For Mission family, attending SM North is a four-generation tradition dating back to 1930s

Julia Rushing (from left), Frank Bruce and Deborah Rushing outside SM North. Frank is holding a picture of his mother, who graduated from the school back in the 1930s.
Julia Rushing (from left), Frank Bruce and Deborah Rushing outside SM North. Frank is holding a picture of his mother, who graduated from the school back in the 1930s.

When Julia Rushing starts her freshman year at SM North next month, she might want to hit the library to dig up a copy of the yearbook from 1931.

And 1956. And 1990.

Gertrude Dake, the first member of the family to attend what is today SM North.
Gertrude Dake, the first member of the family to attend what is today SM North.

Those were they years her great grandmother, grandfather and mother, respectively, graduated from the school. When Julia’s great grandmother Gertrude Dake started high school at age 13, it was known as Shawnee Mission Rural. By the time her grandfather Frank Bruce began classes, it had become Shawnee Mission High School. And when her mother Deborah Rushing started, the name had changed to Shawnee Mission North.

But, says Deborah, the traditions and culture that made her proud to be a third-generation Indian are still going strong as her daughter gets ready to become the fourth generation of the family to attend.

“I love the fact that it’s almost 100 years old, and it’s still primarily the same school that it was then,” she said.

The SM North community is one of the main reasons the family has stayed rooted in Mission, Deborah said. In fact, she and her husband live in the house she grew up in and that her great grandfather built near 53rd Street and Riggs.

“We’re really proud to be Indians. I couldn’t image her going anywhere else,” Deborah said of Julia’s upcoming start. “[It’s] one of the specific reasons we stayed in the area. Awesome staff, a great tradition, and the diversity is incredible. I think it’s a nice microcosm of the world.”

As for how Julia feels about carrying on her family’s SM North tradition?

“It’s pretty cool,” she said.