Better Than Necessary:
A Celebrational History of
Shawnee Mission North High School



I - The Decades
The 20's
The 30's
The 40's
The 50's
The 60's
The 70's
1980 and Beyond

II - Pictures
and Facts

III - School Spirit

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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 impossible.

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 past ashes.

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.

Dave Farson
May, 1981

Table of Contents


Editor's Note:

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

Better Than Necessary:
A Celebrational History of
Shawnee Mission North High School

Original subtitle: CELEBRATE 60
(SM North 1922 - 1982)  by Dave Farson
(Transmogrified into web format by
Dave Lawrence - SMN Class of 1979)