Lee High School (Wyoming, Michigan)

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Lee High School is a small high school in Wyoming, Michigan that is part of the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools school district. In 2005 it had an enrollment of 352. Its mascot is the "Rebbie" and they're known as "Rebels". The school colors are navy blue and vegas gold. In 2017, it got a bronze medal for national recognition.

Reading programs[edit]

The school is attempting to encourage book reading among its students. In May, 2005, it was reported that the school rewards after-school reading with "Reading Rebels" T-shirts and was considering awarding varsity letters to outstanding readers as well as athletes. [1]

History[edit]

The first area school was built around 1857 on a 1-acre (4,000 m2) plot of land near what is now the southeast corner of Nagel and Chicago Drive. It was called the "Green School," a small building with four windows, a wooden ceiling, blackboards, and double seats. Approximately thirty-five students attended in the first years. At the time, Chicago Drive was known as the Grandville plank road and a tollbooth located on the corner of Chicago Drive and Godfrey (where the Four Star gas station is now) charged a penny to travel on it.

By 1894, the number of children had grown so large it was time for a new school building on the present Godfrey Elementary site. During construction, a store on the southwest corner of Godfrey Avenue and Seneca Street was rented to relieve overcrowding at the Green School. Growth was so rapid that the Godfrey school had to be increased in size from the original two rooms to ten rooms by 1910. The first two years of high school were also added.

District No. 7, which is what Godfrey-Lee was known as at that time, continued to grow and by 1921 the need for a second school building was evident. Property was purchased and the new school opened in November 1923. The school, which consisted only of the front section of the current building, was built along the Grand Rapids, Holland and Chicago Interurban (electric) train line. The street in front was originally identified as State Street on early plat maps but for some unknown reason had been changed to Lee Street around 1914. It was a single-lane dirt road that ran along the interurban right-of-way. Thus, the new school took on the name of the Lee Street School.

The surrounding area looked much different back then. There were very few homes at the time. Havana Street was called Hawthorne and Engel was known as Engelwood. The district had the second largest number of students for any "rural" district outside of the city of Grand Rapids. The Lee Street School, which saw its first graduating class in 1925, had five major additions added to it beginning with the east wing during the summer of 1925, the west wing in 1930, the gym in 1952, the east science wing in 1960, and the middle school in 1988.

In 1930, the rear of the school was graded for a football field. During 1936-38, a W.P.A. project helped construct the Godfrey-Lee Athletic Field, considered at the time to be the finest athletic complex outside of the city of Grand Rapids. It was built on a piece of ground along Plaster Creek commonly known as "Happy Hollow," and the first games were played during the 1938-39 school year.

School buildings[edit]

District No. 7 got its start in the Green School, a one-room wood-frame school house located near the corner of presentday Nagel and Albers streets. By the 1890s, this building was insufficient for the number of students attending school and the decision was made to move to a temporary classroom located on Godfrey near Seneca, where the gate to Lee Field is located today. There is no record of why a new school wasn't built on the existing GreenSchool site, but it's possible the landowner did not want to renew the lease.

By 1894, the student population of District No. 7 was such that a new school building was necessary and bonds were approved to build the first two rooms of the old Godfrey school, located approximately where the fourth grade classrooms are today. The school consisted of an "upper room" and "lower room." By 1905, there were 131 children enrolled necessitating the construction of two more rooms and in 1907, the district's first principal was hired.

Two years later, the ninth and tenth grades were added to the Godfrey school with just a handful of students at these levels. An 8th grade education was the standard in those days and it took the passing of an exam to continue beyond the 8th grade. The district paid tuition for students attending other area high schools as 11th and 12th graders.

In 1909, four more classrooms were built to accommodate the growth in student numbers and two years later a kindergarten was established. More rooms were added following a 1915 vote, but the building was steadily becoming outdated as well as a firetrap.

In the 1930s, there was talk of purchasing the "Happy Hollow" area to build a new elementary school to replace the aging Godfrey building. Nothing came of it and eventually it became the location of the athletic complex. The depression and World War II prevented any other major construction projects.

Finally, in 1951, a new Godfrey School was built just south of the old building following quite a bit of work to convince the voters to approve the bonds. Three years later, the need arose to add four additional rooms to the east wing of the school and just a year later, another four rooms were added to the north wing. There were 1,050 students enrolled in the district at that time. The south parking lot wasn't added to the building until 1957 and at that time the old stage, since removed, was constructed in the Godfrey gym. It had been hoped years earlier to build a fine arts auditorium when the old Lee gym stage was removed, but that dream never materialized.

