AURELIA - The first school building in Aurelia was built in the early 1870s, and served the town until 1878, when increased population demanded a two-story, four room building, located where the present city park is. The building cost a whopping $4,000.
In 1889, the wooden building was destroyed by fire, but a new, three story building was constructed that same year at the same site. This building cost a reported $15,000, including furniture and heating plant. Two years later, in 1891, the first class graduated, with the members being Orlyn Finch and David Neville. That's it. Just two people.
The following year, the first graduation ceremony was held, and the Class of 1892 had three times as many members as the previous year's class (that would be six, for those of you who didn't take math).
The school remained at the "park" location until 1921, when the building was sold (and later demolished). Students moved into a brand new building in 1921. Since 1962, that building has been referred to by some as "the old school," but for 41 years in Aurelia it was the ONLY school building, as students from grades 1-12 (and, later on, K-12) all had their classes in the sturdy three story brick building on the east end of town.
The school built a new gymnasium in the mid -1950s, allowing basketball players and physical education classes to move up out of the previous gym, located in the basement of the 1921 building. The "old gym" continued to serve as a gymnasium on occasion, for P.E. classes and so forth, but the room's primary use since that time has been as the school's cafeteria.
The only significant change to the Aurelia school facilities over the past 50 years was the construction of a fitness center attached to the north end of the high school building a couple of years ago. The facility is available to community members as well as students.
Grades TK-8 have been attending classes in the 1921 building and the high schoolers in the 1962 building for the past 50 years. A few changes in the 1921 building may need to be made soon to allow easier access for handicapped students. The lunchroom will need to be moved out of the basement area, and third floor classes will need to be moved to a lower floor.
The bottom line is that most, if not all, classes and activities will be taking place on the ground floor level (unless an elevator is installed).
In the fall of 2011, Aurelia students in Grades TK-5 will continue to attend classes in the 1921 building; Grades 6-8 (both Alta and Aurelia students) will be in the 1962 building; and the High School students from both the Aurelia and Alta districts will be attending classes in what is now the Middle School building in Alta.
That building is a relatively new structure, and is undergoing an expansion at this time. The project is expected to be completed by December 2011.
Aurelia's Class of 2011 - 12 strong - will be the last graduating high school class to walk across the gymnasium stage on May 15, 2011.
By the way, I stand corrected. In my earlier article, I stated that the Class of 2011 had 11 girls and one boy. As it turns out, there are twice as many boys in the class as I initially thought - 10 girls and two boys. The ratio of girls to boys in the class is thus not 11 to 1, but rather 5 to 1.
Next up - The history of extra-curricular activities at Aurelia High School.