Despite it being 50 years old, the Duncan High School Class of 1961 may always refer to the current high school as the “new high school.”
The classmates began their secondary careers at a high school on Ninth Street, but they moved to the current location before the campus was even completed. The building on Ninth went on to become Duncan Junior High, Duncan Middle School and, finally, the EDGE Academy.
“We call it the ‘new high school,’” Ray Merchant said, when the Class of ’61 held it’s 50th reunion Friday and Saturday. “Now, it’s an urban renewal project.”
Merchant said at that time it was exciting to move into a state-of-the-art campus, which included an array of amenities lacking in the old high school. The building included a typing room, with manual and electrical typewriters. The cords of the electrical typewriters ran along the floor and were covered with tape.
“I remember we went to every room and there was one electrical outlet in each room,” Merchant said. “We didn’t have any of the technology we have now.”
Merchant, who went on to become a long-term educator, said keeping up with technology has always been an important part of any school district. In the upcoming bond issue, technology makes up about $2 million.
The class had 351 students in 1961, and many of those graduates returned for the class reunion. About 50 of the students have died in the years following graduation.
Michael Carnes attended the reunion and reflected on the move into the current high school, which he said had some unexpected benefits.
“We went from an un-air-conditioned facility to an air-conditioned facility,” Carnes said. “No one had air conditioning; so, we didn’t know any better. If we wanted to be cool, we had to open windows.”
Merchant said another benefit was the addition of a cafeteria, where meals were served. The former high school had a place for students to eat, but they had to take their own food.
The addition of a cafeteria was a big step for the students. But there were still things not quite in place at the high school. At that point, the school district didn’t have buses to take students to school. Instead, students had to walk or have a parent take them to the high school.
Although the building met their needs in 1961, Carnes said things have changed. What made the building state-of-the-art in the early 1960s are some of the things that date the building 50 years later.
“At that time, it was state of the art,” Carnes said.