In the early part of the 1920s New Philadelphia's City School District faced the problem of overcrowdedness. The Board of Education began discussing plans for the building of a Junior High School. In September of 1924, the State of Ohio Department of Industrial Relations and Inspector Nichols furthered the cause by stating insufficient air space in the Central High School for the student population. The state required alleviation of the problem by the start of the 1926 school year. In order to comply with the order, the School Board ordered a bond issue of $375,000 to be placed on the November 4 ballot. J.E. Hurst, editor of The Daily Times, asked the town to put aside personal preferences and think about the future. New Philadelphia's students deserved educational advantages. County Superintendent Barthelmeh said the children now in school were the future problem-solvers of America and a lack of investment in education would be disastrous. Although farmers faced hard times, the schools had to carry on. The bond issue passed by a vote of 4005 to 1092, a four to one margin. Every precinct in every ward gave a majority to the levy. Once the issue passed the school needed to get approval from the Industrial Relations Department of the plans drawn up by architects Walker and Norwick of Dayton, Ohio. The system did not receive this approval until July of 1925, but in the meantime the School Board set about the process of building a school which they expected to last at least fifty years. Acquisition of land was the first step.
The board empowered FW Andrews and James Congleton to speak to Charles and Lavina Steinbaugh, Earl, Bonnel and Sarah Wood about purchasing their property adjacent to the high school on Ray and Seventh Streets (now Fourth Street NW). Some negotiation on price was involved in these transactions but on February 19, 1925 the School Board paid the three people a total of $23,000 for their property. $25,000 more than the board's original offers. In April the School Board held an auction for the buildings on the property which sold for just over $2300.
In March of 1925 Homer G. Frew, the Worshipful Master of New Philadelphia Lodge #177 of the Free and Accepted Masons, requested that the lodge be granted the privilege of laying the cornerstone of the new Junior High. The Board undertook this and many other "housekeeping" details that Spring. Window, heating and ventilating companies such as the Fenestra Steel Window Company, Williams Pivot Sash Company and the Univent Ventilating System demonstrated their various products hoping to get contracts from the School Board.
Once the State Board approved the architectural plans for the Junior High, the Board advertised in various papers for bids on the project. The Board accepted the bids on August 12 and on the thirteenth made their decisions from the thirty-three bidders. Charles Heintzelmann, a local man awarded the general contract, began construction in the fall of 1925. Others receiving contracts included A.C. Eynon Plumbing of Canton for the heating, Radio Electronic Company of Washington Court House for the electronic work and Bacon and Saunders of Dayton for the plumbing. The businessmen of New Philadelphia pressured the School Board to appoint a local man to superintend the building of the Junior High. Frank L. Ritter was the man recommended and approved. The original plans called for 25 school rooms, a cafateria, an auditorium which seated 750, a gymnasium that could accommodate 750, and special workshops for manual training and domestic science classes.
The Junior High, slated to be finished by August 20, 1926, had an estimated final cost of $303,503. In the ensuing time period before the completion of the school, the Board of Education dealt with further details such as furniture bids, requirements for the Junior High teachers and the naming of the school. Hiring of some of the first teachers at the new school year occurred with the stipulation that they complete more schooling. Beginning with the 1927 school year, teachers at the Junior High would have to meet the same requirements as those teaching Senior High.
On October 23, 1925, the Board decided to name the new school Joseph Welty Junior High. Joseph Welty, the Superintendent of New Philadelphia City Schools for twenty-five years, helped shape the district in the mid-1800s. The first to be called a superintendent, he earned $500 his first year. During his tenure he and another man designed and built an addition to the Union School, the only school in New Philadelphia at that time. Besides supervising and teaching duties, Welty dealt with the maintenance and upkeep of the school and purchasing materials for the system. For three years during the Civil War, two other men unseated Welty at the position but he again took over as superintendent in 1865. When the school burned in 1877, Welty traveled across the state visiting schools to find a suitable model for New Phila's school. It opened in 1878. In Welty's final year in the position he earned $1300. Because of his years of service to the school district, his name adorns the Junior High.
