The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Jeff Bush

Letter To The Editor: Reader looks back at schools, supportive of building new one


Dear Editor,

That was an excellent story written by Will Castner about the history of the Sidney elementary schools (Jan. 20 edition). Having attended the Sidney schools from 1940 to 1953, I would like to add to Will’s story (Will’s grandfather Lloyd Castner was a classmate of mine).  None of the schools I attended are in Sidney anymore, the high school being torn down when the new one was built several years ago. 

We lived on the southwest corner of 12th Avenue and Linden Street when I started school.  Across the street north, where the fire department and city offices and library are now, was the bandshell, which I am sure many older folks remember fondly.  The first school I went to was the original high school, a stone building which sat on the block now occupied by Security National Bank.  The first floor was classrooms for kindergarten, first and second grades, and the second floor was the junior high, seventh and eighth grades.  I then attended the Francis Willard school, or as it was called “East Ward” for third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Students attending North Elementary school – called “North Ward” – transferred to East Ward in the fifth grade as I recall, and I remember the rivalry created when the North Ward kids enrolled at East Ward.

Then back to the junior high school for seventh and eighth grades on the second floor, then to Sidney High School for grades 9-12, graduating with the Class of 1953.  The present junior high building was not built until after I graduated. Instead, we had a huge lawn in front of the high school at the time. And of course the present Central and South Elementary Schools were not built until later.  Both of my children attended school at South and Central since we resided on El Rancho Road at the time, as did my grandchildren for a couple years after attending District 77 until it was closed. 

I have trouble with locating the new school in the east part of town.  It seems far away for kids that still live on the north side or south of the UP tracks or in Country Club Heights.  They won’t be able to walk, or even ride bikes, to the new school.  That is where Sidney’s growth is going, however, with the new hospital and the Cabela’s houses being built out there.

History is repeating itself. I remember my parents saying the citizenry couldn’t understand why the old high school was built way out on the west side of town where nobody lived at the time except a few farmers.  From my grandparents house on Linden between 14th and 15th avenues, you could still see across to the businesses on U.S. 30.  The Central School property was almost entirely a victory garden during WW II.  About the only residence in that part of town was the McFadden property, which is still there.

I hope the bond issue passes this time. A lot of planning has gone into this project by the administration and school board, and there is certainly a need for more classrooms and an updated facility.

Jeff Bush



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