Denfeld High School

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Duluth Denfeld High School
Duluth, Minnesota
Type Public
Established 1905
Principal Sconiers
Faculty 53
Number of students 1034
Color(s) Maroon and Gold
Mascot Hunters
Information (218) 336-8830

Duluth Denfeld High School, also known as Denfeld High School, is one of two high schools in Duluth, Minnesota, along with Duluth East as of 2011 after the closure of Duluth Central. Serving over 1000 students from grades nine to twelve, Denfeld High School has become a West Duluth landmark. The school is known for its architecture, including a historic auditorium and a 120-foot clock tower visible from Grand Avenue.


Robert E. Denfeld

The home of the Hunters, Denfeld High School was known as Irving High School when it opened for classes on 11 September 1905. It was later called Duluth Industrial High School. When the school moved into today's MacArthur West school building at 725 North Central Avenue in 1915, its name was changed to honor Robert E. Denfeld, superintendent of Duluth schools from 1885 to 1916. During his tenure, the number of schools in Duluth increased from seven to 34. Denfeld was instrumental in the creation of a two-year program to train teachers which eventually grew to become the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The current building was constructed in red brick and limestone at a cost of $1,250,000 and opened in September 1926. Duluth architects Abraham Holstead and W.J. Sullivan designed the H-shaped English Gothic style building which features medieval carvings by Duluth master stone carver George Thrana. Thrana came to Duluth in 1889 from Norway where he was trained as a stone sculptor. He carved for 40 years in sandstone, granite, marble and limestone and his work is featured on many Duluth buildings including the Lyceum Theater, Old Central High School, Glensheen, the Board of Trade Building, St. Louis County Courthouse and the St. Louis County Jail.

Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Denfeld High School building is its 120-foot clock tower. The tower features eight buttresses. Its face was designed by Carl Shroer, a teacher at Central High School, and was completed by Denfeld students who welded together four sections cast in aluminum by the Duluth Brassworks Company. The numbers on the face were painted silver and the clock hands were gold painted wood. The face was later painted black to be easier read from Grand Avenue.

Denfeld High School's auditorium was built at a cost of $25,000 and is another of its most prominent features. It can accommodate nearly 2000 people in the audience, 200 on stage and includes an orchestra pit. Public figures who've visited in the auditorium include Richard Nixon and Johnny Cash. The auditorium was renovated for $1,200,000 and reopened in late 2006 after being closed for nearly a year. The auditorium is the annual venue for Denfeld's traditional Maroon and Gold Day assembly during the week of homecoming when the auditorium is adorned with maroon and gold decorations and the students are entertained with cheers, skits, music and school spirit. Alumni return to Denfeld for this display which is meant to motivate football players and fans for the homecoming game.

Homecoming Week[edit]

First floor hallway

Homecoming Week activities include daily dress-up days such as "Kid Day" (usually on Tuesday) and "Maroon and Gold Day" (every Friday for the last 100 years.) On Wednesday of Homecoming Week, a massive bonfire takes place in Merritt Park in West Duluth during which the game of Red Rover is usually played between the upper and lowerclassmen and every cheer in the cheerleaders' book is started. The biggest event during the week besides the football game and assembly is the hall decorating contest, where the interior first floor of the building is covered in handmade posters, streamers, locker signs, balloons and other decorations. Freshmen decorate the hall near the cafeteria and sophomores decorate the other half of the hall. Juniors decorate the second floor and seniors decorate the third floor.

Maroon and Gold Day[edit]

Auditorium decorations

Denfeld's Maroon and Gold Day is Friday of homecoming week. Students wear maroon and/or gold clothing and accessories. During the assembly, the band marches from the back of the auditorium through streamers and balloons to the orchestra pit playing the cadence and school song. Everyone stands throughout the entire assembly. After the school song is played, the National Anthem is sung followed by several skits, speeches by alumni and the Maroon and Gold Day Pageant. In this pageant, anybody can enter for a chance to become Maroon & Gold King or Queen. Each contestant is allowed to flaunt their costume and spirit to the audience. Winners are chosen by three judges, all Denfeld staff, based on audience reaction. After the pageant are more skits and the winner of the hall decorating contest is announced. The football team starting lineup is announced and the school song is played again at the end of the assembly.

The homecoming game[edit]

The Denfeld Marching Band and the Dance Team always perform during the halftime show.

The Milken Educator Award[edit]

On October 11, 2007 Denfeld social studies teacher Thomas Tusken was presented with the Milken Educator Awards, established by Milken Family Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken to provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. Only 35 educators in Minnesota had received the award at that time and Tusken was just the second recipient from Duluth. The award was presented to Tusken during an unexpected assembly, the purpose of which was unknown to students and staff. When Tusken's name was called, he received a standing ovation from the audience.

