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2004
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Colerain High School Alumni Association

The History of Colerain High School

1924 – Present

Colerain High School, founded in 1924, has a solid reputation of serving the community with outstanding academic and extracurricular programs that have prepared its students for the workforce, post secondary education, and military service.  The school district, serving Colerain Township and parts of Green and Springfield Townships, has grown from one school serving students in grades 1 – 12 to nine elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools.  Graduates of Colerain High School have excelled in all walks of life.  The 21st Century provides a unique set of challenges in educating the students of the community.  The staff and administration are taking the appropriate steps to insure that today’s students are prepared to excel in whatever career they choose.

Early History – 1800 – 1930

There were thirteen one and two room schools in Colerain Township prior to 1924.  Below are examples of three schools that served the community.

Groesbeck School – near the site of Post Office previously located on Galbraith Rd.

 

Barnesburg School

 

Blue Rock School – located near the intersection of Blue Rock and East Miami River Rd.

 

Round Top School, located near the site of Colerain Bowl, was originally a two-year high school and it eventually became a three-year high school.  Students wishing to complete a four-year high school curriculum typically went to Mt. Healthy High School.

Construction on the first Colerain Centralized School began in 1922 and was completed in 1924.  The cost was $1,227,114.  There were eight classrooms plus a gym and stage on the second floor. 

 

The school opened in the fall of 1924 with 371 students and nine teachers.  Students were transported in privately run buses.  Each student was required to purchase his or her textbooks until 1930, as these were not provided by the Board of Education.  Books were available at Picken’s store across the street on Springdale Rd.  A PTA “Mother’s Club” provided extra items for the school and students not provided by the Board of Education.  As an example, the PTA covered the cost of the school’s telephone.

A cafeteria was not available until 1930.  Prior to the construction of the cafeteria, students brought their lunch to school.  When the cafeteria opened, the typical lunch cost was between thirteen and fifteen cents with milk costing two cents.   PTA volunteers staffed the cafeteria.

The first commencement ceremony was held in the Spring of 1925.  There were nine graduates.  Below is a photograph of the first graduating class as well as a copy of the Commencement program.  Members of the first graduating class were reunited at the 1989 commencement ceremony.  Four alumni were able to attend and are pictured below.

 

Why Colerain Cardinals ?

Richard Joyce, Class of 1925, related in 1989 that an essay contest was held to name the school’s mascot.  At the time, there were three outstanding professional baseball teams: the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals.  Joyce submitted his essay stating that because the Cardinals were the best team at the time that Colerain should also be called the Cardinals because he felt that Colerain should be identified with the best as well.  His presentation was so convincing that the students, faculty, and administration overwhelmingly supported his proposal and Colerain has been the Cardinals ever since.

Student activities consisted primarily of athletics, a student newspaper, and school plays.  A music program was started in 1929 when the PTA recruited, hired, and paid a music teacher.  The first school band was organized a year later in 1930.  Clubs and yearbooks didn’t begin until the 1940s.    Boys participated in Soccer, Basketball, and Baseball.  Girls played Basketball and Softball.  Mr. Struble and Mr. Taylor coached both the boys and girls teams for all sports.  Practices and games were after school as outdoor lighting was not available on game fields.  The athletic field ran parallel to what is now the Colerain Township building on Springdale Rd.  The gym on the second floor of the school also served as an auditorium and it was extremely small with a low ceiling.  Girls Basketball games were played before the Boys games, as there were no junior varsity or freshman teams.
1925 Boys Basketball 1925 Girls Baseball

 

1925 Baseball

 

Depression Era and World War II – 1931 – 1945

The area remained largely a rural, farming community.  Small merchants had businesses located in Groesbeck, Bevis, and Dunlap.    One had to travel to Mt. Healthy or College Hill for entertainment or evening dining.  However, there was enough growth in the community to warrant the construction of a second building that became Colerain High School from 1931 – 1964.  The building accommodated student in grades 7 – 12.  The Board of Education instituted a policy that it would provide textbooks for students eliminating the need for each student to incur the expense.  Without this step, it is likely that enrollment would have decreased as the Great Depression put a significant economic strain on families in the community.  Because of the Depression, many students did not complete twelve years of school, as they were needed to help provide for their families.  Typically, there were 20 – 30 graduates each year. 

