Monroe Local Schools
LMHS Project

One Hundred Year History of Lemon-Monroe Schools 1881-1981

(from the 1981 yearbook)

1800s 1900 - 1920s 1930s - 1950s 1960s - 1980s LMHS History Video

Monroe first elementaryIn the early days of Monroe HIgh School the township was divided into 12 sub districts. Monroe was sub district 10. Each sub district elected three men to serve as a board of directors for the elementary school in their sub district. The township board of education made most decisions such as hiring teachers, appropriating money and determining text books. The board of directors took care of the building.

The history of Monroe High School is closely connected to the elementary school. In 1868 a committee was appointed by the board of education to examine the school at monroe board minutesMonroe. The committee found the, "school inadequate and absolutely necessary to enlarge it our build a new school."(A description of the building is given in the board minutes dated March 22, 1869.) After deciding against adding to this building,the board investigated the possibility of purchasing the academy, a private school, but also decided against this. Land east of Monroe , belonging to Geo. Longstreet, was chosen as the best site for the new school. When he refused to sell, a lawsuit was brought against him. The court decided on $1,700 as just compensation for the two acres. Board members felt this prices was too high and decided to purchase two acres of land (the site of the present high school) from Has. P. Boyd, Harriet N. Boyd and Temperance Boyd. There was considerable disagreement as to where on the lot the building be located. It was finally agreed to, "Located on north side of lot 35 feet west from boundary line." The new four room building was accepted from the contractors February 2, 1871. The building and lot cost $6,600.

Dr. MaCreadyOn April 18, 1881 Dr. James Macready, who had been on the Lemon Township Board since 1868, asked permission to use the unoccupied room of the schoolhouse in sub district 10 for high school. The request was granted so long as it was not needed for the elementary school. Dr. Macready would have two of his own children in the first graduating class. The school was made up of Red Buck, Reed, Oak Hill, Mulford and Monroe Districts. J.M. Hunt was the first teacher in the school. Years later Ella Cheesman Vance remembered, "I can remember how some people talked against the high school and many expressed the opinion that it would only be for a short time." The first year there was only money for half of a school year. The next year S.I. McClellan came as a teacher and remained until 1888. In 1886 the first class graduated from Monroe with five members, John Mcready, Ella Cheesman Vance, Elmer R. Lowry, Ella Macready Vorhis, and Edgar Eugene Stewart. Each year thereafter would have a graduating class except 1897. There were to have been two graduates that year but Rose Conover died in late winter and Clarence Warner decided (he) did not want to graduate by himself, so he quit school in the spring.

lemon Township School 181Between 1888 and 1905 Mr. William Mason, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Hawk, Mr. Smith (first names not available) and Mr. Harry Frost served as teachers. Guy Dennison came in 1905. J.L. Miller, who came in 1910, received this letter from Dr. C.F. Macready: "Dear Sir: There is a vacancy in the Monroe High School. There is a four year course of study with 16 classes a day. The enrollment is 30. The years is 9 months, salary $900, or $100 per month... The town of Monroe is 350 in size, god country and three miles from the Big Four Railroad."

Since the high school was not a township school, decisions concerning it were not made by the township board of education but by the board of directors from the schools districts which attended the high school. Thus we have no records of decisions made concerning the high school until 1921. In 1922 two letters were Received by the Lemon Township Board of Education from fathers who were sending their children from Middletown High School because, "The High School you pretend to maintain at Monroe Butler County is not a legal School; and that it is not in fact teaching all the branches that are required to be taught to comply with the law... That you are trying to (with) one teacher to teach more than he is able; and that it's only a makeshift." One month later the board held a meeting to discuss organizing a first class township high school located in Monroe. Plans were made to add to the building in Monroe, but in november 1911 the stated condemned the building. The board voted to build a new building for $16,000. funds from the old Monroe High School were transformed to Lemon Township High School.

In 1911 the school had two teachers, Ida Masser (also spelled Moser) and J.L. Miller. For many years the board had a traveling teacher who went to all sub districts. In 1911 this teacher would begin music in the high school--R. E. Morrison was music supervisor in the rural schools of Wayne, Madison and Lemon Townships for about ten years, making the 30-35 mile trip daily over mud roads by motorcycle. All students took the same classes with no electives available. Among the requirements was four years of Latin.

