A History of the First 34 Years of Antelope Valley College
Written by Roy A. Knapp, D.Ed. District Superintendent - Antelope Valley Joint Union High School and Junior College District, 1934-1960
- By Way of Introduction
- Chapter I: 1929-1930, The First Year of the Antelope Valley Junior College
- Chapter II: National, State and Local Conditions n 1929-1930
- Chapter III: The First Five Years of Antelope Valley Junior College
- Chapter IV: 1934-1941, A Period of Growth in Antelope Valley Junior College
- Chapter V: The World War II Years, 1941-1946
- Chapter VI: 1946-1950, The Four Years Between World War II and the Korean Conflict
- Chapter VII: The Three Years of the Korean Conflict, 1950-1953
- Chapter VIII: Growth, Football and Accreditation
- Chapter IX: Laying a New Foundation
- Chapter X: Preparation for a Junior College District
My grateful acknowledgement to Mrs. Josephine Dart Nicholson who was a member of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School teaching staff from 1921 to 1961, who was familiar with the beginning of the Antelope Valley College and most of its existence and who read this history of the college and suggested necessary corrections; to Mrs. Madeline Chapman and Miss Evelyn Foley who became members of the college faculty in 1946 and 1947 respectively, who always took a special interest in the development of the college, who were faculty members during the period of its most spectacular growth and who read the original copy of the manuscript for accuracy; to Mr. Paul Greenlee who has been connected with the school district longer than any other present college faculty member, who maintained a most positive and helpful spirit through some of the college’s darkest hours, and who helped in portions of this history by relating his recollections of certain events; to Dr. James Starr, president of Antelope Valley College, to Mr. Jennings Brown, director of student activities, and to the Board of Trustees of Antelope Valley College for their interest in this history and for their encouragement and help in having it completed.
By Way of Introduction
The Antelope Valley Junior College was only four years old when I came to the school district as a high school physics teacher in September 1933. It was only four months later when the Board of Trustees of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School and Junior College District requested me to become the superintendent of the high school and junior college district, business manager of the district and principal of the high school. From that time until my retirement in 1960 I was directly responsible for the college, its progress and its contribution to the junior college needs of Antelope Valley. The school district was large in area but sparse in population in 1934 and for several years afterwards. It spread over 3,476 square miles, bigger than the state of Rhode Island. It had one of the world’s largest school transportation systems. From a very small department of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, the Antelope Valley College has grown into the institution it is today, well known and respected not only in California, but in the nation as a whole.
In relating the events that took place in the growth of the college, it is impossible to include everything or to give credit to all who contributed to its growth. I have drawn heavily upon my memory but I have tried to verify all facts. I have written of the events that I felt would be of interest to those in future years might want to know something of the beginnings of the college. I have not included research material that relates to the growth of the junior college movement. I felt that such material was more adequately presented in the professional college literature than could be incorporated in such a history as I have tried to write.
The trials, tribulations and successes of the Antelope Valley College in its beginning and throughout its growth parallels great movements in world history and in changes in educational needs. Such events should be considered in reading this history of the Antelope Valley College.
Roy A. Knapp
Chapter I: 1929-1930, The First Year of the Antelope Valley Junior College
The Antelope Valley Junior College began the first semester of its first year on September 10, 1929. In the Antelope Valley Ledger-Gazette of the same date appeared a brief statement announcing the opening of the junior college. The statement was as follows:
A Junior College course will be opened in connection with the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School. It will offer two years of accredited collegiate work. Claude N. Settles has been appointed Dean.
This was apparently all that was said in the press about the birth of the new educational institution. The Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District did print a bulletin, dated September 1, 1929, which contained the names of the junior college faculty members, the calendar for the first school year, and an explanation of the college courses to be offered. Evidently the opening of the new junior college attracted little attention from the public and was considered relatively unimportant by most of the high school graduates living in Antelope Valley at the time.
One report states that 20 students enrolled in the new junior college at the opening of the first school year, although 56 students had graduated from the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School in June 1929. The junior college average daily attendance during its first school year was only 13. Another report indicates that 11 of the beginning students completed the first year and that 12 additional ones spent part of the year in the new junior college. There were no graduates in June 1930.
In the first Antelope Valley Junior College Bulletin, dated September 1, 1929, a faculty of 12 is listed as follows:
|Lois M. Bennink||Principal|
|Claude N. Settles||Dean, Orientation, English, Public Speaking|
|Fred T. Anderson||Mathematics and Chemistry|
|George Wm. Bishop||Physical Education and Hygiene|
|Ray M. Cunningham||Mechanical Drawing|
|Marion B. Durfee||Psychology|
|Mrs. Shirley Eyler||Art|
|Mary C. Measor||Spanish|
|Lucie Morris||Stenography and Typing|
|Mildred F. Pitt||Physical Education and Hygiene|
|Mrs. Agnes M. Rowell||English|
|George W. Zincke||Commerce and German|
Actually there were only 25 instructors on the entire high school and junior college faculty, including the principal, Miss Lois M. Bennink. It is evident that the junior college faculty spent only a small portion of its time teaching in junior college. For example, Mrs. Agnes M. Rowell is listed as a junior college English teacher. Actually Mrs. Rowell taught only one class of junior college English. She also taught two periods of high school algebra, one period of 12th grade English, one period of Latin II, and took charge of a high school study hall. Mrs. Rowell was also senior class adviser and sponsor of the high school Latin Club. Other junior college teachers likewise spent more of their school day teaching in the high school than they did in the junior college.
The times were favorable for the establishment of a junior college in Antelope Valley in 1929, and the California School Laws made it easy to establish such a college at that time.
Even though conditions were favorable, individual leadership was necessary to take advantage of the favorable conditions. Who furnished that leadership has been difficult to pinpoint.
Mr. Maurice H. Rowell was principal of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School from the spring of 1924 until his untimely death in November 1928. Mr. Paul Hubbard, editor of the Antelope Valley Ledger-Gazette, during the later years of Mr. Rowell’s administration of the high school, stated in a telephone conversation with the writer that he felt sure from his conferences with Mr. Rowell that it was he who envisioned the junior college. It may well be assumed that as early as 1928, Mr. Rowell had laid some groundwork for establishing a junior college in connection with the high school over which he was the school administrator. However, there seem to be no records either to verify or deny that assumption, other than the recollection of Mr. Paul Hubbard, who at the time of this writing still lives in Lancaster.
Following the death of Mr. Rowell in November 1928, the Board of Trustees appointed Miss Lois M. Bennink to the principalship formerly held by Mr. Rowell. Miss Bennink had been vice principal under Mr. Rowell and was well qualified to assume the new responsibilities assigned to her. She served as principal of the high school and chief administrative officer of the school district until the end of the school year 1930-31, when she resigned to accept a position as dean of girls at the Santa Barbara State Teachers’ College in Santa Barbara, California.
