Columbiana Schools Tradition
(Compiled by Ray Hum, Class of '18; updated by Ada Wilhelm, Class of '37 updated by Sean Kapp, Class of 2002)
The first attempt at schooling was in 1813, at which time a Reformed minister by the name of Mahnenschmidt, residing in Old Springfield, came here and held catechetical exercises in the Village Tavern (later the Park Hotel). Then, on August 13, 1814, the School and Meeting House of Columbiana was organized. A building was erected forthwith of ash and poplar logs, chinks filled with clay, on the site where the Grace United Church of Christ now stands. The understanding was that it was to be used both for a school and religious purposes. Here, for seven years, the youth of the Village secured their education.
Since there were no funds, the Society gave the School Master the privilege of charging a dollar and a half a pupil for three months' education and the further privilege of being freely boarded in the cabins of the neighborhood in rotation.
The Reformed and Lutheran congregations, who had worshiped in the log cabin, prospered and in a few years had money enough to build a Union Church solidly of brick. They tore down the log house and, for the next ten years, there was no schooling available, except that furnished by young men of ability and education who sometimes volunteered as teachers.
In 1832, a compulsory education law was enacted, providing for the raising of school funds by direct taxation. As a result, a frame structure was erected on Elm Street. Then, in 1846, this school was replaced by a one-story brick building with two rooms. By 1860, this building became too small. One faction wanted a new school, but another bitterly opposed it. A discussion began which might never have ended had not a fire of suspicious unknown origin wiped out the school. This settled the question.
District Number Two had been organized as a special district, with a Board of Education; they bought a plot on the Northwest Corner of Pittsburgh Street and Elm Street, and, in 1861, began the building of a pretentious brick school. This school, because of the Civil War, took four years to be built. The big brick building opened in the fall of 1864 with George Luckey as head master, or principal. The term High School began about this time to designate the pupils who somehow or other rose to the second floor and were classified there somewhat by the text books with which they were supplied.
Again in 1873, the school was overcrowded and a new school was built on South Vine Street. The separated schools created problems, and in 1883 the Vine Street school was sold and an addition built to the Elm-Pittsburgh Street School.
In the year 1881 came the first graduation at which time Charles Esterly and Estella Jamison graduated. Forty-six persons graduated from then until 1887, among them Harvey Firestone, with no graduates in 1882 and 1884.
The 1864 building was condemned and the present structure facing Pittsburgh Street was erected in 1909. An addition, including an auditorium and gymnasium, was accomplished in 1923.
In 1923 the gymnasium was converted to an auditorium and a new modern fieldhouse was added in the 50's. A cafeteria was initiated and a kindergarten started in the 40's. Still, the schools were crowded, and Joshua Dixon Elementary School was built in 1955. In 1962 South Side Middle School was built. The original building now housed only the high school. An addition to Joshua Dixon was added and a wing to South Side in 1969. Several additions and remodeling kept the high school up-to-date.
In 1998 the School Board granted final permissions to begin the construction for the new Columbiana High School, which was constructed beside South Side Middle School on 720 Columbiana Waterford Road. The new Columbiana High School opened in the fall of 2000 at 700 Columbiana Waterford Road.