July 31, 2009
Celebrating Denfeld — and a quality
Commentary by Duluth News Tribune editorial board
A lot happened a century ago, in 1909. The first
concrete was poured for the Panama Canal. A 22-year-old housewife
became the first woman to drive across the U.S., traveling for 59
days with three female companions, none of whom knew how to drive.
Streetcars were taking Duluthians nearly everywhere they needed
to go. And the St. Louis County Courthouse opened.
Also, in West Duluth, the school that would become
Denfeld High School graduated its first class.
Saturday, an expected 1,000 Denfeld graduates,
supporters and others will celebrate that class’ 100-year
anniversary by inducting 10 new members into the school’s
hall of fame.
The inductees will include millionaires, a Hollywood
actress, the guy who invented the world’s first synthetic
motor oil, a World War II hero, the woman who designed Duluth’s
famous Rose Garden and others. Those expected to be in attendance
include descendents of Robert Denfeld, the nationally recognized
educational pioneer who served as superintendent in Duluth from
1885 to 1916, an era during which 27 new schools were built, and
the family of Walter Hunting, the legendary, long-time sports coach
from whom the school took its nickname, the Hunters.
The reunion-of-sorts is scheduled from 2 to 4
Beyond honoring well-deserving individuals, the
event promises to be a celebration of a Duluth landmark. Denfeld’s
famous clock tower has tickled the clouds at 44th Avenue West since
1926, although the school can trace its roots back to 1905 when
Duluth Industrial High School opened at the site of Irving Elementary.
The first Denfeld, at what is now Laura MacArthur Elementary on
Central Avenue, opened in 1915.
Tomorrow’s festivities can also pay tribute
to more than a century of quality education in Duluth. The city’s
first high school, Central, opened in 1892. That’s 117 years
of top-notch teaching and success stories from thousands of graduates.
The promise of thousands more rides on the construction
and reconstruction of schools under the Duluth district’s
current long-range facilities plan. Through that plan, a century
from now, in 2109, this weekend’s celebration could very well
still be going strong.