A letter dated October 7, 1963, to Dr. Roy A. Knapp from Mrs. Peter E. Sharpless (formerly Miss Lois M. Bennink) throws further light upon the ideas and work involved in the beginnings of the Antelope Valley Junior College. Mrs. Sharpless’s letter is duplicated below:
My dear Dr. Knapp:
A letter just received from Mildred Pitt informs me that you are inquiring about the formation of Antelope Valley Junior College. I fear she gave me more credit that I deserve, for it was the Board’s idea to include a college program on the campus. As I remember, the Board was wholeheartedly behind the idea; but I believe Dr. Savage should be given most credit. You may remember he had four children nearing college age, and he was anxious that they and all other interested students in the Valley might have the opportunity to complete at least two years of college.
It was then my job to “get going” on the project. Mr. Robert Clinton, our Business Manager, and I visited several junior colleges and from then on, Board, faculty and staff worked together to get it established.
With best wishes for your success in gathering needed information, I am
Lois B. Sharpless
Members of the Board of Trustees during the school year 1929-1930 were:
|George G. Hill, President||(Roosevelt area)|
|Dr. S.H. Savage, M.D., Clerk||(Lancaster area)|
|William J. McAdam||(Palmdale area)|
|Grant Shockley||(Rosamond area)|
|Joe Maxwell||(Lake Hughes area)|
The writer talked by telephone with Grant Shockley in October 1963. Mr. Shockley is the only member of the 1929-1930 Board of Trustees who is still living. His home is in Orange, California. According to his recollection, Dr. Savage was the trustee who pushed for action in establishing a junior college. Mr. Shockley stated that the whole Board of Trustees was in agreement with Dr. Savage, chiefly because certain legislation would soon go into effect that would make it impossible for the school district to establish a junior college in the foreseeable future if it should wait later than 1929 to act.
Mr. Robert H. Clinton, business manager of the school district at the time the Antelope Valley Junior College was established, was formerly a member of the school Board of Trustees. At present he resides at Corona Del Mar, California. In November 1963, he called at the home of the writer, and gave his recollections of how the new college happened to be started in September 1929. Mr. Clinton said that while Mr. Rowell probably envisioned a college, the idea really was activated by Dr. Savage and approved by the entire Board of Trustees. He agreed with the letter from Mrs. Sharpless that upon the request of the Trustees, he and Mrs. Sharpless (then Miss Bennink) visited other junior colleges and set up the machinery for the opening of the college. Mr. Clinton also verified the belief that it was a case of starting the college in September 1929 or of being denied that right in the foreseeable future.
The Antelope Valley Joint Union High School annual, the “Yucca”, for the school year 1929-1930 devoted less than a page to the Antelope Valley Junior College. The following is a copy of what appeared in the 1929-1930 “Yucca”:
THE JUNIOR COLLEGE
(“Would you listen to their boasting”)
|Social Chairman||Pearl Nixon|
One more step toward Antelope Valley’s steady progress has been the addition of a junior college with an enrollment of 20 students. Mr. Settles is dean of the college and is assisted by Mr. Zincke, Mrs. Rowell and Mr. Anderson of the teaching staff. During the year the chief events have been a snow trip in January and a party in April. For the fair program Edith Juday, Hazel Kitchen and “Weenie” Holmes presented “Rosalie.” Henry Savage represented Antelope Valley Junior College at the Modesto convention January 12, 1930. Byron Chase and Pearl Nicholson had planned the trip but were literally snowed in by weather which made even the approach to the Ridge impossible. Byron Chase and Edith Juday represented the college at a convention at Compton in April.
Students who attended the entire first year were:
|Hazel Kitchen||Charlotte Huntington|
|Edith Juday||Byron Chase|
|Pearl Nicholson||Henry Savage|
|Dorothy Guenther||John Whitmore|
|Astrid Olsson||Fred Kercher|
Students who spent part of the first year in the Junior College were:
|Pauline Brockett||Jasper Kidd|
|Joe Campbell||Arthur Leiva|
|Clarence Corse||Clara Reese|
|Malcolm Freeman||Joseph Weisshaar|
|Della Gookins||Glenn Rector|
|William Homes||Mildred Olson|
The same issue of the “Yucca” gives an account of the first dean of the junior college and lists his duties:
CLAUDE N. SETTLES – “Who shall guide you and shall teach you”
A.B., M.A. University of Colorado, Wabash College.
Junior College Dean
Boys’ Self Government
It would appear that Mr. Settles, with so many various duties, must have found it difficult to devote as much time to the junior college in its opening year as was needed, or as he must have wished. Possibly that is one reason why he remained with the school district only one year although he was requested to remain longer.
Chapter II: National, State and Local Conditions in 1929-1930
The Antelope Valley Junior College was conceived and born in the closing days of the “Roaring 1920s.” In his campaign for president in 1928, Herbert Hoover said in one of his speeches, “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.” Herbert Hoover was elected President and was inaugurated March 4, 1929, six months prior to the opening date of the Antelope Valley Junior College on September 10, 1929.
The United States had enjoyed about seven years of “Good Times.” The Hoover presidential campaign and his statements and actions during his first six months as President seemed to assure confidence in continued prosperity. The 1920s were called by some “The Jazz Age.” It was a period of reaction to the idealism of World War I years. It was a period of dance marathon contests, flagpole sitting, and raccoon-coated college men.
By 1927, the Model “T” Ford had been replaced by the Model “A” Ford. The talkies were replacing the silent film. Lindberg made his famous flight from New York to France in that year. The businessman was an object of worship. The masses had visions of becoming materially successful. By 1929, construction had begun on the Empire State Building in New York City. This tallest skyscraper in the world was completed in 1931.
In 1934, Miss Lucie Morris completed a thesis entitled, “The History of the Town of Lancaster, Center of Antelope Valley”. Copies of this thesis may be obtained either from the Antelope Valley High School library or the Lancaster library. This thesis presents an excellent historic background of Lancaster and Antelope Valley. Pages 38 to 52 of this publication contain much information about the years from 1925 to 1930 and thus outline the conditions in Lancaster and Antelope Valley just prior to the time the Antelope Valley Junior College began in September 1929.
A few excerpts from Miss Morris’s publication will throw light, not only upon Lancaster at that time, but also upon this publication which should be read completely by anyone interested in the history of Lancaster.
“Big changes took place in Antelope Valley from 1915 to 1925. During the years of World War I, the farmers prospered by getting big prices for their produce. This flow of wealth into the valley naturally helped the town of Lancaster … The Mint Canyon Highway was completed in 1921.” (page 38). “About fifteen homes were built in 1925, the same number in 1926, a few more in 1927, and forty in 1928. In the last half of this year and the early part of 1929 took place the biggest building boom Lancaster had seen.” (page 46). “The DuBois Shoe Shop opened in the fall of 1929, the first of its kind in this town. One year later, Ward’s Five and Ten opened its doors. This was another new type of store for this town.” (pages 46-47) “Ford Motors Company built a salesroom, garage and oil station on the northwest corner of Twelfth Street and Antelope Avenue (now Newgrove and Sierra Highway) and opened it for business June 15, 1929.” (page 47)
Miss Morris states further on pages 48 and 49 of her thesis that the number of people in Lancaster in 1920 was 400. In 1923, the population was 500. In 1930, the tabulated figures for Lancaster was 1,550. Between 1925 and 1930, ninety-five and one half miles of paved road were completed in the valley. Lancaster streets were paved during this period also. Beech Avenue was paved in 1927 and 1928. In 1930, Date Avenue was built. Miss Morris’s publication furnishes more information for the reader who wishes to know more about Lancaster and Antelope Valley at or about the time the Antelope Valley Junior College got its start.