Classes were limited to English, Math, Algebra, History, Government, Science, and Latin.  Everyone took the same classes as separate College Preparatory or Vocational programs did not exist.  Student activities continued to be centered around the band, glee club, school plays, and athletics.  The first yearbook was published in 1940, but was suspended during 1944 and 1945 due to wartime rationing programs. 

1941 Colerain Band     Playbill – Class Play 1937

Prior to 1935, boys competed in interscholastic Soccer with Football beginning in 1935.  Carl Crawford coached the first Football team.  Colerain fielded an eleven-man football team in 1935 and 1936.  Football was not offered in 1937 and 1938 and boys played fast pitch softball in the Fall during those two years.  The Football program was restarted in 1939 and Colerain fielded six-man teams until 1948 when the program was restored to the version that everyone knows today.

Colerain’s First Football Team – 1935   1935 Football Reunion – 2001

Girls continued to play Basketball through the 1930s.  The 1939 – 40 squad won the Hamilton County League Championship.  Interscholastic competition for girls ceased the following year as the governing body made a determination that girls shouldn’t be allowed to compete due to risk of injury.  Athletics for girls were suspended until the 1950s when the GAA was established primarily to provide intramural competition.  GAA was active until the middle 1970s when interscholastic athletics were reinstated for girls with the passage of Title IX.

1939 – 1940 Girls Basketball 1951 GAA

Baseball was also a popular activity during the 1930s and 40s.  Colerain fielded successful teams during this time period.  The 1939 and 1940 teams were particularly successful with the 1940 team placing as Runner-Up in the State Finals. 

1940 Baseball – State Runner-Up

 

The outbreak of war in Europe and the Pacific Ocean had a great impact on the community.  Many Colerain graduates enlisted in the Armed Services and some even left school to enlist.  Four Colerain graduates are known to have given their lives for their country in World War II.  Gene Smith was shot down over the English Channel.  William Stoll was killed in combat in Europe.  “Doc” Binne was killed in a plane crash.  Clayton Schnecker was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.  To recognize and honor those community members serving in the Armed Forces, a plaque was prominently displayed in the school listing the names of all those who were serving our country.

War Memorial Plaque

The Post War Era – 1946 – 1964

The end of World War II saw the beginning of significant growth in Colerain Township as servicemen returned home to marry and start families.  This resulted in a need to increase the number of classrooms at the elementary school and high school.  An auditorium was added to the elementary school and the gym at the high school was expanded to its current configuration.

Auditorium Expanded Gymnasium

With the end of the war and a prospering economy, focus was shifted on increasing the number of activities to accommodate a growing student body.  “C” Club, Student Council, Hi-Y, Pep Club, FTA – Future Teachers of America, FFA – Future Farmers of America were among the clubs added during this timeframe.  Cheerleaders were established in 1945.  The Senior Class at the end of each school year established a class night and Plays continued to be a prominent activity. The first Senior Prom was held in the 1940s as well. 

Pep Club – 1946 “C” Club – 1947
Cheerleaders – 1948

In 1948, the Football program was converted to the 11-man game.  Using portable lights, the games were contested on Friday nights at the field that was located adjacent to the Colerain Township maintenance facility.

The first Class Valedictorian and Salutatorian was recognized in 1950.  Additionally, the first Homecoming was held in the Winter of 1950 with the crowning of a Basketball Queen.  The annual Football Homecoming began in the Fall of 1951.

