I transferred to Caddo High School in the spring of 1965. It was a culture shock of sorts. I had been to Caddo before and even visited the schools. But I had just traded my class of nine hundred for a class of twenty-eight. I wasn’t sure I’d survive in a school where I was “the odd one” and everyone else had been together since kindergarten. But I did survive, and I grew to love the close friendships of my classmates, the individual attention from my teachers, and the easy-going environment of a small town.
Caddo has always had a strong educational foundation. Children of early settlers went to school in “subscription” schools. Parents paid the teacher for their child’s education and the classrooms were usually in homes or churches. In 1904 the Manning School opened in Caddo for grades 1-11. It was built on land donated by Mrs. Matilda Manning, a member of a prominent Choctaw family, in memory of her husband Dr. Manning. It was one of the first public schools in the area.. I vaguely remember the Manning building. It was an imposing three-story brick building with a belfry cupolo and white Grecian columns. I visited once with my cousins before it was torn down in 1958. The inside was beautiful and had lots of polished woodwork.
A high school was built in the fifth block of S. McPheron in 1912. The upper grades were moved into it and Mrs. Jon Jon Powell’s class was the first to graduate from it. Classmates were Welthy Wright, Laudie Hipp, Dolphe Woods, Preston Malone, Stanley Williams and Ernest Powell. The high school burned in the spring of 1921 and was rebuilt, at a cost of $52,000, in time for the fall term. The two-story building was built by J.J. Rooney of Muskogee. The same year the high school became fully accredited with the North Central Association. The school had 27 units or 54 credits in school work, equal to any school in the association. E. O. Shaw was the superintendent.
When the Manning school was torn down in 1958, a new grade school building was constructed east of the high school in the 500 block of S. McPheron at a cost of $55,000. Euel Hicks was the superintendent. Enrollment grew so with the consolidation of area schools that in 1972 six more rooms were built and attached to the older grade school with a hall between the two sections. It cost $75,000. Schools that became part of Caddo ISD were Robinson, Franklyn, Carrols Chapel, Pleasant Hill, Liberty, Matoy, Midway, Armstrong, Lone Oak, Maytubby, and Kenefic. Air-conditioning was added to both the grade and high schools and the cafeteria during the administration of Olan Isbell. In 1966 a modern kindergarten building was erected at a cost of $10,000.
During the administration of Joe McKinnis in 1939, a gym was built at a cost of $20,000. The high school building built in 1921 was condemned and replaced in 1962 with a building just south of the gym. Euel Hicks was the superintendent. The Industrial Arts building was constructed in 1965 at a cost of $25,000 while Jack Barnett was superintendent. The last building to be constructed was the Ruel Choate Gym on the west side of the high school at a cost of $225,000. The superintendent during that time was Andrew Huggins. The building was completed in the fall of 1977. Mr. Choate was a high school custodian from 1939 to 1979. He was loved and respected by the students and teachers alike.
More recent additions have included a football field, baseball field, softball field, maintenance buildings, bus barns, agriculture building, and greenhouse. Remodeling has continued inside as well. The high school library has had a complete makeover. And of course there have been numerous changes in curriculum and teachers over the years.
However, one thing has remained the same. The parents of Caddo have insisted on excellence for their children. Just because we live in a small town in rural Oklahoma doesn’t mean our children shouldn’t do anything and be anything they want. There is a lot of parent involvement in a small town. Music programs and sports events are always well-attended. Kindergarten graduation is a celebration for the whole town. The High School graduation brings out multiple generations of families. There is great pride here, and hope for the future. The Caddo Education Foundation helps students with scholarships. Other organizations help with scholarships, grants, and encouragement. Graduates go on to colleges and universities throughout the country. They get jobs in the cities and then, like me, many of them return.
Caddo High School represents the heart of this town. It’s what ties so many people together- those memories made, friendships formed. Every four years the Caddo Alumni Association holds a banquet for all former graduates. The next one will be in November of 2008. I hope that if you are reading this and you graduated from Caddo, you will remember the banquet and remind your friends to meet you there.
(Names, facts and figures from the work of Erma Lee Taylor.)