During the 1920s, education began to be recognized as more necessary for success in the United States than it had been in former times. Between 1920 and 1930 the number of high school graduates in the United States more than doubled. By the mid ‘20s the average boy or girl was beginning to regard a college education as his right. Enrollment in institutions of higher learning almost doubled in this decade. Colleges and universities were beginning to foresee a problem in housing the increasing number of students who wished to enroll.
Far-sighted educational leaders such as Dean Alexis F. Lange, Director of the Department of Education, University of California, and President David Starr Jordan of Stanford University as early as 1907 were beginning to present arguments why the lower two years of college should be handled as secondary education, either as an extension of high school or as a separate two-year institution.
In an article in Sierra Educational News, November 1907, Dean Lange said, “The first step would be for the University to reduce its swollen fortune in freshmen and sophomores by actively promoting their distribution among federated colleges, normal schools, and six year high schools that are to be and will be... As for the University a number of its most vexing problems would pass out of existence.”
For a more detailed presentation of the historical development of California junior colleges, reference is made to the California Journal of Secondary, Education, November 1957 issue, pages 391 to 396. A bulletin of, The California State Department of Education, February 1958, also gives an account of junior college development in California. The Appendix of Jesse Parker Bogue’s book, The Community College, presents an excellent account of the influence of Dean Alexis F. Lange upon the development of the junior college.
Leaving complete details to the above-mentioned sources, the writer will refer only to certain changes in California School Law which affected junior colleges in general and Antelope Valley Junior College in particular. In 1907, the first legislation was passed which permitted high school districts in California to offer post high school education. In 1910, a two-year postgraduate course in connection with Fresno High School was established. The name “junior college” was used in connection with this first two-year postgraduate school. No provision for state support was included in the 1907 legislation. By 1916 there were 16 high schools offering post-graduate courses or “junior college” programs in California. They averaged 79 students per school. Insufficient financial support was a factor that handicapped the development of these early junior colleges.
In 1917, legislation was enacted which helped the junior college movement. In 1921, better financial support laws were passed, but a separate junior college district received more state aid than a junior college organized as part of a high school district. Between 1910 and 1930, junior college departments were organized in connection with 50 high schools in California. Of the 50 junior college departments organized between 1910 and 1930, only 19 survived in that form and were still in operation in 1930. The Antelope Valley Junior College was one of the surviving 19. Ten of the junior colleges which ceased to continue as junior college departments of high school had changed to district junior colleges, primarily because of the more favorable law for such institutions and because of the better financial support from the state.
Had the Antelope Valley Junior College not been established before 1930, it is probable that it might not have been established at all, or at least until many years later. Reactionary legislation was passed in 1929, raising the requirements for establishing junior colleges after July 1, 1930. This was true, whether the junior college was to be a district junior college or a department of the high school. One limiting factor of the new legislation was the raising of the amount of assessed wealth which a district must have before it could establish a junior college.
Less than a month after the opening of the Antelope Valley Junior College, a cartoon appeared in the New York World which showed a large bear running down Wall Street with an investor holding onto his tail in a helpless manner and with his investments flying from his pockets in all directions. Seven weeks after the opening date of the Antelope Valley Junior College came the famous “Black Tuesday,” when over 16,000,000 shares were sold on the New York Stock Exchange.
There were those who foresaw the weaknesses in America’s prosperity, but these few so-called “Prophets of Doom” were severely criticized for raising questions about the soundness of our economy. In Antelope Valley, tax delinquencies were mounting. Doubtless, the legislature of 1929 was influenced by a feeling of insecurity when it passed the reactionary legislation affecting junior colleges. All of these factors worked together to cause the Board of Trustees of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District to act and to establish the Antelope Valley Junior College before it was too late to do so. The college was truly started when the United States and the whole world were on the brink of entering the period now known as “The Great Depression.”
Chapter III: The First Five Years of Antelope Valley Junior College
Because the Antelope Valley Junior College was a department of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, conditions which affected the high school district also affected the junior college. The five years (1929-1930 to 1933-1934, inclusive) were years which reached the depths of the “Depression.” The Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District was in financial difficulty. State aid at that time was only $30.00 per unit of ADA (average daily attendance). With the exception of this small amount of state help, the school district was entirely dependent upon property taxes for the rest of its income. The Los Angeles County Assessor cut assessed valuations in the Los Angeles portion of the school district to give relief to the taxpayers. This cut represented a mandatory cut in school income because of the legal tax ceiling on school taxes. Even then tax delinquencies exceeded 40% during part of the five-year period. Expenses for operating the school district were exceeding income, and as a result the school district could not meet many of its bills. Teachers and other employees were paid with tax anticipation warrants which could rarely be cashed for full value. To obtain money upon which to live and meet expenses, employees were forced to find a buyer of the warrants. This necessitated selling them for a discount, which frequently was as high as 15%.
In June 1931, Miss Lois Bennink resigned as high school principal and chief administrator to accept a position as dean of girls at Santa Barbara State Teachers’ College. Dr. John R. Nichols, who had recently received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University, was selected to become the new chief administrator of the school district. He took over his duties during the summer of 1931, and remained in this position two and one-half years until he resigned in January 1934 to accept an offer to become executive dean of the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho. Dr. Nicholls term of office was a difficult one. The school district had no recourse to obtain more income. Many unpaid bills accumulated. He was defeated in his efforts to maintain teachers’ salaries. Not only was he well qualified to maintain a good school, but he was especially interested in junior college education. Any efforts which he made to improve standards of education called for more expense. The community reaction made it obligatory that expenses be cut, bills be paid, and taxes be kept within the legal limits.
Of the trustees who were in office when the junior college was formed in 1929, only Grant Shockley and J.O. Maxwell remained on the Board of Trustees as organized on May 1, 1932. In the meantime, Dr. Savage had resigned from the Board, and Harry E. Good, an Eastside rancher, had been appointed to fill the vacancy. The election for trustees in 1932 made an issue of the financial conditions of the high school district. Mr. J. W. Mays and Mr. W. T. Graham were elected to replace the incumbents in a landslide vote. Mr. Mays had been a long-time resident of Antelope Valley. He was an Eastside rancher, but he was also assistant to the Los Angeles County Assessor and, as such, was in charge of assessing property in Antelope Valley. Mr. W. T. Graham was also an Eastside rancher, but he spent the biggest portion of his time as manager of the Antelope Valley Hay Growers’ Association. He was widely known among the alfalfa ranchers in Antelope Valley, and was known by other businessmen for his splendid background of successful business experience. Both Mr. Mays and Mr. Graham were elected on an economy program. The public displayed its confidence in them to make the high school district solvent again without raising taxes.