Betty Floyd Wikoff Esther Ruehl Umberger
Class of 1950 Class of 1950
1st Valedictorian 1st Salutatorian

 

To support the explosive growth in the number of student activities, a group of concerned staff, faculty, parents, and community members formed the Colerain Boosters in 1948.  This organization identified a number of fund raising activities that were used to provide for the needs of all students.  Since its formation, the Colerain Boosters have been significant contributors in the building and lighting of two Football Stadiums, a Soccer Stadium and the creation of practice and playing venues for Softball, Baseball, Tennis, Track, Wrestling, and Basketball.  The Boosters have constructed Press Boxes, Concession Stands, and storage facilities to supplement the support from the School Board.  The Boosters have also provided uniforms for the Band and choral groups.  Additionally, the Boosters have supported Student Council, the Drama Club, Yearbook, School Newspaper, and two Middle Schools. 

Colerain Boosters – 1955

 

In 1949, the growing Pleasant Run area became a part of the Colerain School district.  Monfort Heights had its own school system until 1960 when the Northwest School District was formed combining the two districts.  The first Kindergarten class was formed in 1951 to better equip students for the demands of the 2nd half of the 20th Century.  At left is an aerial view of Colerain Elementary and High School taken in 1953.

In 1953, the Boosters in cooperation with the school administration financed and built a permanent football stadium with track.  Permanent lights were installed at a cost of $6,000.  This field is now used by Colerain Middle School and is part of the Colerain Township Park.  Below are pictures from the dedication ceremony and first game held on the new field.  Colerain High School has always prided itself on having a community that supports all events at the school ranging from plays, musical programs, or athletic events.

Student activities added in the 1950s and early 1960s included Track and Field, Cross Country, Golf, and Rhythmettes, a drill team that performed with the Marching Band.  Course offerings were expanded to include Industrial Arts, Home Economics, and a variety of electives.  Clubs also were expanded to include a number of new hobbies of interest to the student body.

Cardettes - 1957

Rhythmettes – formed in 1956

Outside of school activities, students would typically go to Frisch’s in Groesbeck for meals after games or dances.  Movie theaters were in Mt. Healthy and College Hill.  Informal dances were often held after games.  Double dating was popular as transportation was often a challenge with most families having only one automobile.  Television viewing became a new and prominent leisure time activity in the 1950s as families invested in Black and White models to watch the three local Cincinnati stations plus national broadcasts.

 

By the late 1950s, it was apparent that additional schools were needed to accommodate the children of the postwar “Baby Boom”.  With the formation of the Northwest Local School District, a number of new elementary schools were built in addition to a separate Junior High in White Oak.  Additionally, discussions began regarding the construction of a new high school to allow the existing building to be converted to a junior high school.  Struble Elementary, named in honor of Clarence Struble, was opened in 1959.  Taylor Elementary, named in honor of Harry Taylor, was opened in 1960.  White Oak Junior High was opened in 1962.  Weigel and Houston Elementary Schools were opened in 1965 and 1966 respectively.

Struble Elementary

White Oak Middle School

Houston Elementary

Weigel Elementary

Graduating classes at the high school had grown from the inaugural class of nine Seniors in 1925 to 275 Seniors in 1964.  Commencement ceremonies were held in the auditorium connected to the Colerain Elementary School beginning in 1948 and the entire class could be seated on the stage.

1957 Commencement

Mr. Eberly Hammack was the first Superintendent of the newly formed Northwest Local School District.  Mr. Hammack had been the Superintendent of the Colerain Township Schools since the early 1950's after serving as Principal of Colerain High School. His leadership in collaboration with the School Board resulted in the acquisition of property at 8801 Cheviot Rd. that would become the home to Colerain High School beginning in the Fall of 1964.  In one year, the graduating class almost doubled from 275 to 500.  As noted previously, two elementary schools were being constructed to accommodate the growing number of students in grades K – 6.  It is interesting to note that Kindergarten classes were held in the new high school in its first year until the new schools were opened.

