Many of the changes that have occurred at Coeur d'Alene High School have been a result of the population growth that has been characteristic of this area. This growth has occurred sometimes steadily, sometimes in spurts, but has been an important factor in the decision of where to house our CHS students.
It is believed to be in 1903 that the first two seniors "graduated" from the Coeur d'Alene City Schools. These two were transferred from other communities. Standard course requirements were developed in 1905. The number of graduates grew slightly for the next few years, and in 1909 there were nine seniors, with eight graduating. In 1918 there were 39 in the graduating class. During the '20's the number was a bit erratic, beginning with a low of 42, to a very startling high of 76, with 79 students graduating in the Class of 1925, the all-time high to that date. The next years saw classes of 53 and 74, with slight increases after that.
The increase continued into the 1930s. The Class of 1933 graduated 133 students, and the Class of 1936 gave diplomas to 150. School enrollment in the 1940s was a bit erratic because of World War II, but increased overall. In 1941 CHS graduates numbered a staggering 167, most likely due to the fact that many young people chose to enter the service in lieu of graduating from high school. In 1942 the number of graduates was down to 143, in 1943 there were 134. In 1944 it hit a very low 101 where it stayed steady during the war. Returning servicemen in 1947 increased the number to 129, and the number then leveled out at approximately19 120 for the rest of the decade.
The 1950s saw the ever-present increase. The graduating class of that decade began at 125 and with the exception of 1956 which had a very strange low of 114, increasing to 174 in 1959.
The graduating class of 1961 broke the 200 mark for the first time, with 239. The decade continued with steady growth and closed with 341 graduates in 1969. The 1970s began with 330 graduates and also grew steadily until 1979 when diplomas were handed out to 450 students. This trend continued into the 1980s when the 500 mark was broken four times, 1981 with 510, 1982 with 524. The late 1980s averaged just short of the 500 mark. Since then enrollment seems to have leveled off with approximately 400 graduating seniors each year.
Location of Graduation Exercises
It is not known where the very early commencements exercises were held, or even if there were such ceremonies. It is believed that graduations during the early 1900s were held in the study hall which doubled as an auditorium when the need arose. At that time attendance at graduation was limited to members of the family. When the new addition to the high school building was completed in 1925, graduation exercises were held in that auditorium for quite a few years until it too, was outgrown.
In 1941, 1942, and 1943 the commencement was held in the Civic Auditorium. This was a fine facility located in the downtown city park. Unfortunately, during WWII, a "crazy" sailor from Farragut Naval Training Station was responsible for burning it down and it was never rebuilt.
Graduation was then held at the high school auditorium the following year and for some years after that until it became too small to accommodate the graduates and their families. North Idaho Junior College gymnasium/auditorium became the host for CHS graduating seniors for several years, and then the Greyhound Park became the host to the CHS graduation class in 1989 and for the next few years. Since the opening of Lake City High School, graduation has taken place here on our campus in the gymnasium.
*O.R. Shern 1906 -
*A.C. Davis 1909 -
*J.V. Buck 1916 -
*B.M. George 1918 -
*Henry J. Schmidtke 1924 -
G.O. Phippeny 1930 - 1941
Harlow H. Campbell 1941 - 1945
Harold J. Evans 1945 - 1966
Robert H. "Bob" Jones 1966 - 1976
Wally Pfeiffer 1976 - 1978
Doug Cresswell 1978 - 1983
Gerry Walseth 1983 - 1988
Warren Toney 1988 - 1989
John Brumley 1989 - 1993
Steve Casey 1994 - 2006
Randy Russel 2007 - 2011
Warren Olsen 2011 - 2015
Troy Schueller 2016 - 2018
Bret Heller 2018 - 2019
Elizabeth "Libbi" Barrett 2019 - Present
*The writers are not sure of the exact years of service of the early principals.
Because of the phenomenal growth Coeur d'Alene experienced from 1903 - 1910, the first high school at Seventh and Wallace was useful only for a few years. It reverted to being used solely for lower grades and then burned down in 1927. The stately and beautiful separate high school, built on Seventh and Montana, was used from 1910 until the fall of 1954 as a high school, then as a junior high until 1975, totaling 65 years of proud service. It stood sadly vacant, its windows boarded up, for a few years. Some of its contents were sold at a public auction. The building was then sold to the city of Coeur d'Alene for use as a community center, and was later demolished. The old schoolyard is now a city park. The sound of children playing blends with the echoes of students of the past whispering in class, laughing too loud in the hallways, and cheering at ball games.