Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

087_Herbert Hoover High History


087_Herbert Hoover High History


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

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Contracts for a total of $3,065,988 were let in March 1966 for the construction of the building. Inflation of the 1960's had eaten into the money that had been allocated from the bond issue, and several modifications of the original plans had to be made. Two additions in later years were primarily the result of those items being eliminated from the original plans. On July 8,1964, John Haydon, a member of the Board of Education moved to name the new high school in honor of a native Iowa, Herbert Hoover. Mr. Hoover was born in Iowa in 1874 and died in 1964. During his illustrous career he served as chairman of the American Relief Committee during World War I, where he achieved international status. He later served as Secretary of Commerce from 1921 until 1928, when he received the Republican nomination for President and later went on to defeat the Democratic candidate, Alfred E. Smith. Following his defeat by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, he served on many government and private committees, including the powerful Hoover Commission of 1953. A bust presented by this library and a personal letter from President Hoover to the President of the Board of Education in 1962 are both on display at Hoover High School. The first principal of Hoover High School, Dr. Donald Wetter, assumed his duties on January 23, 1967, and he capably guided the selection of personnel, ordering of equipment, and the handling of the multitude of details necessary to open a new school. Much discussion was held before deciding the make-up of the first student body. It was finally decided the school would house only the tenth and eleventh grades during its first year of operation. These students, who would have been attending either North or Roosevelt, began classes in September 1967. Much of the construction remained to be finished, but the use of classrooms at the adjacent Meredith Junior High and a great deal of ingenuity resulted in a smooth beginning for the school. Enrollment the first year consisted of 429 sophomores and 402 juniors for a total student body of 811. September enrollments the following years of the school's existence are as follows: 1968 - 69 - 1255 1969 - 70 - 1299 1970 - 71 - 1292 1971 - 72 - 1320 1972 - 73 - 1265 1973 - 74 - 1215 1974- 75 - 1134 Since the school attendance area is bounded on the north and west by other school districts, there is no room for further expansion of housing within the present school boundary area. Thus, unless district-wide boundary shifts are made in the future, it appears likely that total enrollment in the school will decrease, reflecting the nation-wide declining birth rate. As mentioned earlier, a shortage of available funds necessitated a modification of plans on the existing structure. Thus, in April 1971, contracts were let for additional space for science, music, homemaking, and shop facilities. The total expenditure for this addition was $366,700. Construction was completed and the first classes were held in these facilities in September 1972. Since only one gymnasium was built in the original construction, 85 another facility was needed for physical education classes from the outset. On February 18, 1975, contracts totaling $385,743 were let for this addition. Also, additional funds were allocated to install auditorium lighting, which had been omitted from the original plans. Completion of these projects thus provides a building very similar to the one recommended in the original plans but which had to be modified because of a shortage of appropriated funds at the time. The school soon established its own identity, reflecting the enthusiasm and competence of the students, parents, and staff. While the primary emphasis since the school's beginning has been to provide a strong academic background for the students, extra activities have also been an integral part of the school's history. Students in the school soon excelled in all areas, including music, drama, debate and athletics in addition to their class work. The result is that at least one area of the school's program has received statewide recognition through winning a state competition in its area each year since the school was opened. A large percentage of the graduates enroll in some type of post-high school training upon their graduation. Currently approximately 65% of the graduates seek additional training beyond the high school level. Although no comprehensive formal study has been made, it is obvious that a large percentage of these graduates complete their advanced training. From its beginning the school has maintained strong programs in the English, mathematics, foreign languages, science and social science areas, with most students enrolling in a full schedule of subjects from these areas. In recent years the addition of program in distributive education and office education have provided opportunities to combine school training with practical work experience. Students at Hoover have also participated in the Executive Intern program from its beginning in the 1974-75 school year. The art, industrial art and homemaking areas continued to develop their programs and courses to reflect the changing needs of the school community. The music department has enrolled large numbers of students in instrumental and vocal groups, with all groups receiving top ratings in state competition in their areas. The development of a wide variety of elective courses in the physical education area provides many opportunities for all students to develop their skills and increase their knowledge in activities that will help them to develop and maintain their physical health during and beyond their high school years. Nearly all students are enrolled in a daily physical education class throughout their three years at Hoover. Even though the school has had only a small number of minority students enrolled since its opening, a conscious effort has been maintained throughout the years to develop curriculum that will include the contributions of the minorities that make up our country. The development of the Voluntary Transfer Program by the school district is beginning to result in a larger number of minority students from other areas of the district electing to enroll at Hoover.