I have been in communication with John Darnall who is organizing the reunion for the Murray Training School Class of 1961 which is to be next Saturday, June 26. The reunion will take place at the original site of the Training School beginning at 5 p.m. A catered meal will be served and tents and chairs will be provided. John plans to outline the original school on the ground where it was previously.
Other classes have been notified and invited to attend this reunion, and according to John, several classes have expressed a desire to be a part of this gathering.
If you attended the Murray Training School/College High/University School and wish to be a part of this event, contact Vernon Gantt at 270-753-9679.
In addition to the information John sent me in reference to the reunion, he also sent me a story written by the late L.J. Hortin about how the school came about and its rich history.
“Almost 50 years ago, on Jan. 28, 1928, Dean John W. Carr wrote in his diary that the Training School, on that day (Saturday), moved into its new building on the campus of Murray State Normal School and Teachers College. The founder of the college, Dr. Rainey T. Wells, was president.
The story of the Training School cannot be told without recalling the beginnings of the college itself, for Murray State Normal School was essentially chartered as a training school for teachers. It all started in the fall of 1921 when the Kentucky Educational Commission reported to Gov. Edwin P. Morrow, ‘Kentucky will never have an adequate supply of professional teachers unless more and better teacher-training schools are created.’
Consequently, the Commission recommended that two new schools, in addition to Eastern at Richmond and Western at Bowling Green, be created and located, one in eastern Kentucky and one in western Kentucky.
On March 8, 1922, Senate Bill No. 14, signed by Gov. Morrow, became the first Charter of Murray State and Morehead State (Normal Schools). It was an act to provide for the establishment of two normal schools for the training of … elementary teachers, and appropriating moneys for the maintenance and operation thereof.
On Sept. 24, 1923, Murray State Normal School opened its doors in the Murray High School building with Dr. John Wesley Carr as president. There were 202 students - 67 men and 135 women. Only 87 were of college rank. The others were of high school level. All were studying for the teacher’s certificate.
One of the most significant steps that made the Training School possible was the establishment and appointment in 1924 of a Board of Regents for Murray State Normal School. Mrs. Laurine Wells Lovett, daughter of President Wells, was a member and the secretary of the first Board of Regents. Others on this board were McHenry Rhoads, chairman; G. Prentice Thomas, James F. Wilson and Thomas H. Stokes.
Possibly the first official action that led to the establishment and growth of the Training School took place on April 14, 1924. At their first meeting, the first Board of Regents of Murray State Normal School appointed a special committee to plan a training program for teachers. The special committee recommended that the “Training School” be organized with classes in the Murray High School building during the 1924 summer session.
Dr. Carr’s personal diary credits June 16, 1924 (Monday) as the date of the opening of the Training School. His handwritten notation is underscored to show he attached a great deal of significance to the date.
Whether or not the planner envisioned the Training School as it later became, of course, cannot be pin-pointed. In any event, on June 16, 1924, the experimental summer session “Training School” was started for grades 1-8 in the Murray High School building and all expenses were paid by the Murray State Normal School.
Teachers for this 1924 session were listed as: Miss Bertie Manor, first and second grade; Miss Ada T. Higgins, third and fourth grades; Mrs. Klyde Vaughn, fifth and sixth grades; and Miss Mary S. Mulligan, seventh and eighth grades. Enrollment in each two-grade section was 24 to 29, with a total of 111 students. The “temporary” principal was Miss Mulligan and Mrs. Vaughn was a “temporary” teacher.
Designed to give city and county boards a chance to see how a training school operates, the summer “experiment” was adjudged to be excellent for students, boards and parents. They all thought it demonstrated that practice teaching, with supervision, would be advantageous to the children.
Both President Carr and Tax Commissioner Rainey T. Wells were former school teachers and principals and both believed in securing the best possible training system for teachers. Both men private and publicly, paid tribute, again and again, to the cooperation and spirit of mutual support that existed between the townspeople and Murray State.
