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A Brief History of the Men Who Built NHS

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A Brief History of the Men Who Built NHS

The school district has a long-standing history of working with local entrepreneurs.

The school district has a long-standing history of working with local entrepreneurs.

The school district has a long-standing history of working with local entrepreneurs.

The school district has a long-standing history of working with local entrepreneurs.

Evan Miracle, Student of Journalism

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As a referendum looms, the history of the Neenah Joint School District requires introspection.

Unbeknownst to many students and staff in Neenah, their school buildings have an interesting century-long history to tell through the influential men for whom they are named.

The school district has a long-standing history of working with local entrepreneurs. Since its inception, local business moguls have been financing the development of school buildings and adopting their names to commemorate this bond between economy and education in Neenah.

The first high school in Neenah was one such building. In 1907, Kimberly High School was built, taking its name from John Kimberly: one of the founders of Kimberly-Clark. He had financed the construction of the school in 1907, and it would act as the city’s high school for the next 22 years.

By 1929, a second high school was built. This project was spearheaded by Sidney Frank Shattuck, son of another Kimberly-Clark founder, Frank C. Shattuck. S.F. Shattuck worked as the Vice President of Industrial Relations for K-C, helping to pioneer employee benefit programs. He also organized the National Safety Council to improve workplace safety across the papermaking industry.

What was once Kimberly High School was now Kimberly Junior High School, consisting of 7th and 8th-grade students. In 1961, it was replaced by Horace Mann Middle School, and the building was made the main office of the entire school district. It received renovations in the transition process; what were once classrooms were now offices and meeting rooms. The building’s role of school district headquarters has lasted ever since.

In the midsts of the Cold War, the U.S. government was making huge pushes for greater education, notably in math and science. The idea was to train a new generation of astrophysicists and engineers to help combat the Soviet Union in the Space Race. Neenah was given funding to build two new school buildings and in the mid-1960s, a new middle and high school were built. The middle school took its name from the former Harvard University President and integral chemist in the Manhattan Project, James B. Conant. The new high school was named for Neil Armstrong, as the school mascot was a Rocket. Shattuck had also received two additional wings and was made another middle school.

The Conant Buildings role as a middle school was not long lasting, as by the early ’80s the building was absorbed into the high school. The two buildings were simply dubbed Neenah High School.

Even though the buildings were now all one school, it would not be until 1996 that they were finally conjoined. Until then, Conant housed mostly underclassmen, with Armstrong holding the upperclassmen. In 1996, the then principal, Larry Lewis, advocated for the construction of a linking building. Though it never received an official title like most other educational buildings in Neenah, it has adopted the unofficial moniker, The Link.

“It wasn’t an official name; it just caught on over time,” said Mr. Ben Christian. In addition to being a social studies teacher at NHS, he was a student when there were two separate buildings and sits on the board of directors for the Neenah Historical Society.

Since then, little change occurred in the buildings of N.J.S.D. in the last 22 years. Classes have gone by, teachers have been hired and retired, and education as a whole has greatly changed. Though there is always talk of some sort of expansion or remodel to the aging schools in Neenah, it is currently unknown what the future of the district. Regardless of what happens, it is always important to recognize from where where Neenah came, and the individuals who helped shape what it is today.

For more information on the history of the whole city, check out If Neenah Walls Could Talk, a website made and operated by AP U.S. History students.

Point of Interest for history buffs:  Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com), memorial page for S Frank Shattuck (28 Apr 1878–4 Mar 1976), Find A Grave Memorial no. 135084965, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Neenah, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by ArmstrongHistory (contributor 48059175) . accessed Nov. 12, 2018).

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “A Brief History of the Men Who Built NHS”

  1. Izze Murphy on November 19th, 2018 12:51 PM

    This was a good article because it’s very cool to learn about the high school’s history.

  2. Lauren Sturgell on November 19th, 2018 12:57 PM

    I find it interesting that Conant used to be a middle school. There must have been a lot fewer students back then if all of the students of Neenah High School could fit into Armstrong.

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A Brief History of the Men Who Built NHS