During the summer of 1926, the Board watched the progress of the new school. At the July 23 Board meeting, the Board decided to postpone the school year until September 13, in hopes that the school would be completed. This delay did not help, however. Children did not begin using Welty Junior High until Monday, November 29. Grades seven through nine attended the school. All grades studied English, music, and physical education. Students in seventh and ninth grades studied sewing and manual training while eighth graders learned health and good citizenship, cooking and mechanical drawing. General science, algebra or commercial arithmetic and Latin or vocational civics were electives for the ninth grade students.
In February of 1927, the School Board decided the new school needed to be dedicated. On Thursday, February twenty-fourth the Junior High students would have no school. Elementary and Senior High students only had to attend half of day. From one until five in the afternoon that day and from one until four on Saturday, the public could inspect the new facility. The dedication program then began at eight o'clock on Thursday. Reverend Herman C. Getter of Emmanuel Lutheran Church gave the invocation. Speakers at the dedication included the president of the Board of Education, Alvin F. Graff, and Superintendent Franklin P. Geiger. Out of town special speakers included Reverend Charles R. Bowers of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, who spoke about athletics being secondary to scholastic attainments. Carrington T. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, said that government, religion, and orals faced attack in that era's society. Education was the one force that could stabilize society. No country could rise higher than the intelligence of its people. Schools implied sacrifice, but kept America great. The School Board paid Rev. Bowers fifty dollars and the chief justice made only twenty-five dollars. Reverend P. Blaine Schaffner of the First M.E. Church in New Philadelphia gave the benediction. Local talent also performed during the ceremony.
As the School Board worked on building the new junior high, it also handled other issues such as school personnel. On April 12,1926, Superintendant Franklin P. Geiger presented a resolution to the Board calling for no more married female teachers. Teachers already working in the system could remain, but single women who married during the school year would face termination and the board would hire no married women. This situation continued until the 1943-44 school year. World War II enlistment and factory work produced teacher shortages. The decision to employ married women, however, was not permanent. Every year until 1951 the Board decided whether they would hire married women as teachers. After the 1951-52 school year, mention of the issue ceased.
The economic crisis faced by the nation following the Stock Market Crash in October 1929 had overarching affects across all levels of society. Education faced problems, the New Philadelphia school system not excepted. To deal with the crisis the school board took advances on tax appropriations, cut salaries, abolished sick leave and did away with art and mechanical drawing classes. The board asked teachers to teach one month for free and Superintendent Geiger resigned, his replacement being paid $2000 less dollars. The school system had to scramble and make things up as they went along, but the schools never closed and the students never had to pay tuition.
Students in New Philadelphia's schools had special days in which they helped out those less fortunate classmates. In 1930, Donation Day brought needed items. In 1932, Potato Day saw receipt of such commodities as fruit, vegetables, clothing, shoes, and other needed items. Some of President Roosevelt's "Alphabet Soup" of federal programs also worked for the benefit of New Philadelphia's school and Welty Junior High. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) gave money to build Quaker Stadium and the Civil Works Administration (CWA) painted the trim and interior of Welty Junior High.
It was during this time period that an important man in Welty's history assumed his position. In 1933, William Fishel became the junior high principal. He remained in this position until 1966 when he resigned. During his years at Welty, Fishel had an effect on students. The Welty Echo, the school newspaper, often contained columns by him over such topics as friendship, cleanliness, respect and especially the value of education.
The 1930's also saw Welty news become town news. Beginning in November in 1932, every Friday's edition of The Daily Times contained a column called "Welty Junior High School News." The articles were written and edited by Welty's students. Editors included Jean Wright, Helen L. Eckert, Ted Fisher, F. Hoememann and faculty advisor Leilia Culby. Many articles reflected the lean times of the Depression.