The new Board of Trustees took action immediately. They adopted a program which would cut expenses and keep taxes at a minimum consistent with paying off the accumulated unpaid bills. They eliminated the position of business manager, assigning those duties to the chief school administrator, Dr. Nichols. They cut all salaries. Teachers’ salaries were cut 20%. The dormitories, which had been a unique feature of the school district and three classroom buildings on the campus were closed. All shop instruction was eliminated. Music instruction was cut to only one half day. Piano instruction was eliminated. All classes, both high school and junior college, were confined to two buildings.
The junior college was also affected by these cuts. With the exception of one small room adjoining the gymnasium, it was left with no special place to call its own. This one small room served as the office of the junior college dean and as a classroom for the full schedule of classes which he taught. Other junior college classes had to be held in high school classrooms when not needed by the high school. The junior college had no special study hall, but could use the high school library for that purpose. The one gymnasium of the school campus had to serve both boys and girls of both the high school and junior college. When not in a scheduled class, junior college students had no place to go except out onto the campus, into the halls, or into some vacant classroom if one could be found.
During the first five years of Antelope Valley Junior College, there was little increase in enrollment. The ADA, which was 13 the first year, increased to 22 in 1930-1931 and to 26 in 1931-1932. It then decreased to 21 and 22 respectively in 1932-1933 and 1933-1934. It is to the credit of the Board of Trustees and to Dr. Nichols that the junior college survived the cuts of 1932.
There were no junior college graduates the first year. In 1930-1931, there was only one graduate. The 1931 “Yucca” has the following to say about this first graduate:
This year we bid good-by to Byron Chase of Acton, congratulating him upon that perseverance which made him the first and only graduate of Antelope Valley Junior College. Byron has been president of his class during his entire freshman year, and during the first semester of this, his sophomore year. Throughout his college and high school days he has been an excellent student. He finished high school as a life member of the honor society with the class of 1929, when he was president of the society.
There were graduates in both 1932 and 1933 but the record is not clear as to how many or who they were. In June 1934, there were no graduates of the junior college. One year of foreign language was a requirement for junior college graduation, and French was the only foreign language offered in the college. Mrs. Gladys A. Loel, the French teacher, failed all of the students in her class, and thus no one was eligible for graduation in June 1934.
Mr. Claude Settles resigned as dean of the junior college at the end of the first year. To take his place, Mr. David J. Roach was chosen. Mr. Roach resigned after serving the junior college for two years. The position was then filled by Mr. John C. Snidecor, who remained for three years, until June 1935.
Dr. John R. Nichols, while sparing no efforts to improve standards of education in bath the high school and the junior college, must have felt that his efforts were futile. After the cuts made by the Board of Trustees in May 1932, many bills were not yet paid at the close of the school year. Regardless of teacher pressure and Dr. Nichols’ efforts, the Board of Trustees gave all teachers a second 20% cut in salaries, with the exception that no teacher could be cut to below an annual salary of $1,350.00, the state minimum. This made teachers’ salaries with a minimum of $1,350.00 and with a maximum of $1,593.00. However, the junior college was saved as an institution. In June 1933, the high school student body published a small memory book, instead of the usual annual called the “Yucca”. In his farewell message to the high school students in this book, Dr. Nichols said in part:
We hope to see many of you again as the years roll on. Some of you will decide to attend junior college here (if it still exists!).
In September of 1933, the writer (Roy A. Knapp) came to the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School as a physics and mathematics teacher. He had just completed two years of graduate study at Claremont College, Claremont, California. He had come to Claremont from Presho, South Dakota, where he had served several years as Superintendent of Schools. While at Claremont he collaborated with Dr. George W. Hunter in writing several science textbooks. Dr. Hunter and the writer of this Antelope Valley Junior College history, had a science textbook, which they had co-authored, published by the American Book Company. While teaching physics and mathematics in the Antelope Valley High School in the fall of 1933, the writer was preparing a physics textbook for the American Book Company.
In January 1934, when Dr. Nichols resigned, the Board of Trustees unanimously requested the writer to take over the administration of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. In addition to the high school in Lancaster and the Antelope Valley Junior College, there was another high school at Randsburg, California. The writer was asked to be principal of the high school in Lancaster, business manager of the district, as well as superintendent of the entire school district including both high schools and the junior college.
The writer was well aware of the school problems, the low morale of the teaching staff, the lack of discipline in both the high school and the junior college, the antagonism of the community toward the school, and the many accumulated bills which still remained unpaid. He decided that to meet the challenge meant more to him than to continue with his science textbook writing; thus he accepted the invitation, and assumed his new responsibilities in January 1934.
Upon the same day that the writer became principal of the high school, Mr. Ed Tucker was installed as president of the high school student body. The new student body president and his Board of Control met with the new principal and pledged their support toward helping solve student morale and high school discipline problems in general. The new principal asked the new student body president to address the first teachers’ meeting of the new administration. Much credit is due student leadership for many changes which took place for the better.
As far as the junior college was concerned, the dean, Mr. Snidecor, gave his full cooperation and outlined many of the junior college problems. Throughout the last semester of the school year 1933-1934, the new administrator received a series of complaints from high school teachers about the conduct of junior college students. A quartette of boys would sing under the windows of high school classrooms while classes were in session. Junior college boys would interfere with high school girls’ physical education activity. At times, severe disciplinary action had to be taken. However, the writer felt that he had fine support from the public, from the student body, and from most of the faculty. It should be said for the junior college students that they had no place to go on the campus between their classes, and therefore, they could hardly help causing disturbances. It was evident that fundamental changes had to be made if the junior college was to survive. Many of those changes could not be made immediately; careful planning for the following year between the junior college dean and the writer ensued. Many unpaid bills still were piled upon the desk of the business manager. The new administrator stayed at his desk until late at night and sometimes into the early morning hours. In the meantime, there is more fact than fiction to be found in the 1934 “Yucca” about the junior college. The following is taken from pages 36 and 37:
Among the things we’ll always remember, we’re quite positive will be the J. C. Study Hall. (part of high school library). It was our Rendezvous -- a place where lengthy arguments were held, hilarious anecdotes were told, where dates were made and broken -- and usually a place where people left when they wanted to study. ‘Twas here that Romeo and Juliet (Hoyt Wilson and Caryl Peterson to you) came from their southern balcony long enough to announce their engagement; where Tom Chandler always strove to show his scars of battle (or basketball); where Austin Whidden, Byron Meline, and Spud Morton delighted us with ballads, popular songs, and parodies; where Richard Rowell (our president) and Marjorie Johnson could be found talking in low tones; where Linnea Genrich (our vice president) tried to keep order (at times) and peace; where Bill McAdam and Bill Savage held forth with their spectacular “yarns” of college life at Salem, Oregon...
