The Worth School
Worth County Reporter--Dec. 1987
By Bill Gladstone


When the school districts were laid out in Worth County it was the general rule that each district would serve about 4 square miles and the schoolhouse would be located near the center of the district so no student would have to walk more than two miles to school and so no neighboring school was nearer to a students home than was the school in his own district.
These general rules did not always hold true, especially after some schools began to consolidate.
There was a line of schools across the county a mile north of the Worth/Gentry County line and the schools were about two miles apart. Two miles north of this line of schools was another line and so it was on up through the county.
When the town of Worth was established in 1899 it was along the eastern edge of the Shiloh school district. The schoolhouse was located at the crossroads west of the southwest corner of town. The Shiloh district served a four square mile area as did most of the districts in the county.
Now no self respecting, up and coming, town would be satisfied with sending their children out of town to a country school so a movement soon began to relocated the district school into town and to change its name.
Quite naturally the people along the western edge of the Shiloh district didn't want to go as far to a school as a new school in town would have them go. The Leonard district, lying just to the west of the Shiloh district, suggested to the families in the west part of the Shiloh district going into the Leonard district. The name of the Shiloh district was changed to the Worth district and the first of three schoolhouses was built in the town of Worth.
On June 7, 1902, the voters of the district authorized the board of education to issue $2500 in bonds to pay for the construction of a new schoolhouse.
In 1902/03, a two story, two room, brick schoolhouse was built on a hill in the southwest part of town. The first four grades were housed on the upper floor.
In the year 1917 two significant educational things happened in the town of Worth. First, the voters approved a $7500 bond issue and construction began on an addition to the school building to house a high school. In addition, 13 students began their first year of high school in the west room of the Methodist Church.
Those first ever students in Worth High School were: Alma Batman, Austin Harris, Ruth Barnes, Malcolm Barnes, Kate Trump, Mont Trump, Lucille Wallace, Harold Mathews, Lilly Dannar, Blanche Moore, Hazel Fronk, Lela Peterson and Thelma Conway. The first teacher was James Howney.
By the fall of 1918 the addition was completed and the elementary students occupied the two rooms on the ground floor and the high school student occupied the second floor. The north half of the upper floor served as the studyhall and the south half was divided into two classrooms. In addition to the two rooms being added to the north of the old building a basement was put under the new addition and a coal furnace was installed.
In 1918 a second year was added to the high school curriculum. Edna Craven was the high school teacher that second year with Lois Trump teaching the upper grades and Retha Gross teaching the lower grades.
The high school operated as a two-year high school for three years; through the 1920/21 school year. In the fall of 1921 a third year was added to the curriculum and in the fall of 1922 a fourth year was added. The spring of 1923 marked the first graduation from Worth High School. Those first graduates were Opal Dye, Urith Miller, Othello Mathews, Ted Uglich and Byron Miller.
In the mid-1920's Fred Jennings spearheaded a drive to convert an old wooden building which sat on Main Street into a suitable place for basketball and also to be used for other school and community activities.
Previously the building had served as a garage, a skating rink and for storage. The building has a flat roof and a row of supporting poles ran down the center of the building.
The old roof with its supporting poles was removed and was replaced with a pitched roof. Compared to the standards of today it was indeed a crude place but in its day it was more than adequate.
In 1943 the board of education make the decision to close the high school and transport the students to the high school in Grant City. Several factors let to that decision. World War II was at its height and qualified teachers were becoming increasingly difficult to find. The high school population had began to dwindle and the per pupil cost was beginning to escalate.
The Worth School District continued to operate an elementary school until the eastern 2/3 of the county was reorganized in 1951 and the district was absorbed into the new district.
The reorganized district continued to operate an elementary school at Worth until the mid 1960's when it was closed and all of the students were transported to the school in Grant City.
The original building, along with the addition, was completely destroyed by the tornado which swept through the town on April 29, 1947. One of the first buildings to be replaced after the storm was the schoolhouse. The new building was rebuilt on the old foundation but was a one-story building.