Also in the 1930s, Welty's student council was organized by Miss Edith Milar. Being the voice of the student body, it had charge of the activity program of the school. It consisted of four officers and a representative and alternate representative from each homeroom, each elected by the student body. The students attended meetings on Tuesdays and then reported to their homerooms for feedback and discussion. With the organization students learned more about the democratic way of life.
In 1940 the State of Ohio passed a law that benefited teachers all over the state. Teachers with five years prior experience in the district could receive continuing contracts beginning with the 1941 school year. Training and experience would determine pay based on an equal scale.
The start of America's involvement in World War II brought problems to schools. In New Philadelphia, many men and few women teachers resigned to serve the country. In 1943 the board would not allow teachers to leave their jobs to take more profitable factory jobs. When the war ended, shortages remained because many who had gone to war did not return to their teaching positions. Students at the junior high could earn Certificates of Merit during this time for buying war stamps.
The 1950s saw a major change in the structure of New Philadelphia's school . The school, based on a plan where children attended six years of elementary school, three years of junior high, and three years of high school, became at the start of the 1951-52 school year a 6-6 plan where students attended elementary school for six years and high school for six years. The elimination of the position of a junior high principal brought Fishel to the six year high school as principal. Reinstatement of the old plan came in 1961.
Students who attended New Phila's schools during this time do not remember it being two six year systems. When in grades seven through nine, they still thought of themselves as in junior high even though they had no principal. Their pictures were, however, included in the Delphian yearbook.
In the early 1950's, the voters of New Philadelphia passed a bond levy to build a new East Elementary school. Also included in the levy were funds for new seats, lights, and a roof for Welty's auditorium. Other nonstructural additions to Welty in the late fifties included a class for handicapped students age 11 to 18 taught by James Fincher in 1958. The teacher had students with emotional and behavioral problems of the wide age group of students. Students from York Elementary made up the other addition. In 1959, they began attending Welty instead of going to the elementary school for eight grades.
The National Honor Society for both the junior and senior high schools began in 1959. Mr.Fishel created the program in the schools. The requirements included a 3.5 grade point average, good citizenship and conduct, and activities outside of the classroom. The faculty recommended members. The society's purpose at Welty was to promote scholarship.
The sixties were a tumultuous era of American history and really, things were not too different for the New Philadelphia school system. Mr.Fishel resigned after over thirty years of service. Students held protests when the board released two teachers and a group discussed racial inequality with the school board. Superintendents with doctoral degrees, something new for the system, discussed changes in New Phila's school structure. Discussion of building a new junior high for grades six through eight in the study that recommended the merging of Dover and New Philadelphia's school districts. The board approved the plan, but voters in both towns defeated the proposal.
The 1962-63 school year saw the start of The Welty Echo. It was a weekly paper with reporters at athletic events, assemblies and evening programs. It featured articles, gossip columns, and classroom projects. Its original purpose was to keep the student body informed of activities and to promote school spirit. Its name came from America's first space satellite. Besides the start of the school paper, the 1962 school year witnessed some other firsts for the students of Welty--the junior high stage band, dances, speech club, leader's club, a book room, and a reading program.
Following the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1964, the student council sent a letter of condolence to Jacqueline Kennedy. A card of appreciation was then received by the council.
The 1970's--Educational Rights
The 1970s brought about some new things, such as reinstatement of girls sports in 1970 and took away some familiar things such as religious education in 1972. Until that time even The Welty Echo contained religious information. Instead of the Christmas edition with Mary and Joseph on the cover, it would now have to have Santa Claus and the Easter edition would no longer contain a cross and lillies, but a rabbit and eggs.
In 1972, a law passed in the state that gave students educational rights. Students could no longer be denied public education because of behavioral problems, the inability to learn, or physical or mental handicaps. Segregation of these students was unconstitutional and mainstreaming became prevalent. Individual Education Programs (IEPs) had to be written for handicapped students which stated how they would be educated.
