A Look Back at 
Mankato Public Schools

created by Larry L Lloyd
MHS Class of 1969


Not too long ago, I came across a small booklet published by Mankato Public Schools. It was published during the 1935-36 school year. It was a handbook for students called "The M Book", and it talked about things like "Activity Tickets", "Class Periods", "Graduation Requirements", "Report Cards", "Attendance", etc. All the things that a new student would need to know.

One of the chapters was titled "History of Public Schools". I found it interesting, and since there is no copyright notice anywhere in the booklet, I thought I'd put it on the web for others to enjoy.


A History of the Mankato Schools

The Mankato public school system took root in 1855, when the first public school in this section, a one-room log cabin, was erected on the present site of the Union school building. There were 37 students enrolled, with Mr. L. G. M. Fletcher as the first teacher.

In 1867, because of increased enrollment, this building was razed, and a three-story brick structure erected. This was called the Union school. It was in this building that Mankato high school had its real beginning. In 1871 the Pleasant Grove building was erected, and in 1875, the Franklin school. (My research indicates that the Pleasant Grove school was on the site where Lincoln school now stands.) The high school remained at the Union, with the exception of the period 1872-74, until the old portion of the present senior high building was erected in 1891. The cost was about $35,000. (Note that when this article was written, in 1935, the "present senior high building" is not the one know today as West high school.)

Opening exercises, at which prominent citizens were honorary guests, were held the evening of September 18, 1891. At this time the school included the seventh and eighth grades and the four high school grades.

In 1909, enrollment had increased greatly, according to the superintendent's report. Although the seventh grade had been removed to other schools, more space was needed to take care of the students. Therefore, in 1910, property adjoining the building was purchased by the school board, and by the summer of 1911 the annex was completed. That fall there were 203 students in the high school.

Until 1889 there were no supervised sports. At this time the first football team was organized. Their football suits were much like today's baseball outfits and the ball was like a basketball. (Remember, this was written in 1935. ) The games were played on the prairie back of the Franklin school.

Gradually, in the years that followed, the present sports were introduced. Girls' sports came later.

The Philomathean, organized about 1885, was the first club organized in the high school. This was a compulsory literary and oratorical club. In 1901 the Debate club was organized. A few years later a Zetamathean society was organized and became the chief rival of the Philomatheans. These two held tug-of-wars, debates, sports contests, and various other rival events.

For commencement each graduate had to write and orate an original composition. The graduation exercises were first held in Union Hall, but later the Opera House was used. The first graduating class had 11 members while the class of 1935 had 175. There have been two classes with only one graduate. In 1878, Walter Foddis; and in 1884, W. D. Willard. The first commencement was in 1876.

The first musical play presented was "Little Boy Blue," given in 1902. Florence MacBeth and Dick Wood took the leading roles. This was given at the old Opera House.

The first junior-senior party was given in 1895, when the students danced the Virginia Reel. The proms have changed to the dinner-dance type now.

The first annual (yearbook ) was published in 1912; this has become a regular senior project.

When the high school started, only the mere fundamentals were taught, but a notable addition is the three C's. These three, character, culture, and citizenship, have become three of the greatest watchwords of American education. In the 80 years of Mankato school history, education has become more complex and more cultural with the general background of these three C's.


Here are a few more tidbits I found in the "M" book.

Mankato High School March
Fight Song:
by Charles Reasoner.

Come on, Man-ka-to,
Come on, Man-ka-to.
Come on and keep those colors high.

Keep them a-show-ing,
Keep them a-glow-ing,
Like the rain-bow in the sky.

There's some-thing do-ing,
For me and you when we get together,
Whe-ther sun, rain, or snow.

Hi there, ho there,
Get a-long, go there,
Go, Man-ka-to, go!

On Mankato

On Mankato, on Mankato, march right thru that line,
Run the ball thru (name of town)
Touchdown sure this time. U-RAH-RAH!

On Mankato, on Mankato, fight on for her fame,
Fight, fellows, FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
We'll win this game.

Mankato High School Rouser
by Betsy Frentz, '35

When the Scarlet team comes on the field,
We will all stand up and cheer;
To the other team we'll never yield,
And they won't forget we're here.

We will fight for victory and win,
We will conquer every foe.
When the Scarlet team comes on the field,
We will fight for Mankato.

Mankato High School Hymn
Words by Amy Schoelkopf, '35

Mankato High, of thee we sing the praises;
May all thy fame and glory ne're decline;
Light thou our paths and lead us onward thru life,
Oh, link our names and our hearts with thine.
Faithful and true thy every fortune will greet,
Loyal in vict'ry or in defeat.

Mankato High, to thee we raise our voices;
Veiled in a mist of memories thou art;
Thy spirit, fame, and honor shall live always,
Inscribed in gladness upon each heart.
Now and forever we shall cherish thy name,
And thoughts of thee will be our guiding flame.

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