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Ruth Swearington Finkbone, 1910, and Ada Mitzel Chance, 1912, recall travelling to Monroe from Liberty Township by Cincinnati-Dayton Road, a mud road. Not only was ada Mitzel a tuition student, but her father had to rent a stable in Monroe for her horse and carriage. (We learned buggy races were frequent on the way home from school.) During the senior year of Ada Mitzel the old building was torn down, and high school classes were held in Steward Hall (the house east of Riggs Funeral Home). Commencement exercises for all graduating classes were held in the Methodist Church. Senior received a class pin instead of a class ring, which would appearing the early 20's. As early as 1910 the colors of the graduation class were blue and gold.

lemon township school 1912Ed Boldender came as a high school teacher in the new building in 1912. This building would house both the elementary school and high schools. The "auditorium" was made by opening the divider between two large rooms. Students remember a lab on the left and a library on the right as they entered the building. Classes were held in the library. Water was a problem for the school for many years. A large cistern, which would hold 100 barrels, was built in 1917. In 1926 there were still difficulties so a pumping system was installed. Water was pumped from the cannery, which was located near the present railroad tracks on cincinnati-Dayton Road, to the school. In 1917 the board recognized "an epidemic of a contagious disease exists at Monroe, Ohio" and to guard against the spread required all pupils to be vaccinated against smallpox. Pupils were "excluded from attendance" who did not comply. Students were first furnished transportation in 1918. The first "bus" was a REO Wagon, pulled by a team of horses driven by Clem Harkrader.

We know of only one student who left the high school to serve in World War I. Marion boyd was older than his classmates because he had dropped out of school and then returned two years later. He joined the army during his senior year, 1918, and did not graduate.

During the early days of the school, boys and girls played baseball together, this being their only activity. The Butler County Fair was a great attraction, and two days of vacation were given each year at county fair time. School began the day after Labor Day and was a 9 month school. Christmas vacation did not usually begin until christmas Eve. Sports competition with other schools began in 1920 when the board adopted the Butler county Athletic Association rules ode township schools. Baseball was the number one sport. Tennis was played on two clay courts that were also used by the intraclass volleyball teams. An all school prom was held as early as 1918.

Transportation and a freer supply of money led to many changes in the 20's. A small orchestra was part of the music program. The board instituted a lecture series with four lectures per year, paid for by suggestions of the Current Events Club. (Monroe woman organized to study events and promote intellectual and social culture of its members), a cafeteria was begun December 9, 1921. With the financial backing of the Current Events Club and the willingness of each member to help, the hot lunch idea was a success. The cafeteria would furnish warm, correctly balanced lunches to pupils at a low cost. Milk was 2 (cents) a glass, cocoa 3 (cents), sandwiches 3 (cents) some substantial dish 41/2 (cents), and fruit 3 (cents). By 1922 the school employed four teachers. At this time one half the credit was given for "home projects in sewing, canning, pig raising, garden, field, poultry and music". Board minutes record a receipt for $100 from Dr. S. a. Livingston who had subscribed $300 toward a library at Monroe High School. Livingston was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, beginning his pastorate in Monroe in 1886.

lemon township school sealIn 1922 the high school requested an appropriate seal. On February 23 a design was submitted for approval. We are not given a description of the seal be we believe it to be the one that appears on the Mo-Le-To-Hi, th eannual of that year. (The school was known as the Monroe-Lemon Township high during the 20's.) It is from this seal that the logo for our centennial year is taken. The Mo-Le-To-Hi was published in 1922 and 1924. It was discontinued because of the expense of publication, with the class of '25 having to pay the indebtedness.

In 1921 land had been purchased anticipating an addition to the growing school. In 1923 the board entered an agreement with the architect for improving the building. "The auditorium will be the main feature of the new building because the basketball floor and the main play room will be just in front of the elevated, permanent stage. The farm shop will be in the basement also. Since the valuable addition of a Smith-Hughes agriculture teacher to our school, it is necessary to have an extra room. This year we were forced to use the old store room and have it made into a suitable farmshop room. On the first floor will be the four recitation rooms. Since there are four rooms it is impossible to have a confliction of any two classes because we have only four high school teachers. On the second floor there will be a study hall, library, laboratory and two restrooms. One for the boys and one for the girls... In the central hall there will be lockers in the wall for each particular student."

