- The Decades
III - School
to Shawnee Mission North - Reunions and Beyond - http://www.SMN-RAB.org
for current reunion schedules and more...
The historian is a prisoner of the past's perception of itself. A legacy
is made up of that which someone thought of enough importance to record
or keep. The historian also probes the self-consciousness of a people.
If they see themselves about important business or if any among them is
aware of this generation's debt to that, then they will preserve a
story. But, as one looks backward, one is indeed aware of the diffuse
colorings that must be interpreted in present tense if the story is to
be told fairly. It is an awesome task. It has shadings of the
The school historian must constantly deal with the question of
importance. Who was important? What is worth remembering? Usually, the
minutia of daily lives is forgotten and put aside or are so intertwined
by time and memory to be at least conflicting if not useless. The past,
for many, is what we want it to be. Memory, for others, is relegated
into the bin of unimportance. The present counts. Tomorrow is to be
looked forward to. Yesterday is burnt ashes.
Thirdly, if a people do sense their importance enough to keep a record
or they do indeed have a self-perception which they wish to pass along,
too often the chroniclers catch the structure of the times and leave the
spirit. For us to know that on a certain date such-and-such occurred is
important, yet to know only the event is like having the skeleton of the
body while missing the flesh. Three basic sources have been used in this
work: the extant issues of the school newspaper (The Mission) and
yearbook (The Indian) and the memories of those who do now live and did
participate. All of the sources provided needed information and
sometimes contained conflicting stories. Each tried to tell a part of
the story. It is with hindsight that we search for the whole story.
Truth to tell, this school, which was once called Shawnee Mission Rural
High School and is now called Shawnee Mission North High School has
stood in its place, in various forms and configurations, for 60 years.
That is fact. Praise God, it will stand far longer. That is the spirit
of personal value. As I read what the students thought important in the
newspapers and yearbooks, I tried to find an in-spirited structure. I
sought the who and what and that illusive something in-between. As I
listened to the stories of those who lived what we now call history, I
listened for a fleshing of the times. Tell us, my silent plea said, not
just what happened but what it was like to live there.
Shawnee Mission North does now exist. The purpose of this work is to
celebrate that part and to celebrate the human value that has gone into
making this existence a fact. Our intent is to celebrate a tradition
which is, in a sense, a record of the human spirit; we wish to celebrate
the foresight of a community which created this school, gave it life and
continues to feed it. A school is a factual representation of a
community's vision and strength. So as we celebrate the history of this
school, we must celebrate the legacy of our own. They who created this
school were like us. Somehow they were able to forge a collective will,
engage a common spirit and overcome their fears. Because they could do
this, so can we. Celebration is inherent in a look at and sense of
history. We celebrate the existence of Shawnee Mission and its school so
we can celebrate our own lives.
This is a selective history. Its intent is to outline 60 years of
existence; it does not try to capture each and every movement or person.
Therefore, apologies are offered in the beginning for any offense. No
ill treatment was intended. Again the issue of importance and its
interpretation is crucial.
The errors of omission and commission are mine. Please believe there is
love even in confusion. Perhaps the story was not told truly; perhaps
there was not one single story, but conflicting and contradictory
plurals; perhaps I did not see truly or hear accurately. Whatever the
cause, it is the obligation of the present to search factually among
Many are the thanks owed to present and former teachers and
administrators of Shawnee Mission North. Without their stories I would
have been less confused, but more ignorant and less enriched.
Many are the thanks owed to my research assistants: Ms. Donna Turner and
Ms. Sarah Yeokum. Their efforts shortened the journey.
A special thanks to Mrs. Bettye Hall who always "looked at the
minutes" of the meetings when we yelled for help.
Finally, I celebrate the existence of Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and its
original high school, now called Shawnee Mission North. I celebrate a
people, their school and the resulting spirit that has become a
tradition of importance. I celebrate a past that leaves a legacy that
can feed our future.
This history of our high school is a perpetual work-in-progress.
Representatives of any and all graduating classes from Shawnee Mission
North are encouraged to send updates to:
Dave Lawrence - Webmaster@SMN-RAB.ORG
Shawnee Mission North High School
Original subtitle: CELEBRATE
(SM North 1922 - 1982) by Dave Farson
into web format by
Dave Lawrence - SMN Class of 1979)