West High’s School Building Turns 100 This July

Autumn Zielke

Here’s a little history. The oldest public high school in Utah, West High School was established in 1890 and was originally called Salt Lake High. After about 30 years of operation, West became too small for its large student body. The school was rebuilt and reopened on July 3, 1922, just in time for the coming school year. The principal during this reconstruction was Fred D. Keller.

To learn more about life at West 100 years ago, I looked at some Red and Black’s from the 1921-1922 school year. Taking a look at old Red and Black’s was interesting. The newspaper’s setup was different back then. It used columns, and most stories were split up between pages. One thing that I found interesting was how West High and East High news used to be in the same paper. Another West High publication that was popular back then was the “Yell Book,” a four-page pamphlet that contained twelve West High yells and five school songs.

Here are some interesting things that were mentioned in the newspapers I read:

There used to be a senior sluff day.

Students had a day off on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In December of 1921, several homeless people broke into the cafeteria at West. Nothing was stolen, but they did fry a few eggs and eat some cake and candy. They washed and put away everything that they used.

1922 was also the first year that the West and East yearbooks were separate.

Comics were added into the Red and Black later in the year.

Ads for other businesses were placed throughout the newspaper. Most of them were clothing ads.

Harold Ross, who founded the world-famous New Yorker magazine in 1925, worked on The Red & Black while at West.

It was interesting to see what life was like at West a hundred years ago. We are lucky to have a record of almost all of the issues of The Red and Black since its founding. The archives we have in the journalism room are not only interesting to read, but a great way to view history from the perspective of young people. If you would like to see some of the historic issues of The Red and Black for yourself, email our journalism advisor at [email protected].