For two years in this decade, Welty had a different time schedule than either the grade schools or the senior high. The Welty students attended school from 7:30 until 2:15. The high school ran from 9:42 until 4:24 and elementary school kids attended from 8:30 to 3:15. Walkers and bussed students started at different times at Welty. These varied schedules caused transportation problems for the school district.
The Echos of this time period included many articles about typical problems of the time---drug use, appearance, long hair, and ecology. During the 1970-71 school year, revision of the dress code took place. Girls could wear dress slacks from November to March. The following year saw further change, which allowed females to wear dress slacks all year round.
In the 1970s, Welty's attendance hit an all time high. The seventh grade class of 1972 had 407 students. New sports teams came about in the 70s. Freshman golf was added in 1976. The Freshman girls got a basketball team other than intramural in the same year. And, in the Spring of 1977, the junior high boys formed a baseball team.
At the end of the decade, the junior high was restructured to contain only the seventh and eighth grade students. Because of this, remodeling made the office smaller and guidance officers were added. Other improvements included repair of the cement trim and installation of energy efficient windows. State regulations set the thermostats at 65 degrees. The student council held special elections because of the restructuring. Their ninth grade officers were now in high school.
The beginning of the decade of the 1980s saw some discord between teachers and the administration. On January 23,1981, the teachers went on strike. The crisis only lasted one day, however, and teachers returned to their classrooms. The junior high lost some familiar faces to retirement in the 80s. In 1983, Calvin Eckert retired and in 1884 Homer Keppler followed him.
It was during this decade that the annual eighth grade trip to Washington,D.C. began. The first trip took place in the 1987-1988 school year. In the later years of the time period budget problems became noticeable. The focus of The Welty Echo went from student reporting on school news to student composition. It was no longer as informative as it had been in earlier years.
The biggest news for Welty Junior High in this decade was the fire on March 4, 1990, that destroyed the high school library and ten other rooms. While no part of the junior high burned, the building suffered extensive smoke damage. The Uhrichsville firefighters watched the area between the two facilities, making sure the fire did not spread to Welty. The school board had to cancel both junior and senior high classes for the rest of the week and relocation of students for the rest of the year became imperative. Junior high students went back to school Monday, March 11 at area churches while the high school students attended school at the Tuscarawas Campus of Kent State University and Buckeye Joint Vocational School. The Junior high students were guests at the First Christian Church, First United Methodist Church and special education classes attended the United Church of Christ. The students treated these facilities with respect and did not even use pens or markers in them. The students did not have access to their lockers. They eventually retrieved their contents in numbered plastic bags. The situation challenged teachers and students alike. Teachers only had the chance at first to rescue one box of supplies from their classrooms. In an article in the Times Reporter, Welty's teachers said their average of twenty-one years of teaching would help them adapt to the situation. Students had to make adjustments. Instead of walking around hallways to change classes, they had to walk down the block to a different church. Many people in the community lent a helping hand. The Tuscarawas County YMCA let junior and senior high students in for free at certain times. Three hundred parents and volunteers assisted to make sure the school at the churches ran smoothly. The students returned to a remodeled Welty the following school year.
The 1990-91 school year brought another change to Welty, this time in philosophy. Always a junior high that functioned similar to the senior high, Welty made the transition to a middle school---a unique system for educating those students between the ages of eleven and fourteen. The new philosophy embraces such tenets as the best possible atmosphere and opportunity for the maximum educational experience, developing contributing members of society, promoting critical thinking skills and social-emotional growth, and nurturing a healthy self-concept.
The new middle school has seventeen goals to help achieve the philosophy. The school is organized into small communities of students with 115 to 150 students to a group. Each section has a mixture of achievement levels and geographic locations. Each grade level consists of two of these small groups called houses. The student's academic program includes study of English, mathematics, science, social studies, reading, literature and written composition, and computer literacy.
Thanks to Kim (Lab) Jurkovic for her hard work!