Nowhere was the cooperation more evident than it was in connection with the development of the Training School. The townspeople had raised $117,000 to build the Normal Building (Wrather Hall) and to establish the new school in Murray. Then the city school provided quarters for opening in their building. Their children attended these “Training School” sessions, and later attended the college itself.
Following the successful “experimental” training school session in the summer of 1924, plans were made to operate the Training School the following year, 1924-25.
It would be in connection with the city schools of Murray with the city superintendent as director of teacher training, part-time. Teachers were appointed as Training School teachers who were approved by each school. Children would be placed in these classrooms or in the regular system.
For the first nine months, the school was in the high school building. Before the Training School building was erected, ‘Training School’ classes were conducted in three buildings;
1924-25 - in Murray High School, James H. Hutchison, supervisor.
1925-26 - in the administration building (now Wrather Hall), W.J. Caplinger, superintendent of Murray City Schools, supervisor of the Training School and chairman of the department of education and student teaching.
1926-28 - in Wilson Hall, W.J. Caplinger, supervisor.
Dr. Ralph Woods’ History of Murray State University indicates that during the first three years, 1924-27, the curriculum of the 11th and 12th grades included courses to quality persons to become teachers. There were 58 who completed their training in 1925 and received three-year teaching certificates. Many were students from Murray and Calloway County and they were qualified to teach or to enter college. Some were adult teachers who were attending so that their teaching certificates could be renewed.
It should be noted that many names were used besides “Training School” - practice school, model school, demonstration school. Later were to come Murray Normal School, Murray Training School, Murray College High, Murray State University School and Laboratory School.
Significant changes took place in Murray State just before and after 1926. Dr. Rainey T. Wells became president on May 1, 1926, and Dr. Carr resigned to become dean. In 1926, the named was changed from Murray State Normal School to Murray State Normal School and Teachers College. It now was qualified to grant degrees as well as certificates.
It was in 1926 that Lee Clark and Dr. Wells guided through the state legislature the bill that appropriated $400,000 for “improvement” for Murray State. These “improvements” included two new buildings - the Teacher Training School and a huge, beautiful auditorium (Lovett).
Construction work started on the new Training School building in the spring of 1927. It was completed January 1928, and the school moved in on Jan. 28, 1928.
Dr. Woods reported that the total cost of the building, exclusive of furnishings, was $148,711.
The college, Murray, Calloway County and the region were proud of their 86-room Training School. It had 12 training units, each consisting of a classroom, three practice rooms, and offices. There were four modernly equipped laboratories, a large library, two rooms for the art department, eight standing classrooms and office space.
The sheilds in stone decorated the front and entrance - one was the keystone in the archway and two inside the entrance door. The three-starred shield had already been adopted by the Board of Regents as the official emblem of Murray State.
At the time the new Training School building was occupied Jan. 28, 1928, the faculty was increased to 17.
By Dec. 1, 1931, the Great Depression had depleted the operational funds of Murray State Teachers College. In 1930, by action of the General Assembly, the words “Normal School” were dropped and it became Murray State Teachers College.
Faculty members taught without pay from December 1931 to May 1932. To reduce costs, President Wells initiated measured that led to the discontinuance of grades 10, 11 and 12 and summer sessions at the Training School. Students were sent to city and county schools, and teachers were given indefinite leaves of absence.
With Dr. Carr as president again (1933-36), the senior high was re-established on Sept. 11, 1934. Carmon Graham was principal and Clifton Thurman, Murray State alumnus, was the first man teacher in the Training School. He taught math and coached basketball.
In the early years of 1945-68, Murray State had an arrangement whereby the school students were drawn from specific areas in the county. Utterback, Outland, Martins Chapel, Gunners Flat and Wells schools were closed and children from these districts were bussed to the Training School.
In the 1950s, the county and the college made another agreement. “County classrooms” were established for divided elementary classes. Students who wished to attend the Murray State operated rooms were required to pay tuition. The Training School eliminated school district boundaries and accepted students from any district, including some from out of the county.