The final addition to Godfrey was in the late 90's when additional rooms were added to the north wing following the purchase of property once occupied by Tina's, a candy and soda store known well by area kids during the 60's and early 70's.

PTA[edit]

According to records of the organization's historian, the PTA was organized at Godfrey School on December 2, 1921. Mr. M.A. Becker, Superintendent of Schools, presided over the meeting. The program included songs by students, led by Mrs. Jeffers, and a piano solo by Miss Sadie Kamp. Speakers included Mr. Lowrey and Mrs. Florence Utter, a long-time teacher in the district. Mrs. Utter then presided over the organization of the PTA. The first name of the PTA was the Godfrey Avenue Public School Parents & Teachers' Club.

New High School[edit]

On December 14, 1923, dedication exercises were held at 8:00 p.m. for the new Lee Street School. Superintendent M.A. Becker presided over the event with Mrs. Llewellyn Weaver, President of the Parent-Teachers Association, in charge of the reception committee. Mrs. Glenn R. Thayer chaired the social committee.

Following a reception and inspection of the new school, a program was held in the new auditorium. The Lee High School orchestra, no doubt very small because the high school only went through the 10th grade at the time, played an overture title Arcadia and the Siren march. This was followed by an invocation by Rev. Garret Menning, Pastor of the Eighth Reformed Church on Burton Street, and a welcome address by Henry J. Beld, school board president.

The high school glee club performed "Singing in the Rain" by Jerome and "Heather Rose" by Heinrich Werner. Members of the Mrs. Byron R. Pierce, Tent No. 17, Daughters of Union Veterans, presented flags for the new school. The high school orchestra performed two additional numbers: "America" and "Michigan, My Michigan."

A.M. Freeland, county commissioner of schools, gave an address, followed by a solo sung by Margarett Roszell titled "Whispering Hope" by Alice Hawthorne. Mrs. Mable Winters Willsen gave a dramatic reading and the Grade Reformed Church orchestra then provided appropriate music. Rev. C. H. Spaan, pastor of the church, also addressed the audience.

Mrs. Orlow Tillyer sang "Take Joy Home" by Karolyn Basset and then Rev. Herbert McConnell, pastor of Smith Congregational Church, gave the benediction. This was followed by music performed by the high school orchestra at the ceremony's closing.

Soon after the Lee school opened during the winter of 1923, it became evident that more space was needed. An east-side wing was constructed to provide additional classrooms and opened by 1926.

This addition proved not to be sufficient as District No. 7 continued to grow. Additional space was needed so a west side wing was proposed. The following accounts were taken from the 1930 and 31 editions of the Lee Echo yearbook, describing the changes in the Lee building during the first several years:

1930 - During the year 1929, work was begun on an addition to Lee High School. This addition consists of twelve rooms, one of which is to be used as a junior high assembly. The high school session room will not be crowded now, since the junior high will have its own room. The new addition is built entirely of non-inflammable material except wood casings and furniture. A new Chemistry Laboratory was built over the old lunch room, now the new office. All equipment in the laboratory is of the latest type. This room will accommodate a very large class, even larger than the Chemistry class of 1930.

This addition to Lee will make it the largest rural high school in Kent County. It is hoped that Lee's growth will necessitate the building of larger additions which will make it one of the largest township high schools in Michigan.

1931 - Upon returning to school in September, the student body found the new addition and laboratory ready for immediate occupation and use. Some students with the aid of Miss Jonker set to work at once to organize the high school library. After several weeks, the pupils were permitted the use of the books, and since students are librarians, the teachers were relieved of much irksome responsibility. Unfortunately the reading room could not be used because there was no instructor who could be spared the time to supervise the students there. We hope this matter can be remedied next year.

Although the new Junior Session Room greatly relieved the crowded condition of the Senior Session Hall, we find the check was only temporary, as the number of the student body increases every semester. Some time in the near future it may be necessary to again consider ways and means of relieving over-crowded rooms. We hope that under these circumstances those in authority will see fit to erect a splendid new building which shall contain, among other features, both an auditorium and a gymnasium.

