Lassen Union High School - A Historical Review
In 1872, the first discussions were held to form a high school. It would take thirty years before it became a reality. For awhile hope was on the horizon, when in 1875 Masillion Marstellar established the Susanville High School -a private institution. This school would continue to operate for six years when it finally closed its doors.
It was not until the spring of 1901 when E.W. Hayden, editor of the Lassen Advocate raised the issue for the need of a high school. Hayden proposed a district high school, rather than a county one. Hayden felt that all the school districts in the county would not support a high school.
In the fall of 1902, Hayden again revived the issue for a high school. This time he succeeded in generating more interest. In September, John B. Spalding and Franklin M. Ward circulated petitions to have the matter placed on the ballot for the November election. On October 2, 19 02 , those petitions were placed before the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and they approved the ballot measure.
Proponents were worried that the voter's might confuse the issue as a bond measure. Yet, funding for a high school still had to be addressed. It was proposed that the property tax rate be increased by one cent per $100 assessed value. This tax would generate $3,700 a year-more than sufficient to operate a high school.
As the ballot proposition called for the creation of a county high school, there was Hayden's concern that it might not pass, especially with the voters far removed from Susanville. Surprisingly many of the outlying districts were supportive of the measure. After all, the nearest high school available for most was in Reno , Nevada .
On November 4, 19 02 , the voters of Lassen County went to the polls. The voters approved the creation of the Lassen County High School by a large majority with 637 votes in favor versus 295 opposed. Of course, it came as no surprise that Bieber strongly opposed it, with a vote of 110 against and 38 in favor. Though, Hayden Hill neighboring the Bieber precinct voted 17 in favor and 2 against.
On September 14,1903 , the first session of the Lassen County High School began with approximately forty students. The faculty consisted of two instructors, F.C. Schofield (who also served as principal) and George H. Barton. Classes were held at the Susanville Grammar School , the site of the current Credence High School .
In April 1904, the Rays of the Purple made its debut and thus the school's annual publication was inaugurated. In the early years it was published twice year. Thanks to the dedication of Charles Dickens, Class of 1950, all of the Rays from the Purple from 1904 through 2008 maybe viewed at www.eskimo.com/~cdickens/lassenhigh2008cd.htm
At this same time, some progressive citizens deemed that it was important for the need of a separate place for a high school. There were two obstacles to overcome. The first, of course, was how to finance it. A legal entanglement occurred as to whether a bond issue could be placed. A solution was found and the Lassen County Board of Supervisors agreed to a special levy property tax. The next hurdle to overcome was the selection of a site. Three properties were reviewed. It was agreed to purchase the Blake property on Main Street for $2,000. This is still the present high school grounds, though additional property has since been acquired.
W.H. Weeks, an architect from Watsonville , California was commissioned to draw up the plans. Weeks presented the school's trustees three different proposals, and the trustees accepted plan number three. On July 13, 19 05 , the Granite Rock Company was awarded the contract to build the school at a cost of $25,670. On September 23, 19 05 , witnessed the laying of the cornerstone. The new high school would not be ready for occupancy until October 1906.
On Tuesday evening, June 12, 1906 , saw the first graduates of Lassen County High School . This, it should be noted, those graduates were enrolled in a three year commercial study. Those awarded diplomas were: Laura A. Lowe, Maybelle Grass, Lola Mae Hunsinger, Martha Hunsinger, John J. Long, Ralph D. Taylor and Winfield Riley.
The class of 1907, was the first four year class to graduate. The graduates were: Medford Roop Arnold, Jessie B. Hulsman, Hanchen M. Lesser, Jeanette Alexander, Kate M. DeForest, Ruth Hemler, Evelyn Hulsman, Lena Cahlan, Wright Spalding, Percy Holmes and Ralph D. Taylor.
A lot has transpired since that first graduating class. The following are some highlights over the years.
1916 - Name is changed to Lassen Union High School with the establishment of a second high school in county at Westwood.
1920 - The first gymnasium is constructed at a cost of $75,000.
1924 - Bus service is instituted for area around Standish and Janesville .
1925 - Lassen Junior College is formed and classes held at the high school.
1925 - First night classes are held.
1928 - A large "L" is painted on the mountain north of Susanville by the Block L Society.
1929 - East Addition constructed to the High School
1931- First Senior Ditch Day held.
1949 - Pacific Street Gym built
1968 - The original school torn down, construction begins on the new campus.
1971 - Lassen Junior College moves to its own campus on Highway 139.
1984 - The Lassen High Alumni Association is formed.
The preservation of the history of the high school is an ongoing project. If you have something that you would like to contribute contact Tim Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the Lassen High Alumni Association at P.O. Box 471 , Susanville , California 96130 .
Tim I. Purdy