An Historical Overview by Michael Moynahan
As early as 1852 there were over 250 children in Shasta County between the ages of 4 and 18 and none of them were attending school. Although a small semi-private school (the State paid $1,000 towards its operation and $390.00 for the teacher’s salary) was established in 1853 with 40 students, the first public school was established in 1854 in the town of Shasta.
It became clear by 1899 that a secondary school would be needed and Shasta County High School (later it became Shasta High School) was established in Redding. It was located at the corner of Sacramento and West Streets and was in the residence of Judge Bell. The school had 70 students, ranging in age from 15 to 26 years, and 3 teachers.
The curriculum was college preparatory but there was a vocational track in which bookkeeping and shorthand were taught. In 1900, boys’ baseball was started as well as the girls’ basketball team. Nine students graduated in 1903. Of the 26 freshman that enrolled in 1906, only 7 graduated 4 years later, causing a dropout rate of 73%! Today the dropout rate at Shasta High is about 1.5%. Also, in 1906 only 1/10th of students that graduated from grammar school went on to high school.
In 1903, a new school was built and occupied for the 1904-1905 school year. This was a two-story brick building with a basement and was located at the corner of West and Placer Streets. The school opened with 153 students and 7 teachers. This school was known as Shasta County High School until 1915, when a Countywide election was held and the Shasta Union High School District was created and the school became known as Shasta High School. During WW I every boy in the school was enrolled in the Cadet Company and was under the direction of Principal J. O. Osborne, a Major in the National Guard. The boys would drill and march up and down West Street with Principal Osborne calling cadence.
Some other interesting facts about these early days:
- Football began in 1922 and Shasta lost its first game, 34-0 to Chico High School
- The Vice-Principal in 1901 was Verne A. McGeorge, who later went on to found the McGeorge School of Law
- Benjamin Macomber was the Principal in 1905, and went on to become the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
By 1926, the enrollment was up to 450 and had a staff of 21 teachers. There was a need for a new school, as the old Shasta High was built for 250 students. In March of 1926, the citizens passed a $375,000 bond to build a new high school. A site was chosen at the corner of Magnolia and Eureka. The Shasta High School District was criticized by many because the site was so far “out of town”.
Students moved into the new school in October of 1927, and the old school became the property of Shasta County. The new school sat on 36 acres and, after the initial landscaping around the buildings, the Principal was instructed to have the remaining land ”planted to grain”.
In 1950, Shasta Junior College was built on land west of the Shasta High School and remained there until a new college was built at a site east of Redding in 1967– the present location of Shasta College. In 1967, Shasta High moved into the vacated Shasta College facilities and the old Shasta High site became Nova High. This school housed all of the District’s 9th grade students. After 9th grade, the students moved on to Shasta High, Central Valley High (built in 1955) or Enterprise High (built in 1955) for grades 10-12.
In 1991, Nova High was closed and the 9th grade students were moved back to the other high schools, which then consisted of grades 9-12 instead of grades 10-12 that they had housed since 1967. In 1991 a new high school, Foothill High School, serving the students in northeast Redding, Palo Cedro, Bella Vista and to the eastern borders of the District was established at the old Nova High campus. This was to be temporary until the District completed a new high school for these students.
In 1999, the new Foothill High School was completed and students moved from the site on Eureka Way to Palo Cedro. The Eureka Way site became the Shasta Learning Center that today houses a variety of District programs and schools.
In 2001 the District office was moved from its downtown location to the Shasta Learning Center. Remodeling of the Learning Center began and included complete window replacements with energy efficient windows, replacement of the roofing (with tiles made by the company that supplied original roofing tiles), installation of heating and air conditioning systems, exterior painting and complete remodeling of the auditorium interior.
In the 2004-05 school year the final phase of the renovation of the Learning Center was completed which included finishing touches in the classrooms.