Always under construction
Teachers School years
The history of the Reliance school begins in 1906, a year after the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad reached Reliance from the east. School was held in and a one-room schoolhouse was built.
School was continued in this building until it was no
longer big enough to give the students good training and a new school became a must. A
Miss O'Riley is recorded as the first teacher in the Reliance School (1906-07). No record
has been found to indicate how many students attended that year.
By the fall of 1918 Reliance had four teachers and more pupils than the building could handle, so the grades 5-7 were taught in the rooms above the Farmers State Bank rented by the school system. By January, 1919, a fourth teacher had been hired and the school building (by then) was now divided into three rooms for classes.
In June, temporary officers were elected and two bond issues
were voted on and carried. One was for $15,000; the other for $25,000. Because of the
governor's discouraging the construction of any new building, the valuation of the
property being too low and the present war conditions, the construction was delayed for a
month. The contract was let for construction to begin July 1, 1919 The work started, then
the contractor fell down on the job and quit. The school board did the only thing they
could do...they took over the construction and with volunteers and some hired men, the
school was finished.
Miss L.O McDonald was principal and Miss Pauline Entsminger, assistant. Mr. Stone was the janitor. (How the students enjoyed sitting at the desks that had been polished with his kerosene mop)
A petition was drawn up in April, 1919, for the construction of a new schoolhouse.
In the fall of 1919-20 an influenza epidemic went through the country and some school sessions were held at night to accommodate those who had missed schooling.
The new building was two stories tall with a large basement and outside measurements of 56'x70'. A large furnace supplied steam for the radiators in the upper rooms. It housed a domestic science room, which became the physics laboratory, and it had a dressing room and toilets equipped with waterworks. Many thought the most attractive part of the school was the gymnasium in the basement, which was large enough for a "good basketball floor and room for a large crowd of onlookers.
For the benefit of those who will, in years to come, read this history of the Reliance school system, it should be stated that the "new" two-story brick building in Reliance in 1920 came about because of the creation of an organization that worked diligently to see that Reliance had the "best high school in Lyman County". School board members were: A.B. Chattuck, president; W.V. Cullen, vice-president; H.O. Schoessler, clerk; Laurel Pease, treasurer; Fred Thietje, John DeGroot, and Frank Schindler.
Miss Louise O. McDonald spent two years working with the state to the get school certified an accredited four-year high school. The certificate was signed in June of 1921.
When the new school opened in 1920, it was with 31 students enrolled; three as seniors: Meta Kohler, Margaret Cullen and Hallis Alcott made up the first graduating class of Reliance High School (1921.)
Talk of consolidating the Reliance school
had begun and plans for the building to house not only the students from the community,
but from the surrounding area as well.
Talk of consolidating the Reliance school had begun and plans for the building to house not only the students from the community, but from the surrounding area as well.
Joann Byre, Dera and Delora Fields, Carol Lester, Helen Hamiel, Dorothy Reuer, Rita Hodgin, Rose Elaine Bukacek, Mary Bowar, Mary Lou Kistler and Peggy Murphy made up the girls basketball team in 1948; Dick Black and Florence Yarosh, coaches.
The school's first year
of football was during 1948-'49 with six games scheduled; one was called due to the
weather. Cheerleaders were: Dera Fields, Carol Lester, Helen Hamiel, Mary Bowar and Delora
Fields. Players were: Alan Hodgin, Earl Christensen, Dave Mason, Ronald Neyt, Henry
Schelle, Gene Mohr, Dick Black, Ed Byre, Jim Jensen, Russell Black, Richard Graves, Donald
Kistler and Roger Fletcher. That year was also the year the RHS Student Board of Control
during the 1948-49 school year were Dick Black and Helen Hamiel, King and Queen, and Helen
Hamiel, Mary Bowar, Peggy Murphy and Delora Fields. Francis Reuer and Mona Kay Murphy,
gymnasium was built near the northeast corner of the school in 1949 where school and
community functions were held until the high school was closed. The Neugebauer family
brought roller skating to the area to the delight of everyone who dared to learn to skate.
The American Legion now (1985) maintains the building.
class of 1954 consisted of Jean Byre, best athlete; Judy (Swanson) Black, best posture;
Keith Nissen, most likely to succeed; Gloria Tagtow, cleverest; Vivien Hodgin, most
flirtatious; Larry Schelle, most energetic; Marlis Herron, healthiest, and Donald Wagaman.
Russell Black and Judy Swanson surprised everyone by eloping during the school year and
this was also the year the students learned that their noses were in the middle of the
face because it is the scenter.