Each classroom contained two grades and the building was overcrowded. A priority list was set up in 1959 for the first six grades and the name of the school was changed to Murray College High. In 1948, Murray State College became the official name of the college.
With Wilson Gantt as director (1956-1963), and Mrs. Lillian Lowry as foreign language teacher, a modern, efficient language laboratory was installed. New science laboratories were complete in 1964.
Vernon Shown was principal from 1963 to 1972. In the 60s, the Training School building was needing some repairs and renovations and in October 1965, the faculty and students learned a bond issue would provide funds for a complete renovation.
In 1966, the announcement came that Murray State College had become Murray State University. Gov. Edward T. Breathitt signed the bill on Feb. 16, 1966.
At that time, 1968, Murray College High became Murray State University School. Dr. Ralph Woods was still president. A proposed plan for a merger of the University School with the Murray City System was discussed by a committee during 1966-67, but the plan was not adopted.
Meanwhile, plans for the complete renovation of the Training School building were being amended. Mr. Shown, director of University School, and Dr. Donald B. Hunter, chairman of the department of education, led a successful movement to expand, as well as renovate.
Construction on the new “University School,” adjacent to the old Training School, began in the summer of 1967. It was occupied in the fall of 1969. Dr. Harry M. Sparks became the fifth president of Murray State University in January 1968.
The cost of the new University School was $1,718,275.
On May 3, 1968, the director of the University School, Mr. Shown, told the faculty and students that Dr. Harry Sparks, president of Murray State, would recommend to the Board of Regents that grades 7-12 be discontinued at the school.
The Board of Regents, in 1968, decided to discontinue grades 7-12 in June 1970, giving the students and faculty two years to make educational and occupational decisions. Dr. Sparks explained that the extremely small enrollment in these grades made it impractical to provide the necessary variety of courses for the students as well as for the observers.
On June 4, 1970, grades 7-12 at the University School were officially closed.
It was decided to continue grades K-6 in the new addition to the Old Training School building. Dr. Janice Hooks, associate professor in instruction and learning, was principal from 1972-1978.
Thus ended an era of a high school - Training School - that had produced graduates, many of whom have become leaders in many walks of life. Also, hundreds of teachers had learned, by observation and participation in the Training School, the art and goals of their profession.
The Old Training School which had opened so gloriously and brilliantly 42 years earlier, was completely vacated when the summer session opened in June 1970.
Dr. Constantine Curris came to Murray State University as the sixth president on Sept. 15, 1973. He immediately inaugurated a series of organizational, academic and physical changes in the university. The old Training School building had fallen into a state of disrepair with broken windows, leaking roofs and deteriorating ceilings and walls. The regents authorized the dismantling and removal of the structure from the campus. On Oct. 24, 1974, bulldozers and a dismantling crew moved in and the Training School building was no more. It was 46 years and nine months since it was occupied Jan. 28, 1928.
In the spring of 1976, the Training School, as an institution on the campus was abolished. Some of the most enthusiastic students from the Training School were in sports. The school had teams in football, baseball, track and tennis at various stages of the school’s history. The Murray State Shield in 1940 paid this tribute to the Training School basketball team: “To the greatest team in the history of the Training School.” All losses except one were to the district winner or runner-up.” The season closed by a victory over Murray High School 28-26, the first athletic meeting of the two schools.
Wells Lovett, grandson of the founder of the college, Dr. Rainey T. Wells, was a member of the team. Also a member was Gene Graham, later a Pulitzer prize winner.
Remarkable success was achieved in debating and speech. As early as 1930, the debate team was described as the best in Kentucky, according to Dr. Woods’ history.
In the final high school commencement to be held at the University School June 1, 1970, the 22 graduating seniors heard an address by Murray State Alumni Director Mancil J. Vinson.
Two days later, on June 4, 1970, the Murray State University Schools grades 7-12 were officially closed.”