Colerain High School – 1965 – Present

With the opening of the new high school, the administration established two Junior High Schools serving grades 7 – 9 with the Senior High being comprised of 10 – 12 grade students.  This structure was in place until 1989 when Colerain High School once again returned to a 4-year configuration with Freshman moving from the Junior Highs and sixth grade classes being moved into newly formed Middle Schools serving grades 6 – 8.  Growth continued in the north end of the district and Pleasant Run Junior High was opened in 1969.  Additionally, Bevis Elementary was opened in 1970.  Class sizes were exceeding 800 and a decision was made to build a second high school in the northern end of the district.  Northwest High School opened in the Fall of 1972 with Sophomore and Junior classes.  The class of 1973 was the last combined class at Colerain High School.

Northwest High School

Course offerings continued to expand in the 1960s and programs were established to recognize the outstanding academic achievements of students.  The National Merit Scholarship Program was instituted at Colerain in 1968 and four Seniors were recognized for academic excellence. 

Russell Tarver John Pollock Fritz Oehlschlaeger Roger Bielefeld

 

The 1960s were also noted as a time of social change with the Vietnam War and the arrival of the first Baby Boomers as young adults.  As in World War II and the Korean War, Colerain graduates gallantly served their country.  Six graduates gave their lives in Vietnam.  Charles Cook, Duke Schmees, and Ken Swofford were soldiers.  Ken Hume, James Flagella, and Gary Doolittle were pilots.  Doolittle, from the class of 1958, was a helicopter pilot who flew needed supplies into combat zones and evacuated injured soldiers from the battle lines.  Doolittle valiantly volunteered to fly his last mission even though he wasn’t required, as he had already flown a number of missions that day.  Unfortunately, his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire and he lost his life.
Gary Doolittle – Class of 1958

Colerain athletic teams achieved success on the field and in the gym during the 1960s.  Competing in the Hamilton County Suburban League, the Basketball team was undefeated in regular season play in 1963.  This is the only Colerain Basketball team to accomplish such a feat.  The 1967 Basketball team was one of the final eight teams in the state reaching the Regional Finals.  The Football team won its first league title in the Fall of 1967 playing at the new stadium at the high school.  Wrestling was also added as a Varsity Sport in 1965.  

The Colerain Career Center, then known as the Vocational School, opened in 1970.  Mr. Jim Boyd left his position as Head Basketball Coach to move into administration and develop what has become an outstanding program for students interested in entering the workforce immediately after high school.  With a self-contained Career Center program, Colerain students were able to remain on campus and participate in extracurricular activities.

Enrollment in Northwest Schools peaked around 1974 with almost 15,000 students in grades K – 12.  District wide faculty totaled over 600 during this time.  At the time, the Northwest Local School District was the largest suburban school district in the state of Ohio.  Additionally, Colerain Township grew to become the largest township in the state.  To accommodate the growth and meet the needs of the community, Northgate Mall opened in 1972 and Colerain Avenue became a destination of choice for shoppers, car buyers, moviegoers, and diners.  LaRosa’s became the hangout for students after games and dances. 

After Northwest High School opened, Colerain’s graduating classes were reduced to less than 700 and with the end of the Baby Boom; class sizes became less than 500.    As noted earlier, commencement exercises at the old high school were held in the auditorium.  Graduation was held in the gymnasium at the new high school until the early 1970s.  To accommodate the large number of graduates and their families, the graduation ceremony was moved outside to the football stadium.  This was a perfect venue given that weather conditions in early June were generally favorable.  However, an unexpected storm gathered on commencement night in 1973.  What started as a perfectly sunny evening quickly changed to dark clouds that moved in quickly.  The ensuing downpour made for a wet, but memorable end to the high school careers of the Class of 73.  Commencement ceremonies in subsequent years were held both at the football stadium and downtown at the Convention Center.  In the early 1980s, a decision was made to move the commencement exercises to Millett Hall at Miami University.

Athletically, Colerain’s teams more than held its own during the 1970s and 1980s.  The 1975 Baseball team made it to the Regional Finals before falling to Dayton Chaminade Julienne.  This feat was accomplished once again when the 1984 Baseball team made it to the Regional Finals.  Elder won the Regional title and went on to win the State Championship.  The 1978 Cross Country team won the first State Championship in school history with one of the best performances ever recorded in Ohio at the time.  Coached by Ken Meibers, the state title was the culmination of efforts that began in 1974 when the Cross Country team qualified to the State Tournament for the first time.