Lee Field[edit]

In September 1938, a large crowd gathered to dedicate the new athletic complex at Godfrey Avenue and Seneca Street. The first athletic event - the Kent county track meet - was held the previous June but a football game on the new field would not be played until Lee faced North Muskegon on September 23. The athletic field and playground represented a total outlay of $100,000 including labor, materials and the land, $30,000 of which was supplied by the district. The cost of the 11 acres (45,000 m2) was $10,000. Development of the field was completed as a depression-era Work Progress Administration (WPA) project.

When it was completed, the district was able to boast of the finest fields in Western Michigan with a 220-yard straight-away track, full quarter-mile track, two concrete tennis courts, combined softball and regulation baseball diamond, and the football field. There was also room for a skating rink during the winter months. Buildings and equipment on the grounds included a field house, equipped with showers and dressing rooms as well as a heating plant. The bleachers seated 2,000 and temporary ticket booths were located at the Seneca and Wheeler street gates. Topping it off was a complete water sprinkling system for the grounds.

Lee's old football and baseball field - now a parking lot and band practice area on the north end of the school - continued to be used for practice and playground purposes. For several decades, the City of Wyoming would freeze over the west end at the corner of Havana and Engle for a neighborhood skating rink.

Athletics in the early years[edit]

Athletics at Lee High School began with the occupation of the new school in the fall of 1923. Earlier that fall, a football team was organized but no equipment had been provided by the school. Those boys who were able to round up old headgear were considered very lucky. The rest played without. The home field was located in the back of the high school where the parking lot and middle school are currently situated.

With a new gym (where the band room is currently located), Mr. Marsh organized a boys' basketball team and they got an early start owing to the short football season. A girls' team was also organized. In the spring, a baseball team was organized.

In the fall of 1924, Mr. Bailey joined the staff as coach and organized the football team.

The basketball team that winter proved to be one of the best of its class in the state. The team began the season with a defeat at the hands of Creston High School, but after that loss, it quickly gained a feared reputation. The team journeyed to Kalamazoo to compete in the class "C" tournament of Western Michigan. After winning four games within eighteen hours, the team was eventually eliminated in the semi-finals by the Bridgman team, a team that won the finals that year.

A track team took the place of baseball in the spring of 1925 owing to Coach Bailey's experience as a sprinter.

The girls' teams in 1924-25 were under the tutelage of Miss Leach who led her basketball squad to a successful year. The girls' track team that spring set records in the dash and relay events at Lowell and won every event at the Suburban Meet and the West Michigan A.A.U. meet.

Lee Middle School[edit]

For the first 68 years of its existence, the Godfrey-Lee district (known then only as Wyoming Township District No. 7) operated first as an elementary only, steadily growing in the early 1900s to its first high school graduating class in 1925. From that point on until the late 1970s, there were three schools operating in just two buildings: Godfrey Elementary, Lee Elementary, and Lee High School. Only the high school grades were considered "set in stone," consisting of 8th through 12th grade. The remaining grades were shuffled back and forth between the two elementary buildings as student population changed from year to year.

In September 1979, Lee Middle School was born. Mr. Frank D'Amico was appointed by the Board to be the first Lee Middle School principal. At the time, he was principal of Lee Elementary, and would later serve as principal at Godfrey Elementary and the first principal of the new Early Childhood Center before taking over as superintendent. While at first, the middle school had to share building space with the high school and the elementary, in 1998 the middle school would move into the addition built ten years earlier as an elementary, giving it the space it needed to accommodate a modest growth to four sections in each grade.

Athletics[edit]

They compete in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver Division.

MHSAA State Championships[edit]

  • 1953 Boys Tennis - Lower Peninsula Class C-D
  • 1954 Boys Tennis - Lower Peninsula Class C-D (tied)
  • 1971 Boys Cross Country - Class C-D
  • 1972 Boys Cross Country - Class C-D
  • 1978 Boys Cross Country - Lower Peninsula Class C
  • 1981 Girls Cross Country - Lower Peninsula Class D.

Extra Curricular Activities[edit]

Science Olympiad[edit]

  • The students at Lee High School participate in the yearly Science Olympiad competition at Grand Valley State University.

Competitive Cheer[edit]

Sideline Cheer[edit]

Spanish Club[edit]

Student Council[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°55′54″N 85°42′01″W / 42.9316°N 85.7003°W / 42.9316; -85.7003