Shawnee Mission North High School students, staff and alumni are set to celebrate the school’s 100th anniversary over the course of three days later this week, which marks the official centenary for what is believed to be Johnson County’s oldest functioning high school.
Why it matters: Known affectionately as “the Brick House,” SM North, which opened its doors as Shawnee Mission Rural High School in 1922, is the oldest high school still in operation in Johnson County, according to local experts.
What we know: Andrew Gustafson, curator of interpretation at Johnson County Museum, said several other high schools opened in Johnson County before SM North but no longer operate as schools.
- That includes what was known as Stanley Rural High School, built in 1920, which is now the Blue Valley Education Center and District Offices.
- Stilwell School, built in 1909 and operational until 1962, is now a private home, Gustafson added.
- Gustafson said he was unable to determine what happened to others like Edgerton Rural High School, built in 1919, and Spring Hill Rural High School, built in 1925 or 1926.
- Becky Grubaugh, communications and media manager for Olathe Public Schools, said the Red Brick High School opened in 1898.
- This was replaced by John P. St. John High School in 1927, which still stands at the Mill Creek Campus today, Grubaugh said.
What’s in a name: Originally named Shawnee Mission Rural High School, the Brick House opened in 1922 as a two-story school with three semicircular arches — which still exist today.
- It was later named Shawnee Mission High School and the “North” was added later as the district expanded its footprint.
New mascot: The 2022-23 school year is also the first year in which the school has fully transitioned away from its original Indian mascots and has now implemented the new Bison mascot.
- Principal David Ewers said that over the last century, SM North has developed a “timeless tradition for success” in everything from the performing arts to sports.
- The unique traditions at SM North — including the crowning of only a homecoming queen and choosing a “North Man” each year — are part of what make the North experience special, Ewers said.
What they’re saying: “The room we’re sitting in now [the principal’s office at SM North] used to be the board of education,” Ewers said. “There’s a lot of history and tradition here, and it’s also a celebration of our transition as we, hopefully, see a whole brand new 100 years of greatness.”
Shawnee Mission North 100th anniversary celebration
SM North will combine the school’s 100th anniversary with its homecoming weekend from Friday, Sept. 9 to Monday, Sept. 12.
- The celebration will kick off with a homecoming parade, tailgate and football game on Friday, Sept. 9.
- Alumni and the larger SM North community can explore the changes at the school during an open house on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Alumni can also sign their graduating class up to reserve a specific classroom for mingling or as a “home base” by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On Saturday, there will be an alumni-centric homecoming celebration in the field house from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by a homecoming for current students from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Sept. 12 will feature school and community speakers and the re-creation of a 1922 senior class picture, Ewers said.
Key quote: “There’s a certain amount of pride for people who not only went to school here, but who send their kids to school here, too,” Ewers said. “I just got done telling freshmen parents [their students] can accomplish anything they want here. I’ve seen it happen — you can be whatever you want to be at Shawnee Mission North.”