History of the Cooper Township High School
Cooper Township in 1905 was in a prosperous condition. It contained three flourishing mining towns: Peal, Grassflat, and Winburne. There were also Kylertown and Drifting, which were older and quieter communities, and several smaller settlements. Each one of them had its own school, many of them a single room.
Signs of the good times in Winburne were the recent establishment of the bank and the water company, along with the beginning of trolley service to Philipsburg. Winburne already had a large grade school housed in an eleven-room red-brick building. Now the decision was made to increase the education available by adding a three-year high school course. Thus began Winburne High School.
At first, Mr. John E. Clark, the supervising principal, was the only teacher, and this high school occupied one room. In 1908 the first commencement was held in honor of one graduate, Vogan Buzzard. The Class of 1909 likewise had only one member, Orvis Howe. Three were graduated in 1910, eight in 1911. Soon a second faculty member was added, with the enrollment steadily increasing.
Pupils from all over the township, some of whom walked six or seven miles, continued to come to Winburne to high school until 1918. In that year a new high school was built at the crossroads. That year also marked the extension of the course to four years and the addition of a third teacher. Disaster struck the growing young C. T. H. S. in February 1923, when fire destroyed the high school building and its contents, including all records of graduates up to that time. The high school moved to Kylertown, where the grade school pupils moved out into churches to make room. Being displaced persons did not end student activities, however, for it was during that exile that the first "Cotohisc" was published in September 1923. What must have been Cooper's second football team played a full schedule that fall, too.
On January 2, 1924, the prsent high school building was dedicated. An elaborate program featured talks by several local residents and County Superintendent W. P. Troatle, as well as songs in Swedish, German, Slovak, and English, sung by students of these backgrounds.
Six classrooms, office, and auditorium were included in the new building. Facilities have been increased since by the addition of the wing in 1941, and more recently, by converting basement space, so that now ten classrooms, office, auditorium, and cafeteria are in use.
Cooper Township High School continued to grow in enrollment, size of facility, and curriculum. The commercial course was added in 1928-29, home economics in 1942-43. Just this year the school became one of the first in the area to offer courses in speech. Cooper was a pioneer in this part of Pennsylvania ini opening a cafeteria in 1945, and set a model which many other school districts have followed in sending out hot lunches from the high school cafeteria to the grade school.
High school enrollment hit peak in 1941, with 311 students. That year also saw the largest graduating class, with 65 members. After a drop during and after World War II, enrollments have begun rising slightly and this year's student body numbers 265. Karthaus Township has sent its high school pupils to Cooper since 1934-35 and more than seventy are enrolled this year.
From the beginning Cooper students have shown school spirit in extra-curricular activities. Early pupils were fond of music and literary programs. Dramatic talent has been shown in countless plays. The "Coopernian" and the "Cotohisc" have recorded school events. Musical activities, ever present in some form, have seen two peaks: the present, with the flourishing band and chorus and the early 1930's, when the Snowbirds were bringing fame to Cooper. A state chorus championship in 1933 was the crowning achievement of the Snowbirds and their sister Doves.
Football, since its beginning in the early 1920's has become Cooper's most popular sport. Baseball has a less well-defined history, but perhaps an even longer one. Track meets were held in the 1920's and ping-pong is a favorite indoor sport.
Cooper alumni have gone on to success in all walks of life: Clergymen, lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers, and college professors, are numbered among the graduates of its first classes. Even more important are those alumni who are the backbone of the citizenry of Cooper Township, who are the parents and grandparents of today's and tomorrow's children, bringing them to follow high ideals which we believe Cooper Township High School helped to inspire.
The fall of 1959 saw a new era. Cooper, Morris, Graham, Karthaus, and West Keating Townships combined to form a new school system, which is known as the West Branch Area School. The same high standards and goals, as were traditional at Cooper High, still prevail.
Board of Education
Photos of Schools
Contributed by James Flodine for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/~clearfield/)
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