It was here also, that Ed Guill and Lee Burley dropped in for a few minutes between sets of tennis; Francis Smith showed his ingenuity by climbing through the broken transom into the room when he was locked out; where Betty Fulton came to giggle delightedly at the teasing she received; where Laddie Walters made frantic last minute efforts to plan parties for our benefit; where Frank Thompson came only when the problems of life got heavy and he needed frivolity; where Henry Six stayed when he decided it would be best to ditch class; where Clara Green discussed the problems of Life and Love with serious minded members of our group where Letha Burley tried for weeks to read Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”’ where Mary Jones ate immense amounts of candy meanwhile remarking how terrible it was for her complexion; where Mable Keefe came to gather news for the J. C. column in the “Sandpaper”; where Frank Moreno came only when there were no High School girls available for companions; and where Mrs. Rowell and Mr. Snidecor seldom came except to verify reports from other teachers concerning weird noises that issued from the room occasionally.
Chapter IV: 1934-1941, A Period of Growth in Antelope Valley Junior College
In the school year 1934-1935 the ADA (Average Daily Attendance) of the Antelope Valley Junior College was only 25, but gradually it increased each year up to 1940 1941 when the ADA was 100, Over the seven year period this was a 300% increase. During this period many of the traditions were begun which eventually resulted in further recognition of the college. The ADA of the high school also increased, but only about 52% or from 450 to 684 ADA.
The school year 1934-1935 began with the first full year’s administration of Superintendent Roy A. Knapp (the writer), and John C. Snidecor, dean of the junior college. During the latter part of the previous year they had surveyed the problems and begun to plot a course which should improve the college. They were still handicapped because in 1934-1935 the assessed wealth of the school was only $9,201,610 compared to an assessed wealth of $13,641,260 when the junior college was begun in 1929-1930. This was the low point of assessed wealth of the district and a loss of approximately 33 1/3%. To make matters worse, the enrollment had increased in both the high school and junior college. This caused the assessed wealth per unit of ADA which had been $38,500 in 1929-1930 to drop to only $18,000 per unit of ADA in 1934 1935. However, the writer and Dean Snidecor were able to convince the Board of Trustees that one of the unused buildings on the campus should be renovated for the junior college. Thus, the junior college began the school year 1934-1935 with facilities much better than ever before.
The section of the 1935 high school Annual, the “Yucca”, which was devoted to the junior college had the following to say on page 31:
The Antelope Valley Junior College has just completed one of its most successful years since its inauguration in 1929.
The year opened finding the junior college located in a building separated entirely from the Antelope Valley High School. This building houses the Dean’s office, a spacious study hall and two classrooms. This move proved favorable to all concerned.
A pass system was drawn up and an honor roll formed in conjunction with it. This honor roll set a “B” scholastic average as a standard for freedom from supervised study; the average being compiled three times during the year. Approximately 20% of the student body was included in this honor roll throughout the term.
This separate building and the new controls solved many of the college disciplinary problems which existed in former years. Under the capable and tactful leadership of Dean Snidecor, an improved morale was evident in the college and high school graduates began to look more favorably upon attending the college for at least one year.
During 1934-1935, the junior college sponsored a matinee performance in the high school Auditorium of the Pasadena Junior College “Bulldog Band,” the official band of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, and the college basketball team enjoyed a very successful season, in which they won most of their games.
Although finances were limited, changes were taking place which led to higher enrollment in each of the next six years.
During the spring months of 1934-1935 school year, Mr. Snidecor was offered a teaching position by Dr. John R. Nichols, executive dean of the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho. Dr. Nichols was the former Superintendent of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. Mr. Snidecor decided to accept the offer beginning in September 1935. He later received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Iowa and is now head of the Speech Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Mr. David J. Roach, who had been dean of the junior college in 1930-1931 and 1931-1932, resigned in June 1932 to obtain his doctorate at the University of Minnesota. It had been three years since he left and he was just back in Los Angeles when Mr. Snidecor resigned in June 1935. Mr. Roach was requested to return as dean of the Antelope Valley Junior College, which position he held until August 1946, a period of 11 years.
1935 and 1936 was the period in history when the United States Supreme Court invalidated President Roosevelt’s NRA (National Recovery Act) and not only gave his program for recovery a stunning setback but also put organized labor in a furious mood over the adverse decision. It was a time when lynchings in the South were in an upsurge. The death of Will Rogers was being universally mourned. The trial of Bruno Hauptman, kidnapper of the Lindberg baby, was holding the attention of the public. In 1935 the Academy Award for the outstanding film of the year was awarded to “”Mutiny on the Bounty.” President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act and Huey Long, powerful demagogue of Louisiana politics, was shot to death in the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The biggest news story of 1936 was the abdication of King Edward VIII because of his love for a divorced woman, Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson. “Gone With The Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell was one of the top-selling novels. The above events in history probably had no effect upon the Antelope Valley Junior College, but they do indicate a few of the news items which made headlines while the college was struggling with the first real period of growth and recognition. However, an event did happen in California which eased the financial burden off schools in general and the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District in particular. Prior to July 1, 1935, the assessed wealth of the public utilities in California was not used for school tax and other local tax purposes. The 1935 Legislature put the public utilities on the local tax rolls, thus increasing the assessed wealth of school districts materially, especially in a district with a great area like the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District, where railroads, power lines and telephone lines covered great distances.
Another event which also added to the assessed wealth of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District grew out of an act of the federal government, soon after President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated, whereby the government increased the price of gold. Prospecting for gold became almost a fever in the Kern County portion of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. Although there were many discoveries of gold, the largest one was at the Golden Queen mine near Mojave. The discovery of new mines added new assessed wealth. The Golden Queen mine alone added over $1 million in assessed wealth to the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District in one year. As a result of the increased assessed wealth from the gold mines and the public utilities, the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District increased from the $9,201,610 assessed wealth of 1934-1935 to $16,744,345 in the following school year. This was an increase of over 80% in assessed wealth in one year.
To prevent schools from increasing their budgets too lavishly with this new source of tax money, the Legislature imposed a 5% limitation on the school budget over the budget of the previous school year.
During the school year 1935-1936, Dean Roach continued the improvements started the year before. The junior college section of the 1936 “Yucca” refers to the cooperation and fine spirit among the college students. This publication says:
“Many of the past restrictions concerning study hall, passes and personal freedoms have been done away with. The student’s time and pleasures have depended entirely upon his actions and appreciation of special privileges. The college students are no longer fifth year high school students, but are truly college students. Not only are these students given freedom and responsibility of college life, but are required to do work also of college calibre.”
During 1935-1936, the college curriculum was expanded and plans were laid for additional opportunities the following year. Dean Roach, the junior college faculty and the superintendent worked cooperatively to make possible a greater interest in sports and social life. Parties, skating, “weenie” roasts, scavenger hunts and dancing were all sponsored by the junior college. It was during this school year that the first junior college football team was organized. They played only one game, but it was a start. New maroon and white uniforms were purchased for the junior college basketball team and they had one of their best seasons up to date.
