Anchorage High School Memories
Did you know that the Pioneer School House began will all grades, including High School students? Later came Anchorage High School, West and then East.
Anchorage’s first school was built in 1915
Built in only about one month, the building was considered “entirely inadequate” and “unsanitary”.
There was no paint, no restrooms, and the unheated outdoor toilets did not even meet the tent city’s standards.
School students, including high school, had no running water and there were two classrooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. Both had a wood burning oil drum for heat, gaslights and home-made desks, each big enough for four students.
And when it got dark during those winter afternoons, the small number of high school students used lamps, while elementary students went home.
Orah Dee Clark
Pictured above is the first Principal and Superintendent for the first Anchorage school and high school, Orah Dee Clark, who also taught high school History and English in the two-story school. And yes, Orah Dee Clark Junior High was named after her.
Located at 3rd and Eagle street
Later, the Pioneer School House became a Social Hall and was used by the Pioneers of Anchorage, Igloo 15 from the 1920s to 1964. The building is now on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places (since 1980).
You can learn more about the Pioneer School House and discover.
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“Rah, rah, sis cum bah, I love my high school, rah, rah, rah!”
Anchorage High School
Opened January 28, 1939
Located at 5th Avenue and F street
This building included a 570 seat auditorium, which was also used for large public meetings. There was also a grade school.
One year, the senior class had to hold its graduation ceremony in the 4th Avenue Theatre because someone (a student?) tried to burn down Anchorage High School.
West High School
Formerly Anchorage High School, West High opened in 1953.
Built on Romig Hill, which is named after Joseph Herman Romig, a frontier doctor and Moravian Church Missionary. Romig was the Mayor of Anchorage from 1937 to 1938.
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Starks
Anchorage High School Band in a 1956 parade. The Drum Major is Wanda Turner (Kimberly’s mom).
The West High Eagle
Take a look at this history of West High School and enjoy.
East High School
East High, 1966
Photo from the 1966 East High Year Book.
East High first opened in 1961. Ray Dougherty (father of Mike of Anchorage Memories), helped clear the land for East. As they cleared the land, it was so muddy that one of the bulldozers sank over its engine before they could pull it back out.
East High Football, Jack Boucher with the ball, 1966
Photo from the 1966 East High Year Book
Take a look at East Anchorage High School Daze written by Michael Hankins.
East – West Rivalry
When it was just West High and East High in Anchorage, you may recall the rivalry between the student body of the schools.
West high students would say, “East is least and West is best”.
When the East High band played the West High fight song as a courtesy during East home games, there was a spot in the song where West students said, “Rah, Rah, Rah”. But East High students would shout “Barf, Barf, Barf”. Hey, they were High School students.
Remembering the 1964 Alaska Earthquake
Photo by Diane Smith – JC Penney Building in the background
5:36pm, Good Friday, March 27th, 1964
The earth began to shake like never before. As the earth rumbled and roared, buildings, roads, and sidewalks were torn apart.
There was no place to hide.
And it seemed as though it would never end.
What are your 1964 earthquake memories?
Take a look at these 1964 Earthquake Memories told by survivors of the quake.
1964 Earthquake Damage
West High School was damaged by the 1964 earthquake.
Because it was Good Friday, Anchorage school students had the day off.
That was a Blessing.
However, as a result of the damage to West High School, West and East students had to double shift at East High.
East had school in the morning and West High School students were brought in by bus in the afternoon.
High School Fun
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Burgis
The Bun Drive-In 1963
Remember the Bun Drive-In and The Coke Show?
Anchorage high school teens spent a lot of time visiting this drive-in and listening to DJ Ron Moore doing The Coke Show from the small radio booth on top of the drive-in.
Mike of Anchorage Memories worked with Ron in the booth during the Coke Show for a time. Ron gave Mike the on-air name, “Mighty Michael”.
And do you remember when you could call in your request and make a dedication?
You can listen to The Coke Show again and enjoy.
Relive those fun Coke Show days with Ron Moore and remember when.
So, Which High School Did You Attend in Anchorage?
Yes, we know. This edition of Anchorage Memories VIP, only featured the first High Schools in Anchorage. So if you didn’t attend Anchorage High School, West or East, you can always tell us about your high school in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
The Bell Has Rung and our School Day Has Ended
Did you enjoy this fun look back at Anchorage High School Memories?
Did the memories come flooding back of those special days when you were in high school?
When Mike was a high school Junior, he was standing at the bus stop one morning. As he stood there, he overheard a high school senior say, “only a few more months of school and I have to work for the rest of my life.”
Mary and Mike would love to read your comments about this edition. You can even contact us with a suggestion, or just to say “hello”. We would love to hear from you.
To contact us, you can reply to this email, or Contact Us right now.
Until Next Time – remember to polish up those apples for your favorite teachers.
Mike and Mary
Hi, Mike. Love getting your content which brings back so many memories. My parents brought me up to Anchorage in 1952 and it has been home since except for outside professional schools. One thing: Everyone seems to remember the Bun Drive-In and the Coke Show but during my days around that time, my friends and I spent most of our time at a club for teens only on the east side of Spenard Road just south of NLights (straight west of the old REI). It was called Cinnamon Cinder where we enjoyed rock and roll, dancing and non-alcoholic drinks. No one seems to recall it except a few of my (now aging out) friends I grew up with here in Fairview (Eastchester).