Patty Ann Recoy,
Gloria, Corrine Cosgrove, Marlis, Jean, Judy, Vivien, Kathleen Murphy, Frances Stallman,
Joanne Erickson, Janice Monson, Helen Schelle, Donna Hoffer and Marjo Fletcher made up the
girls basketball team.
on the boys basketball team in 1956 were: Francis Bukacek, James Murphy, Don Schindler,
Loren Schelle, Theron Hodgin and Ronald Frame, coached by Darrel Cadwell.
to the Reliance Consolidated School in 1957 were: Randy Fletcher, Russell Reed, Gerald
Berg, Noel Hamiel, Jane Moulton, Dorothy White, Diane Berg, John Murphy, Diane Bukacek,
Kenneth Kercher, Stevie Fletcher, Avery Tagtow, Edward Harvey, John Hansen, Joyce Hanig,
Robert Muldoon, Charles Whitney, Judith Kindopp, Judith Schelske, Susan Cullen and William
Hunt; all first graders.
Louis Cullen was
the superintendent in 1957; Florence Anderson, principal, and Darrell Cadwell,
coach/teacher. Hank Sattler, Joe Muldoon, Roy Fletcher, Jim Bukacek and Evert Fletcher
made up the board of trustees. Marian Tagtow, Rosemary Card, Curtis Berg, Ralph Schelske,
Marilyn Wagaman and Darrell Herron sat on the
student council along with Supt. Cullen and council president, Larry Huntsman.
found Alona Parkening, Barbara Swanson, Karen Erickson, Jean Frame, Carol Whitney, Cassie
Wagner, June Cosgrove, Linda Cullen, Lorna Schelske, and Beth and Sharon DeWitt playing on
the girls basketball team.
leave out Ancil Lester who served as the janitor and kept the old school bell ringing at
the Reliance school for 32 years. Mary Ann Rogers drove the school bus 19 years. Nor
should we omit Reliance's triplets: Sheila, Sharon and Ronnie McManus who graduated with
the class of 1963.
The staff of
RHS in 1969 consisted of Larry L. Winters, Supt., Don Faus, Principal and teachers:
Florence Anderson, Norman Olmstead, Keith McKay, Ralph Nauman, Dale Price, Lois Warner,
Music; Anna Mae Nissen, Grades 6,7,8; Evelyn Bingen, Grades 3,4,5; Bertha McManus,
Reading; Neta Schelske, Grades 1 and 2. Sitting on the school board were Supt. L. Winters,
Dorothy Hall, Don Fletcher, Elmer Schelske, Pete Erickson, Verle Peterson and R.
Reliance High School
classes were discontinued after the 1970-'71 school year. The schools were consolidated
and some of the high school students went to Chamberlain, others to East Lyman and
Kennebec. Grades 1 through 5 remained at Reliance; attending school in the metal
Industrial Arts Shop north of the school.
Buffalo, Molly Butt, Peggy Cross, Nancy Fletcher, Anita Harvey, Tana Lucas, Roger
Michalek, K.C. Peters, Neil Peters, Wesley Schaefer, Nancy Schelske, Rick Simpson, Leland
Stewart and Barbara Wynia were the last graduating class from Reliance (1971).
brick, two-story building was torn down in 1985. The school bell that Ancil Lester rang so
faithfully all his years at the school, was removed and can be seen on top of the Reliance
Fire Department building on Main Street. The long fire escape that everyone who ever
attended the school (and ran down during the fire drills or just played on when they
thought no one was looking) has been moved to Chamberlain to the residence of Garry and
Marlys (Cosgrove) Swanson, graduates of RHS. Its usefulness goes on as it leads to the
lower level of their property.
Some of the teachers at this school were Marla Patten, Bertha McManus, Lu Hammerbeck, Jeff Tveit and Gladys Stewart. Assistants were Sonia Schelske, Connie Bukacek, Mary Ann Rogers and RaeDean Hovey. Ever-present Loraine Suhl handled the janitorial duties at the school until the school was closed for the first time in its history, after the 1994-95 school term.
students, 1-12 now attend schools in Kennebec and Presho. The lot where the school sat for
75 years remains vacant and the metal shop is silent. The building is now being used for
community events by the residents of Reliance.
This school has
been there as long as most of us can remember. Children running outdoors at recess time;
playing on the swings, teeter-totters and bars, have disappeared from the school grounds
and a tennis court can be found on the east half of the lot.
Thus ends the era of "the best high school in Lyman County" circa 1920.
Article reprinted from Chamberlain Register, 1985
Lyman County South Dakota's Genealogy
Lyman County South Dakota's Genealogy