1936-1937 was another year of growth, expanded activities, increased curriculum and more social life. Dean Roach and Superintendent Knapp had observed, however, that the majority of high school students did not plan during their high school days to attend Antelope Valley Junior College.
The writer started a program of five-year planning when students entered the ninth grade and through counselors and teachers changed the neutral attitude toward the junior college to one where high school students planned to attend at least one year of junior college. High school teachers were informed by the superintendent of the high calibre of academic work being done in the junior college and more publicity was presented to the general public. All of these efforts on the part of the school district administration eventually resulted in an increased percentage of the high school graduates attending the Antelope Valley Junior College.
Probably the most outstanding “first” of the school year 1936-1937 was the founding of the Tumbleweed. Prior to this time, the junior college would get some articles in the high school “Sandpaper”. Now, for the first time, the junior college had a publication of its own. Credit should be given to a group of college students who worked hard to produce the publication. Ethlyn Gorsline and Tom Barger were the co-editors. Elizabeth Standiford, now Mrs. Frederick G. Morton, was associate editor, and Homer Rowell was business manager. The first issue of the Tumbleweed was dated December 1936. It was a small six-inch by eight and one-half inch mimeographed publication. It was a literary publication rather than a news magazine. All literary selections were originals by college students. The first page of the first issue was entitled, “Editorially Speaking.” The following is a copy of that first page:
The staff of The Tumbleweed offers this, the first issue of the magazine, to the junior college and its friends with the feeling that although it is far from perfect it represents an idea that can grow to be a part of college tradition.
To Mr. Roach, Mr. Knapp, and Mrs. Rowell should go much credit for making this magazine possible. Without their advice and help there would have been no Tumbleweed.
Student cooperation is extremely necessary. Because there are so few students, everyone will be called upon to help. Short stories, poems, articles, and even comments on timely topics will go far toward making The Tumbleweed a magazine worth publishing.
With this issue of The Tumbleweed, a new publication is born. Previous to this date, the Antelope Valley Joint Union Junior College has considered itself too small in relationship to the high school, to have many activities of its own. The birth of The Tumbleweed is significant because it indicates the real change in spirit in the Junior College, a change from a spirit of merely putting in one or probably two years in the institution to a spirit of active interest and participation in real college life. From an Administrative standpoint, the change signified by the birth of this publication, is a change which is welcome and one which has long been needed. May The Tumbleweed have a long useful life, and may it stimulate the Junior College to use its ability more actively than has been its custom in the past.
Roy A. Knapp
The second issue of the Tumbleweed was dated January 1937 and it was edited by Ethlyn Gorsline, who remained the editor until her junior college graduation in June 1938.
1937 was the year of the Spanish Civil War, a time when American volunteers by the hundreds transported themselves to Spain where they joined the Anti Franco armies. May 12, 1937, saw the coronation of King George VI of England, which provided the event for the first worldwide radio broadcast heard in the United States. This was also the year that the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was dedicated.
The school year 1937-1938 did not seem to be affected by the unrest in Europe and the war in Spain. The enrollment in the Antelope Valley College jumped approximately 50%. Additional faculty was added to instruct new courses. Many clubs were active. Fifteen basketball games were played with nine being won by the local team. Donald McDonald was one of the players. After World War II he became coach of the Antelope Valley Junior College athletic teams for several years. This was the year that Masao Ekimoto graduated with highest honors as he had done two years before when he graduated from Antelope Valley High School. The following year he went to Tokyo, Japan, for his advance college work but before completing his studies he was caught in the war and was not permitted to return to the United States. He is now married, has a family, still lives in Tokyo and is head of an outstanding public relations firm. He is an uncle of Dennis Ekimoto, who was to become another outstanding academic student in the Antelope Valley High School during the years 1953-1954 to 1957-1958. Dennis was also an outstanding athlete both in high school and in Antelope Valley Junior College.
The June 1938 issue of the Tumbleweed was the first printed issue. It was a dream “come true,” to Ethlyn Gorsline and her staff. On page 11 of this issue we find the following:
In September 1936, two ex-”Sandpaper” Editors got lonesome for the hubbub and work of school publications and looked around for more work to do. They found what they were looking for when they hit upon the idea of a monthly magazine, and with both Mr. Roach and Mr. Knapp back of them they set about forming a staff and trying to plan the publication. They had hoped to have the literary efforts printed but they soon found that there would not be enough money. The old “Sandpaper” mimeograph and typewriter were pressed into use and the first Tumbleweed went to press. After that initial endeavor one of the editors left A.V. and the students voted the other into his place. Let us pass lightly over the remaining issues of that year and the next, pausing only to reminisce over such incidents as the time when they ran half of the pages upside down, the time the cover paper was cut one inch too short, and the cooperative plan that didn’t work as well as they expected. In September 1937, the staff hoped to have a printed magazine and sorrowed again when the answer came back, “no funds.” In May 1938 at last the dream those two editors envisioned two years ago is to be fulfilled. A printed magazine at last!
May 1938 saw the first junior college graduating exercise entirely separate from the high school. Prior to this time the junior college graduation was a relatively minor part of the high school commencement program.
The school year 1938-1939 witnessed another big jump in enrollment. The increase was 80% more than the previous year. Mr. Roach, Mr. Wooton and Mr. Finley were formed into a scholarship committee for the purpose of keeping academic standards high. College scholastic deficiency difficulties were discussed with the students by the committee. Suggestions were offered to the district administration for the improvement of the curriculum. The name of the committee was eventually changed by the students to the “Axe” committee. During this school year, the Tumbleweed was changed from a monthly magazine to a printed newspaper published twice monthly.
This year the camera group, the literary group, the “Wig and Beard” group and the a cappella choir were started. During this school year the junior college secured a chapter of Alpha Gamma Sigma. The maroon Marauders basketball team won the Desert League.
On September 1, 1939, German armies invaded Poland without declaration of war and on September 3, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Enrollment increased again at Antelope Valley Junior College but by only a small percentage. The world situation was beginning to affect the plans of college-age youth. On November 30, 1939, Russia invaded Finland. When school opened in September 1939, two improvements were completed. A new gymnasium was built to house the boys’ Physical Education Department. The old gymnasium, which had served both boys and girls in both high school and junior college, was now adapted to serve girls only, both high school and college women. The new gymnasium had a full-size basketball floor which was so designed that two practice basketball games might be played at once. This was a decided asset for the junior college.
During the school year, another new building was constructed especially for the increased number of college students. This building, still upon the high school campus, has been nicknamed the “Bomb Shelter.” This provided the junior college with two buildings and made it possible to provide a recreation room entirely separate from a study hall. A picture of the new building may be found on page 106 of the 1940 “Yucca”. The following is a quotation from the same page in this issue:
The Junior College
The Junior College students can be found either in their new study or their recreation hall. The Junior College consists of two buildings one which was built this year and contains the library and one classroom. There are three rooms in the old J.C. Building and the offices of Dean Roach and Mr. Wooton. One of these rooms is used as a Recreation Hall for the students who come on busses and haven’t any classes in the afternoon.