 

1978 Boys Cross Country

The middle 1970s also marked the return of interscholastic athletics for girls.  Colerain fielded teams in Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, and Gymnastics.  Soccer did not become a varsity sport for girls until the 1983.  Boys Soccer was initiated in 1976 under the direction of Frank Margello. 

The Football program made tremendous strides beginning in 1974 under the direction of Ben Hubbard.  The 1975 team won the league title for the first time since 1967 with a 9 – 1 record.  At the time, there was only one team that qualified for the state playoffs and Moeller was a dynasty under the direction of Gerry Faust.  From the middle 1970s to the middle 1980s, Colerain Football was one of the strongest programs in Greater Cincinnati.  Colerain made the playoffs for the first time in 1994 under the direction of Kerry Coombs and have been one of the strongest programs year in and year out the state ever since.

Colerain has had four individuals claim State Championships since 1974.  Mike Whitehead won the State High Jump title in 1974.  Lori Strong won a State Championship in Swimming in 1980 even though Colerain did not field a team at the time.  Alison Zeinner won a State Championship in the 3200 Meter Run in 1998.  Mason Ward won two State Championships in the 1600 Meter Run in 1999 and 2000.  Additionally, the Girls 4 X 800 Meter Relay team won the State Championship in 2000.  Members of that team were Kelly Crum, Jennifer Limle, Terie Littlepage and Melissa Miller.

Under the direction of Ron Russo, the Colerain Girls Cross Country program has established itself as not only a state, but also a national power.  The team won four consecutive State Championships beginning in 1997 and most recently finished second in 2003.  The team has qualified to the State Championship meet every year since 1996.

As Colerain High School approached the 21st Century, a number of changes took place.  A number of clubs and activities were replaced by new activities consistent with the times.  The Rhythmettes gave way to a combination Flag Corp/Auxiliary as the Marching Band became active in competitions.  Show Cards were created to give students an opportunity to develop dancing and singing performance skills.  This group has been well received throughout the area and state and has traveled to competitions throughout the country. 

Colerain once again became a four-year high school in 1989 to meet the needs of a changing population and to better utilize available facilities.  Buses for high school students were eliminated in 1993 as a means to reduce costs.  Proficiency tests became a standard measure by which students and school districts were evaluated in the 1990s.  Additionally, the curriculum was adjusted to accommodate a “Block Scheduling” approach.  This approach enabled teachers to have more class time for laboratory experiments and classroom discussions.   With the 1990s, came the advent of computer aided instruction and distance learning.  Colerain now has classrooms that can be linked to other locations in the state for interactive learning with students and teachers from other schools.

While time has marched on, students still enjoy sports, dances, clubs, and being with friends.  The number of leisure time activities has certainly increased since the early 1900s.  However, one thing is constant and that is Colerain High School for the residents of the community.  One common theme that can be heard on any Friday during the school year is “WE ARE COLERAIN!”

Colerain High School Fun Facts

  • Over 22,000 students have graduated from Colerain High School

  • 10% of Alumni will marry someone from Colerain High School

  • 35% of Alumni will settle in the immediate area that feeds Colerain High School, i.e. 45251, 45239, 45247, 45211, 45231, and 45252.

  • 50% of Alumni will remain in the greater Cincinnati area.

  • 58% of graduates attend a four-year college or university

  • 24% of graduates attend a two-year college.

  • 14% of graduates seek employment immediately following graduation

  • 2% of graduates enter the military

  • 2% of graduates are undecided

Colerain Graduates Careers

Air Force One Attendant US Olympics Gymnastics Coach
Television Star County Commissioner
City Councilman J ud ge
Township Trustee Major League Baseball
NBA NFL
TV News Anchor Radio Disc Jockey
National Defense Ministry
School Board Member School Superintendent
Principal Teacher
Doctor Lawyer
Accountant Entrepreneur
Technical Skills Trades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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