The North Bend Eagle


Trophy collection recalls days of MBHS Cardinals

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/15/17

When Matt Musiel wants to give his track and field athletes at Lincoln Northstar a dose of history, he brings out a few antique items.

There’s the old leather track spikes (that were used well before Musiel’s time, thanks for asking), the wooden dumbbell set and a few trophies from his hometown high school in Morse Bluff.

Morse Bluff High School trophies
The Morse Bluff High School trophies were won between 1932 and 1940.

Wait a sec, before we go any further, let’s review a key piece of information: Morse Bluff used to have a high school.

Morse Bluff school district 14 opened in 1869. In 1900 grades nine and 10 were added, and in 1902 Morse Bluff High School produced its first graduating class of Carrie Killian, Ray Killian, Mary Vopalensky and Roy Widener.

Morse Bluff High never went any further than 10th grade, which was not uncommon among schools in the smallest towns of that day. Students who wanted to finish their final two years did so at four-year high schools in surrounding towns, usually Linwood or North Bend. Many students, especially in the early days, simply concluded their formal education after their sophomore year at Morse Bluff.

Morse Bluff High folded in 1952 after the school board voted to drop the ninth and 10th grade programs. The final graduating class that spring consisted of Marvin Hines, Keith Racek and Mary Ann Feala.

When the high school opened in 1900, District 14 was a two-story frame building. A two-story brick school was built immediately east of the wooden schoolhouse, and it became the new home of District 14 in 1924. That brick schoolhouse still stands in the southeast corner of town, now a private residence.

When Marvin Hines attended MBHS in the early ‘50s, the high school was in the big room in the southwest corner of the second floor. There was just one teacher to teach the ninth and tenth grades, which amounted to eight or nine pupils when Hines was a sophomore. Most of the time, the freshmen and sophomores were taught the same curriculum, Hines said. The next year a different curriculum was taught before the cycle repeated for the next group of students.

School ran from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4. If you lived in town, you went home for lunch. Hines, who rode his bicycle the 2.5 miles to school, ate a sack lunch with the other country kids. There was an all-school Christmas program and a play put on by the high school, Hines said, but there were no school dances and no yearbook.

According to the alumni list in the 1987 Morse Bluff centennial history book, the Class of 1932 was Morse Bluff High’s largest at 12 students.

Low numbers and the increasing state regulations made it tougher to maintain high school classes in Morse Bluff, Hines said. By this time, many families were opting to pull their children from Morse Bluff after eighth grade and send them to nearby four-year high schools right away as freshmen.

Otto Hines and Raymond Racek, the fathers of Marvin and Keith, were on the school board at the time. When the board met to discuss the fate of the high school, Hines went over to Racek’s house to await word.

Word came back that the meeting went well. Morse Bluff was closing its high school.


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