Some of the Junior College classes are held in some of the classrooms of the High School. They use the new gym for their athletics.
On January 1, 1940, at the Rose Bowl game, USC defeated Tennessee 14-0. The year before, USC had defeated Duke 7-3. In both of these games an alumnus of the Antelope Valley High School and later a flight training student in Antelope Valley College, Al Krueger, was a major factor in both of these wins for USC.
On December 6, 1940, a school bus was struck at 90th Street and Avenue “J.” Alverda McCaleb, a junior college student, was a passenger on this bus and was severely injured. Her brother, a high school student, was killed and two other brothers, also high school students escaped uninjured.
In 1940-1941 the war in Europe was giving signs of breaking out into a world conflict, yet it was still called a “phoney” war. Enrollment in the Antelope Valley College continued to increase, but thus ended a seven-year period of relatively rapid growth. In December 1941, the first semester of the next school year, one of the most tragic events in history took place, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Chapter V: The World War II Years, 1941-1946
The period of growth years between 1934 and 1941 came to an end with the school year 1940-1941. The possibility of the United States becoming involved in the war which was raging in Europe caused many boys to enter military service.
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The next day, the United States declared war on Japan and three days later was officially at war with Germany and Italy.
Enrollment at both high school and junior college levels of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School dropped, but the decrease in enrollment in the junior college was most critical.
1940-1941 the junior college ADA had reached 100. In 1941-1942, it dropped to 53. The enrollment continued to drop for the next three years. In 1942-1943 the ADA was 34, in 1943-1944 it was 14 and in 1944-1945 it was down to 13, the same ADA as the year in which the junior college was organized in 1929-1930. There was a slight turn upward in the enrollment in the school year 1945-1946. This was the year that the Hiroshima atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, and the unconditional surrender of Japan on August 14, 1945.
The end of the War in Europe came the prior May 7 when Germany surrendered unconditionally.
The years between September 1941 and June 1946 were not very exciting years in the Antelope Valley College. Pressures were brought upon the superintendent and the Board of Trustees to discontinue the college as an unneeded educational institution in Antelope Valley and for the purpose of saving tax dollars during the war effort. It took fortitude, understanding and much explanation on the part of the Board of Trustees and the superintendent to keep the college as a functioning educational institution.
The superintendent, a World War I veteran himself, remembered the increased demand for education following that world conflict. The Board of Trustees were sympathetic to his recommendation that the college be maintained and that a greater need for it would exist following the end of World War II.
Two other factors helped to keep the junior college from being closed. First, the superintendent pointed out to the community that if the junior college were terminated, that Los Angeles County would then place a junior college tax on the district which would probably be greater than the local tax rate necessary to maintain the college. Second, if the junior college were closed and the demand for a local junior college should occur again following the war’s end, it probably would be impossible in the immediate future to re-establish the college because of legal limitations which still existed. Thus, the college’s life was maintained ready for expansion when the need again existed.
During this period of time (5 years) while the future of the junior college was rather discouraging, other incidents happened.
In the January 8, 1942, issue of the Ledger Gazette appears the picture of Fred T. Anderson, the junior college chemistry teacher, and an account of his mysterious disappearance. From the time that war had been declared upon Japan, Germany and Italy, Mr. Anderson, a bachelor, had appeared worried. He had been a chemist in World War I and seemed to think that he should do something other than teach during the new world conflict. Little was seen of him during the two weeks of Christmas vacation. He was seen on Christmas morning when he drove out to the home of the president of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Grant Shockley. He was later seen in his yard on the afternoon of Christmas Day. Mr. Anderson did not report to school when it opened after the vacation period. Officers from the sheriff’s department opened his home. There were no signs of disturbance but he was not there. A chicken stew was on the stove but the heat had been shut off. His car was in the garage. A rather impossible will was found on the table. To the best of the writer’s knowledge, the mystery of Mr. Anderson’s disappearance has never been solved.
During the five-year period covered in this chapter, Mr. David J. Roach continued as dean of the college. In addition to fulfilling his responsibility with the college, Mr. Roach also headed the tire rationing board during the war years. The superintendent headed the Red Cross fund drive, always obtaining the support of the entire community to such an extent that the quota given Antelope Valley was met and exceeded. He also helped to organize the Antelope Valley Civilian Defense Council and was elected president of the Lancaster Kiwanis Club for the year 1941-1942.
The Angeles Forest Highway was opened in 1941 and the superintendent gave the chief address at the ribbon cutting exercises. These duties of a community and patriotic nature gave him ample opportunity to communicate to the public the need for a junior college in Antelope Valley. Mr. Albert LoBuono came to the school district in December 1941 just before Pearl Harbor. Later he served in the Red Cross for a time but after the war returned to the school district and later became Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Charge of Business for the high school and junior college. At present Mr. LoBuono is in the same position but for the high school district only, after the separation of the two districts.
1941 was also the year when Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools A. R. Clifton died, thus creating a vacancy which was later filled by Dr. C.C. Trillingham, who at this writing is still Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Trillingham was always vitally interested in Antelope Valley and was of material help in the growth and development of Antelope Valley Junior College.
Shortly after the declaration of war in 1941, 90% of the Antelope Valley Junior College students who remained in school were enrolled in first aid classes. Throughout the five-year period, junior college students often in cooperation with high school students worked upon war projects. The demand for men trained in physical education and mathematics became greater because of military demands. Special opportunities existed for junior college students to obtain a military commission on condition that they satisfactorily completed certain junior college courses in physics, mathematics and pre-flight aviation. At the same time, the supply of adequately trained teachers in these subjects was limited.
Mr. Allen K. Dallas, the high school and junior college physics teacher, resigned to enter military service. For a time it appeared that no one could be obtained to fill the vacancy. Finally the writer obtained a young man adequately trained who had been exempt from military service because he was a conscientious objector.
The schedule was arranged for both high school and junior college physics courses as well as pre-flight aviation courses in the junior college to meet the needs as they were laid out by the Federal Civil Aeronautical Authority in Washington, D.C. It took only a few weeks to learn that Mr. Harbour, the instructor, was unable to control the discipline in his classes. He refused to follow the curriculum. It became necessary to assign new duties to Mr. Harbour and for the superintendent to take over the teaching of the classes. To teach all day, handle administrative duties and carry out necessary community activities became too great a task. Mr. R. R. Maryott, a new teacher on the staff that year, was asked to take over all high school physics classes. The superintendent continued to teach the junior college classes in physics and pre-flight aviation for the rest of the year.
