It is normal to see the names of former area high schools in the Tribune obituaries. I especially enjoyed seeing the picture of Greencreek High School’s 1961 graduation class in the May 22, 2021, Tribune Blast from the Past. That 1961 class was Greencreek’s last class of five members, and since then the Greencreek students have attended Prairie High School in Cottonwood. Greencreek’s first graduating class of four was in 1938 and their biggest was 18 in 1943.
Besides Greencreek, there are 19 other high school names that are gone but not forgotten in our north central Idaho area. Those schools with team names and their last year include the Peck Pirates, 1944, and the Gifford Ramblers, 1949. High school students in Peck now attend high school in Orofino, and Gifford students go to Culdesac High School.
The students in high schools which have lost their town names still go to school, but because of smaller families, cutbacks in the logging and lumber industry, and improvements with roads and transportation, many small high schools were consolidated.
Sports are fun, and since 1917 Idaho has had state tournaments in boys basketball and track. Until 1938 there were no size classifications, but now there are six.
Many of us have wonderful memories of our high school days, and that includes those whose high school names are gone. In 1943 Southwick High School Cougars students started attending Kendrick High School, and in 1948 the Juliaetta Pirates also started going to school in Kendrick. In 1948 the Bovill Cardinals became Deary Mustangs, and in 1988 Elk River High School started in Deary, too.
In 1969 Clearwater County high school students who had been Pierce Foresters and Weippe Gorillas combined and became the Timberline Spartans. My good friend and Lewiston High School teammate, the late Mel Ruark, coached the Weippe boys to the 1962 state boys basketball championship.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that Greencreek students became Prairie Pirates in 1961. That same year the Ferdinand Eagles and the Cottonwood Mustangs also became Prairie Pirates, and in 1970 the St. Gertrude’s Pirates joined them.
In 1962 three Lewis County high schools, the Reubens Demons, the Winchester Loggers and the Craigmont Cougars, combined to form the Highland High School Huskies. They attend high school in Craigmont. From 1970-75, I was the school superintendent of the Highland school, so I know many people who graduated from Craigmont High School, like Bob Tatko and Mason Thomason, and Winchester High School, like the late Buck Heath. Bob’s wife Francie Tatko graduated from St.Gertrude’s High School.
Idaho County high schools combined to form new high schools as well. The White Bird Chiefs in 1942 and the Riggins Buckaroos in 1956 became the Salmon River Savages in Riggins. I was the high school principal at Salmon River from 1966-68 and we had lots of good students from White Bird. They rode the bus 30 miles from the Pacific Time Zone to Riggins in the Mountain Time Zone. If they want, White Bird youths can now go 18 miles to Grangeville on the new road replacing the White Bird Grade.
Yes, some small high school town names are gone, but not forgotten.
Riggs, 90, is a lifetime Lewistonian. He’s an avid Warriors fan, a retired educator, coach and school superintendent and volunteers his time at the Nez Perce County Historical Society. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.