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monroe high schoo basketball 1925The new auditorium provided many new opportunities for Monroe students. Since the building was to be completed at the beginning of the 1924-25 school year, Otterbein Home allowed the first boys' basketball team to practice there two hours each Wednesday. Only one member of the team, Martin Bishop, had ever played any basketball. After the floor was finished, the team practiced at all hours. Earl hiteshue recalls John Maude, the janitor, allowed the boys in the school, at what was supposedly forbidden hours, so they could practice. Principal N. P. Blatt was the coach of the boys' team. Girls' basketball also began in 1925. The girls were county champs in 1928 and the "Golden Lads" were county champs in 1929. Everyone in Monroe, from the youngest to the oldest attended the games. The basketball banquets of those years were community affairs with everyone attending bringing a picnic basket.

Helen Murphy Monroe BasketballWhen the stage was completed, the students were faced with an empty shell. Students set to work to earn money to purchase the necessary equipment for the stage. Mary King thatcher, '26, recalls being in six plays in one year to raise money. The Monroe Grange also helped by contributing four light fixtures and stage curtains.

The new cafeteria opened November 14, 1925. The domestic science classes managed it, with the two ladies hired to do the cooking. Each high school girl had to take her turn serving one day a week. This would keep down the expense of hired help. The domestic science classes made their gym suits. These gym suits also served as the girls' basketball uniforms.

The first school newspaper, The Tattler, was printed in 1925. It continued until 1930 when it was replaced by The Lemon. The Tattle not only had stories about school events, but included pictures and the same kinds of articles that had been in the annual. One of the articles in the February 1929 edition of The Tattler was about the purchase of a radio for the school. Apparently several meetings were held and several sets tested before the school finally decided to purchase an 8 tube set, costing $127.50. Another interesting item mentioned in a later paper was the touring of the senior class to Cincinnati, October 22, 1929 to see President Hoover. In the early 30's The Lemon was the same kind of paper but was later a mimeographed paper.

monroe baseball team 1922In 1928 the boys were dismissed from school to haul cinders from Armco to build a track at Monroe.Girls' baseball was organized the following year. Until 1930 the Indian was the symbol of the school, but in the fall of 1930 the student body voted on a new mascot, the golden Hornet. The Hornet appeared on the class ring the first time in 1932. Until 1931 the school letter was a block "M" of blue felt. At the annual awards assembly of that year, athletes were presented with a seven inch chenille letter of navy blue trimmed in gold. (this letter is almost identical to one presented today) The boys' baseball team, with the exceptional pitching of Herb Helsinger, went to state tournament in 1931. Because of the larger number of participants and the expense of the game, football was not played at Monroe until 1935. (Full Football History and Team Pictures) Coach Wilfred Thies, who had been an all American at Ohio State in basketball, came to Monroe to coach all boys' sports (without and assistant). The football field was a cow pasture on the Hauser farm. It was their responsibility of the boys' physical education class to take buckets and shovels to the field to prepare it for practice and games. This class was called the P.W.A. crew of Monroe high School. The first record we have of cheerleaders is in '32 when James Stamper was presented a letter as a school cheerleader. Two boys and a girl made up the '38 squad. During the 38-39 school year the boys' basketball team had a record of 22-4. They went to state tournament as a class "B" team and won games. They were beaten by the team that won the state championship.

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Freshman and sophomore students from Mayfield, Rolling Mill Park, amanda and Excello were required to attend Monroe High School beginning with the 1929-30 school year. In 1936 pupils from the Maple Park area were required to attend Monroe. By 1937 the school was finally a high school for all of Lemon Township. The faculty increased dramatically. Twenty-two single teachers had to find find lodgings in Monroe. They remember the hospitality of Louise Fogarty who prepared dinner each evening for the entire group.

The growth of the school was slow in the early years. In 1886 five students graduated; in 1922 ten students graduated. With the addition of the Amanda area was a rapid increase. The freshman class of 1933 had one hundred two members. The largest group to graduate from Monroe was the class of 1871 which had 274 members. A total of 7,450 students have graduated from the school, with almost 7,000 of those being since '36.

Students saw little change in the high school during the depression years. Eight months of school were held during 32-33 and 33-34. The agriculture class was dropped, but commercial classes, which had begun in 1927, were continued because of their popularity. Teachers were not paid for extracurricular activities so these were not affected. Salaries of all personnel were reduced during this period. One year after receiving their pay September and October, teachers were notified the board was out of money. They went without pay until April. The community extended them credit. We also learned some students were so concerned that they gave them gifts of money.

