release them for recess. He made it known then, unless the bell showed
up there’d be no noon, so the bell was soon brought back.
Out on the east side was a big ditch
bank that was the main place to play.
They’d dig tunnels back into this ditch bank and take little sardine
cans and tie strings on them to pull them through the tunnels to a place where
they could spill dirt down into them to fill them up. Then they found a way to blast!! One boy brought some 22 shells to
school. They would wrap them in
newspaper and poke them way back in the tunnel and light the newspaper. The shell would explode and blow the dirt
up. A girl told the teacher and this boy
had to lay his hands across the desk so the teacher could rap him across the
knuckles with a ruler. One lesson
Another lesson we learned from this
teacher was that when they misbehaved she’d have them lay their heads down on
the desk. One day the whole room was
being disciplined. She told us all to
put our heads down and not to raise them until she told us to, then she walked
out. After she left of course we all
raised our heads….when we heard her coming back we all put them down again
fast, because none of us could go home ‘til she said. She came back into the room and asked,
“Alright, all who raised their heads while I was gone, raise your hand.” Only one boy was brave enough to raise his
hand. She said, “O.K. you are excused to
go home, the rest will have to stay longer.”
Just south of the school was the old
well where we could pump us a drink of water with the old hand pump when we
needed one. The school was heated by
wood and coal in an old pot-bellied stove.
Someone had to come early in the morning and build the fire to get the
room warmed in the wintertime. Winters
were fierce and bitter cold on Highland in those days - not the mild ones we
have now. The snow would blow and cover
up the fences. Water in a bucket in the
school would have ice on it some days.
This building was the center of
activity in Highland. Church was held here on Sundays. The socials and weddings with Carter’s
Orchestra from Lehi playing for dances in the evening were always well-attended. Many banquets were cooked and served there as
good cooks were plentiful.
About 1927 they started busing the
Highland children to American Fork, Harrington Elementary, to go to school and
no more school was held on Highland
until the new Highland Elementary was built in 1979. They were driven down there in a wagon pulled
by horses from two or three different areas, as it was thought they would have
more advantages in a larger school.
THE SCHOOL BUS THE
The mode of transportation for the
first students of American Fork High School from Alpine and Highland was rather
unique. Don C. Strong Sr. fixed up a
sheep camp wagon and with a good team of horses and drove them to school rain
or shine. The students arose very early
to make it to school on time. They left
soon after daylight and arrived home about dark, it being six miles from Alpine
and four miles from Highland. In the
winter, a stove was set up in the wagon to keep them warm. After a year or two, Sterling Devey and Ralph
Strong drove for a while, John Healey for a few months. Ralph drove his father’s team and wagon. During school hours they would ‘put up’ in
Chipman’s lumber yard. They had a good
old time riding back and forth. One time
some Alpine boys pulled a prank of blowing up a bridge after they had crossed
over it, then were in fear of punishment, they got it!!
Leonard Bates made more modern
transportation - a GMC panel truck with wire sides and curtains to pull down in
bad weather through the winter. Seats
were made of 2 x 12’s along the sides.
However, there weren’t many students from Alpine and Highland.
About 1920 Benjamin
Bates and his sons ran a blacksmith shop in American Fork, ideal for a bus
driver. He built a truck body that had a double bench
down the middle and one on each side.
This held about 40 people. The
seats were covered with padded canvas.
Windows ran along the sides, with a door in back. You stepped up on a high step by holding onto
a handle to get up in. The daring ones
would ride on the steps for a ways, but if you got caught you would have to walk
home as that was against the rules. Also,
if you were caught fighting, you were put off the bus to walk also. We didn’t do that too often.
Vernal Bates, from Alpine, drove a few
years then after he died, Russ Bates drove ‘til they gave up the contract. They would drop the students off at the High
School on the Hill, then go down to American Fork Main Street and work at their
Blacksmith shop ‘til time to pick up the load at the close of the school day. Highland students called it a “Jitney.” Such good memories! As time passed, larger and better buses
became available; the school district purchased the buses and hired the
& information courtesy of Jennie Wild of Alpine & Keith Adamson of
Highland. Pictured: Elizabeth Wilkins