Artifact of the Month
Artifact of the Month: July 2022

High School Memories

While many students finished their education after elementary school, some early Ketchikan families sent their children south for a high school education due to the lack of facilities and programs. At the original Main School downtown, the first four-year high school program was offered in 1915 and accredited courses were given the following academic year. With the opening of the Ketchikan Pulp Mill in 1954, the town grew exponentially. Housing expanded to serve not only single male mill workers but also families. With more families came the need for more classrooms. The second Main School transitioned to serve only elementary students after Ketchikan High School was completed on Fourth and Madison. Architects designed the building for up to 750 students to accommodate future growth. Shortly after opening in 1955, the previous polar bear mascot was replaced by the current king salmon.

Kayhi, the annual for Ketchikan High School and the school's nickname, was first published by students in 1921. Since then, annual yearbooks have been consistently printed minus a few gaps during World War II. In the 1930s, the conventional paper-bound edition was replaced by the "memory book," which consisted of loose leaf pages held together by string. This flexible format allowed for multiple years to be put together in one bound volume and came with optional blank pages that could be customized with signatures or photographs. In 1960, the yearbook was renamed Williwaw after a meteorological term for a sudden violent wind. As the student body grew so did the yearbook. Slender spiral bound books were replaced by thick leather albums and eventually modern yearbooks were professionally printed with glossy hard covers. By the 1990s, yearbooks were printed in full color.

For Ketchikan High School alumni, Independence Day is synonymous with reunions. Locally, reunions originated with the class of 1936, who held gatherings in Seattle before moving them here to coincide with the holiday. Reunions are a great time to pull out the yearbook and reminisce! The Ketchikan Public Library, in partnership with the Ketchikan High School, digitized yearbooks from 1950 to 2020.

Links to these editions are available on the Ketchikan Museums' website.

Photo caption: Logo from the 1987 Williwaw
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KHC logo from front cover of 1987 yearbookKHC logo from front cover of 1987 yearbook