In 1934 the school made application in north Central Association of college and High Schools. The school celebrated its "semi-centennial" in 1936. (50 years since the first class had graduated). A pageant was held depicting various stages of the school's development, and a special edition of The Lemon was dedicated to "50 Years of Progress".

Dr. Charles BennerIn 1937 the school board received no applications for vocal music teachers. The board decided to employ Charles benner as instrumental director of music for all township schools. During this year he developed a school music known as the "Brass" orchestra, because there was more brass than strings in it. In 1938 the first real school band was organized. "Starting with a handful of players there emerged a full fledged 36 piece band." "With the help of the Federal WPA projects, Song and the Alma Mater cloth was obtained and volunteers from throughout the county made uniforms of caps and capes. Lined with gold and satin, the blue wool caps were beautiful. That is until the second game, when rain dampened the capes and hearts of the players. Results of the soaking left the capes with the outside wool shrunken to half its original size and the satin stretched to twice its original size." By 1940 members had their new "bought" uniforms and marched every football game. Benner continued until 1942 when he joined the service. The Monroe Fight Song and alma Mater were written during this time by Benner and Eloise duchemin Brate, the vocal music teacher. (Band History Video)

In 1938 bids were opened for another addition to the school. This addition is the present cafeteria and the rooms above it.

By 1941 the school was feeling the effects of World War II. "Ray 'Pete" Black was the first Monreite toward whom Uncle Sam pointed his finger. Ray left september, 1942 before he was given a chair in homeroom." Conserving all materials was urged by the board. This notice was sent to the school. "In view of the rising prices of everyday essentials and supplies in the school, the board urges the faculty cafeteria managers and janitors of our school to conserve in every way possible on all supplies used in the school, whether furnished by the board or parents. We suggest use of both sides of paper for paper has become a key material in which a serious shortage is threatened..... If most of it were salvaged, there would be no lack of packaging for supplies to soldiers and sailors. Army ordnance plants use 30,000 tons of paper materials a month for packing shells." Rationing stamps created problems for the cafeteria, and gasoline rationing forced elimination of busses taking spectators to ball games. THE MERCURY, the school paper since 1939, was sent to all alumni in the service. In 1941 the "previous resolution providing for non-employment of married lady teachers" was suspended for the duration of the war. The government asked for, and received, typewriters from Monroe. Tentative plans were drawn for a new building, but because of scarcity and cost of materials plans were delayed. Detailed reasons for the need for a new bus had to be given before the board could purchase a new bus. By 1947 the servicemen were returning home, and several of them would return to high school.

A delegation of students who failed to make necessary credits the past year approached the school board in June of 1945 and asked for a summer school. Summer school was held that summer with students from Middletown also in attendance.

"One executive head of all Lemon Local Schools" was the decision of the board in 1946. C.W. Young was the first and only superintendent of Lemon Township Schools. He had been superintendent of the Monroe school since 1937.

Ten acres west of the school was purchased from John Zecher in 1948. This land was to be used as an athletic field. W. E. Davis was employed as the principal of the high school in 1949. He retained this position until 1970 when he took an administrative position in the Central Office. After his death in 1977, the Principal's Association established a scholarship in his memory, to be given to an outstanding Monroe Senior.

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Many of the current organizations at Monroe were begun in the thirties and forties. Student Council was re-established in 1932. In 1935 the W.C. Dress Chapter of the National Honor Society was formed. Dress was a former principal who had recently died. THE MONOCLE, the first yearbook since 1924, was published in 1938. (A mimeographed yearbook, THE ROCKET, was printed in 1937,) The sponsors, a group of six girls, M-O-N-R-O-E, was added to the band in 1947. Many musical productions were given at Monroe through the years, but it was the 48-49 school year that the Showboat Follies appeared, followed by Campus Follies in 49-50. The Wizard of Oz was the first Broadway musical Follies presentation. It was done in 1959. Pat Townsend was crowned queen and Jim Harrison king of the of the first homecoming at Monroe November 3, 1950. The cheerleaders were the attendants.

LMHS 1950In 1948 the first two floors of the building that now exists were added to the old building. What had been the front of the school became the rear. The third floor was added in 1951. Unsuccessful attempts were made to purchase an exit to Route 25. The new gym added in 53-54, the football stadium in 54-55, and the library and auditorium in 55-56. The west wing was added in 1967.

