New book spotlights closed area high schools
REGIONAL – A new book by author James Kenyon that spotlights a collection of accounts from student alumni of closed Iowa high schools features some interesting antecdotes from local historians in both Shelby and Kimballton.
Echoes in the Hallways: History and Recollections of 102 Closed Iowa High Schools hit the shelves this month, documenting institutions from Iowa’s 99 counties, including Shelby and Audubon Counties.
Kenyon consulted county historical records and interviewed former students and teachers, culminating in unique school profiles that include information ranging from the origin and growth of education in each county to sporting records, programs, and school traditions.
“This book was a journey across our great state to all 99 counties and 102 communities to glean information about the town’s organization, early schools, and finally about the high school,” Kenyon said.
In Shelby, Kenyon was able to connect with “two great ladies” in Pat Dea Honeywell (’70) and Nancy Evans Collins (’68) who provided information and encouragement.
“The grand Shelby High School building today has been saved and converted into condominiums,” Kenyon said.
“There are only two others in the book that have been as successful in saving the edifice as Shelby.
“The consolidation with Tennant…in 1959 allowed the high school to continue for another 31 years before (it) was closed in 1991.”
The Kimballton High School closed in 1944, and information and history about the building came from visiting with Annette Anderson, whose mother – Nadjeschda Lynge Overgaard -- had been a teacher at the school.
“She had been in Siberia when the Danish government sent teachers to Russia to help them in their agriculture production,” Kenyon explained. “They then immigrated with all of the Danish migration to the Elk Horn and Kimballton areas.”
The high school there only consisted of the first two years of high school. “They were the only such school to ever be a member of the Iowa High School Athletic Association,” he explained.
Kenyon said high schools have long made up the social fabric in communities across Iowa, especially in rural Iowa.
His book showcases how Iowa built an extraordinary education system school by school.
Kenyon was a veterinarian for 35 years in a mixed animal practice in Cedar Falls, and served for 24 years on the local school board. Echoes in the Hallway is his fourth book, and is available in paperback from the publisher, Meadowlark Books, or through any bookstore.
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