Future of the school[edit]

Additions under construction in July 2011

In the spring of 2007, restructuring of Duluth's elementary, middle and high schools was discussed. Three options were proposed:

  • The Red Plan: Central and East would no longer function as high schools, leaving Denfeld as the only original high school in Duluth. Ordean Middle School would be turned into a high school with both buildings being remodeled and expanded to accommodate 1500 students.
  • The White Plan: Denfeld and East would become middle schools capable of holding 1100 students. Central would not be used, as Ordean and a new western high school would be created to accommodate 3000 total students.
  • The Blue Plan: East and Denfeld would be transformed into middle schools. Central would be used as the lone high school after being expanded to accommodate 3000 students.

The Duluth School District ultimately chose a modified version of the Red Plan, leaving Denfeld open and adding approximately half of the Central population. To accommodate the increased student population, two new additions to the school were built. Additionally, the school underwent major reconstruction in order to conform to state standards. Construction began in 2009 and continued until 2011. To accommodate the new addition, Denfeld's signature brick chimney had to be removed. The chimney was an original feature of the building, but had not been used in many years. Construction crews cafefully removed the bricks, and the school planned to preserve some bricks for historical purposes. As a result of the construction, Denfeld and Central students both attended Central during the 2010-11 school year. In 2011, Central closed, leaving Denfeld and East as the only public high schools in Duluth.


  • Tonya M. Sconiers (2012–Present)
  • Ed Crawford (2005 to 2012)
  • William Westholm (1995 to 2005)
  • George F. Holliday, Jr. (1991 to 1995)
  • Dr. Stephen Seyfer (1984 to 1991)
  • Dr. Wayne Samskar (1970 to 1984)
  • Robert Van Kleek (1963 to 1970)
  • G. Dell Daedo (1948 to 1963)
  • Dr. Chester Wood (1945 to 1948)
  • James Taylor (1918 to 1945)
  • T. H. Shutte (1916 to 1918)
  • Scott Foster (1905 to 1916)

Athletic achievements[edit]


The "Hunters" name originates from Walt Hunting who taught, coached and was the athletic director at Denfeld from 1927-1956. A tribute to Hunting from his players, fans and the community at the silver anniversary of his coaching career in 1952 said, "It isn't the championships won that make Walt Hunting great. The boys who have played for him learned more than a game. They learned honesty, integrity and sportsmanship. Nobody could possibly be associated with Walt Hunting and not be better for it because he symbolizes everything great about America."

  • 1917 Football unofficial state champions
  • 1922 Football state runner-up
  • 1924 Football district champions
  • 1926 Football Head of the Lakes champions
  • 1927 Football unofficial state champions
  • 1933 Football city champions
  • 1935 Football unofficial state champions
  • 1941 Football city champions
  • 1942 Football unofficial state champions
  • 1945 Football city champions
  • 1946 Football city champions
  • 1947 Basketball state champions
  • 1947 Ski jumping state champions
  • 1948 Football state champions
  • 1950 Baseball state champions
  • 1951 Ski jumping state champions
  • 1953 Ski jumping state champions
  • 1964 Football city champions
  • 1974 Football "Super Bowl" champions
  • 1986 Hockey state 3rd place
  • 1988 Hockey state 4th place
  • 1989 Hockey state 3rd place
  • 1990 Girls Softball state 4th place
  • 1992 Girls Basketball state 4th place
  • 1994 Boys Soccer North-Sub-Section 4 champions
  • 1996 Football Sea Range Conference champions
  • 2000 Girls soccer Section 7A champions
  • 2002 Boys Soccer Lake Superior Conference champions
  • 2003 Boys Soccer Lake Superior Conference champions
  • 2004 Boys Soccer Section 7A champions, State participants.
  • 2004 Football North Country Conference co-champions
  • 2005 Football North Country Conference runners-up
  • 2006 Two-time state third-place finisher in swimming (50 free and 100 butterfly)
  • 2007 Football North Country Conference runners-up
  • 2010 Football North Country Conference champions
  • 2012 One Act Play Sections runners-up
  • 2012 Boys Soccer Section 7A second place
  • 2012/13 Boys Hockey Section second place
  • 2013 Boys Nordic Skiing conference champions
  • 2013 Girls Soccer Section 7A champions, State participants
  • 2016 Nathaniel Rosholt (class of 2016) goes to State in Nordic Skiing
  • 2016 Boys Soccer Section 7A champions, State participants
  • Quinten Rimolde (sophomore) and Nick Anderson (senior) qualified for the 2017 State Debate Tournament

Notable alumni[edit]

Coordinates: 46°44′55″N 92°09′31″W / 46.7485520°N 92.1585243°W / 46.7485520; -92.1585243[1]


External links[edit]