The most perplexing research we have done involves the name of the school. Nearly all alumni swear they have graduated from Monroe High School and are surprised to look at their diploma to find a different name on it. The official name of the school has not been Monroe high School since 1911 when it became Lemon Township High School. During the early 20's the school was called Monroe Lemon township High School. According to John Robinson, principal 1931-1938, the school was first called Lemon-Monroe during his administration. This name appears on many school programs but all diplomas from the 30's and 40's have Lemon Township High School. To illustrate the confusion, the commencement program of one year reads "annual commencement of Lemon-Monroe High School at Monroe High School Auditorium" and the diploma has Monroe Lemon Township High School. When the 1948 section was added, the name over the entrance was Lemon Township High School. There is no official name change recorded in the board of education minutes, but these minutes refer to the school as Lemon-Monroe first the first time in 1952. The class composite of '52 is the first to have the Lemon-Monroe name. The specific change is not recorded, but we assume this to be the changing of Lemon-Monroe over the entrance. Our school is now officially Lemon-Monroe, but in this centennial year it is still frequently called Monroe.

LMHS 1960In 1952 the first mention of the consolidation with Middletown School District is made in the board minutes. In April of '53 there was a combined board meeting with Middletown to discuss consolidation was tabled October '53. In June 1954 the Butler County Board of Education, the Middletown Board of Education and LEmon Township Board of Education had all passed resolutions for consolidation of the two school districts. On October 6, 1954 the Lemon Township Board of Education would meet for the last time. (Class of 1954 Interviews - Video)

The school mascot was updated in 1956; the fighting hornet, instead of the golden hornet, would be the rallying point for Monroe fans. Thespian Troupe 1709 was begun during the 57-58 school year. (Watch "History of the Hornet" video)

Monroe elementary school was built in 1954. This was the first time in the school's history that grades 1-12 were not in the same building. The seventh and eighth grades left the high school in 1968, and the ninth graders attended the freshman high school in 1969. Monroe remained a three year high school until 1981 when the Freshman High School was closed and ninth graders returned to Monroe.

Lemone-Monroe BellThe school bell of the 1870 building had been placed in the the bell tower of the 1912 building. When the 1912 building was torn down in 1967 there was no home for the old bell. A "save the bell" committee was formed, but money was not available. After the death of Gordon Hughes, II '69 his parents erected the bell structure on the football field as a memorial to him. The "victory bell" was dedicated in the fall of 1972.

Students of Monroe were very fortunate in 1969. School was not in session when a tornado touched down in Monroe on May 8. There was little structural damage to the building, but much broken glass would have certainly caused injury if students had been in the southern classrooms. Memorial stadium was badly damaged. All games in the next fall were played during the day because of damage to lights. A "cyclone" had broken windows at the school in 1928, but no damage was done then.

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The classes of the early 70's were outstanding in many ways. The football team was Mid-Miami league champs in 69, 70, 71 and 72. Monroe had its own version of social protest and attempts to change the world. The stinging satire of an underground newspaper kept everyone aware of a different point of view. Then there was the class that did not elect the usual class officers, but had a five member council, with each member being of equal importance. Although highly discouraged by the administration, some students wore black armbands to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam. These were the days when men on the faculty were no longer required to wear a coat and tie, and women actually wore slacks to school. We realize at the writing of this history we are too close to these years to properly evaluate their significance.

The title IX Federal Program, 1969, initiated drastic changes in the athletic programs at Monroe. According to this legislation all schools receiving federal money must have equal sports opportunities for males and females. Gold, cross country, soccer, football, volleyball, baseball, basketball, wrestling, softball, track and tennis teams competed for students and for use of the facilities.

Lemon-MonroePerhaps the bleakest days in Monroe history occurred September of 1979. After several unsuccessful tax levies the school board cancelled all extra-curricular activities. The day after the last levy defeat, students walked out of school protesting this action. A week later teachers went on strike, forcing the closing of the school. The strike lasted six days, but the disruptions made October seem like another beginning to the school year.

In recent years there has been declining enrollment in the Middletown School District. During the 1980-81 school year elementary were closed and boundary lines were changed. You will read of these effects on Lemon-Monroe in the remianing pages of the 1982 Monocle.

Want to learn more about the History of Lemon-Monroe High School? - Watch Video

SOURCE: This history was researched and written by Irene and Jim Orem and published in the 1981 yearbook

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