Of the faculty members of the Antelope Valley Junior College at this writing, the only one teaching in the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District in 1942 was Paul Greenlee. Mr. Greenlee came to the district in September 1942 to be a physical education instructor. He had been an outstanding basketball player for Occidental College. After graduation from college, he tried to enter the different branches of military service but each time was rejected because of the very factor which had contributed to making him an outstanding basketball player. His height exceeded 6’ 6”, thus eliminating him from military service. As long as he could not enter military service, Mr. Greenlee felt he could best help his country during the war in the field of physical education and physical fitness. Mr. Greenlee continued as a physical education instructor for three years or until the war was over. At that time he began his career in teaching art and in addition he was for ten years the faculty adviser for the high school annual, the “Yucca”. During these years in the district he not only showed great interest in the school but especially in the junior college. It was in 1955 that he became a full-time junior college instructor. In the 1947 “Yucca”, the following is said in reference to Mr. Greenlee:
Mr. Greenlee has introduced many new techniques and ideas which were included in the “Yucca.” The art layout was especially good because of the experience that Mr. Greenlee has had in this field.
As Advisor to the “Sandpaper” staff, Mr. Greenlee laid out a definite style of writing and succeeded in making the layout of the “Sandpaper” uniform.
1945 was an exciting year for the United States even though the Antelope Valley College was at its low point in enrollment. Americans crossed the Rhine on March 7, 1945. President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Hitler committed suicide less than twenty days later and Germany surrendered on May 7. In July, the first atomic bomb fused the earth at Alamogordo, New Mexico. In August, the Hiroshima bomb had been exploded and the war with Japan was over. In the book, “Days to Remember” by John Gunther and Bernard Quint on page 16, is stated the following:
On the home front, as 1945 merged into 1946, millions of GI’s sought readjustment and reincorporation into the life of their communities. Maybe that old job was waiting for them, and maybe not. Maybe that old girl was waiting for them, or maybe they had forgotten that old girl. Some veterans cracked up, filled the hospitals, and foreshadowed grave problems in public health. Some got married, lifted the birthrate to unprecedented levels, complained at prices, and otherwise had fun, if they were not too disoriented. A prevailing keynote was thirst for education. The GI Bill of Rights opened university doors on a scale never known to the annals of the nation. As an example 11,700 new students entered Harvard in 1946, three quarters of them veterans. Schools were jammed.
Needless to say the Antelope Valley College would justify its existence once more because of the influx of students. It was anticipated that David J. Roach would continue as dean and instructor at the Antelope Valley College in September 1946. By virtue of his long and valuable experience in the college, he was well equipped to bring about the adjustments in the college for the growth which was expected. However, at a late date in August he announced his intention to enter business and he resigned, thus ending 11 years of association with the junior college. Mr. Roach was probably the man best informed about Antelope Valley College to carry on. The 1946 “Yucca” refers to Mr. Roach as follows:
Mr. Roach is the affable, dark gentleman that you see commuting between the J.C. Library and the main office. He is the Dean of the Junior college. On his shoulders fall the duties of suggesting and arranging study programs for J.C.’s. He administers tests for intelligence and occupational interests to the J.C.’s and high school students. He oversees the J.C. teachers and besides all these many and varied duties he teaches Applied Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Sociology.
Many High School students and Junior College students owe their choice of the right occupation or profession to his wise guidance.
Thus ended the five most difficult years of the college.
Chapter VI: 1946-1950, The Four Years Between World War II and the Korean Conflict
World War II was over. The GI Bill of Rights was in effect. Higher education was in demand more than ever before. Veterans wanted to make up for the war years which had delayed their education.
The Antelope Valley Junior College experienced the largest enrollment in its previous history in September 1946, over 400% more than September 1945. At the end of the school year 1946-1947, the ADA for the year was 115. The year before the ADA had been only 26.
Previous to September 1946, the dean of the junior college had devoted only a part of his time to his junior college administrative responsibilities. The remaining time was devoted either to teaching junior college classes or to the duties of the vice principal in the high school office. The dean of the past eleven years, Mr. David J. Roach, resigned his position in August 1946. With the large influx of veterans and with limited classroom space for college classes, it was necessary to obtain a capable replacement for Mr. Roach and to let him devote full time to junior college administrative problems.
The district superintendent had heard indirectly of a young man in Fort Scott, Kansas, who appeared to be a likely candidate. He proceeded to get in touch with him by telephone. The first conversation sounded favorable; his references were excellent, and with the approval of the Board of Trustees, the superintendent arranged for Mr. Walter Dingus to come to Antelope Valley and assume the deanship of the Antelope Valley Junior College on September 1.
At the end of 1946-1947, the junior college section of the “Yucca” said of Mr. Dingus:
Walter Dingus, after only a year with A.V., has already established himself as a capable dean and teacher for the J.C. and as a good friend to the students. Mr. Dingus came to the valley with an excellent record and a good background for the deanship, having graduated from a J.C. himself and then continuing on to Ottawa and Kansas universities. During the war he was commissioned and served in the Navy, returning to the deanship of Fort Scott J.C. in Kansas. This year as dean of A.V.J.C. he has instituted student government, worked with the Veterans Administration to insure all their rights, and worked for a larger selection of courses. His interest has resulted in many improvements, thus giving the valley a better junior college than it has ever before had and making a place for himself in the lives of every junior college student.
Mr. Dingus proved to be a fortunate find, not only for Antelope Valley Junior College, but for Antelope Valley High School and later for the San Marino Unified School District in San Marino, California, where he is now superintendent of schools.
Dave Batz was elected junior college student body president for the first semester of the 1946-1947 school year. In his term in office he predicted:
Our plans for a bigger and better junior college are materializing. I feel that if in the future, as in the past, the two student bodies continue to work together it will help to improve both the junior college and the high school.
Keith Hayden was junior college student body president for the second semester and he also expressed the enthusiasm and spirit of the college in 1946-1947 by saying:
We now have the opportunity to change our potentialities into realities. Let’s not falter.
This was the year that Mr. Gus Eliopulos became a member of the Board of Trustees of the school district. Mr. Eliopulos replaced Mr. Joe Maxwell, who had resigned because of ill health. Mr. Eliopulos, a Westside rancher, was a former Antelope Valley junior college student. He continued to serve on the Board of Trustees for the remaining years that the junior college and high school existed as one district and then remained on the high school Board of Trustees of which he is still a member.
With the sudden increased growth of the junior college, the need became more urgent to have more college classrooms, more opportunity for vocational training, and eventually to have the college on a separate campus. As both the junior college and the high school enrollment increased, many problems developed while both institutions were on one campus. For example, the Educational Code prohibited smoking in both the high school and junior college when they were both on the same campus. While most of the returned GI’s were in the college, there were many veterans completing their high school classes. When all were on the same campus, using many of the same classrooms and mixing in the same general campus area, it presented a difficult problem to abide by the smoking regulation of the Educational Code and at the same time have the understanding, and cooperation, of veterans who had become accustomed to a more free use of their off-duty time.
It was in 1946-1947 that Mrs. Madeline Gwinner joined the teaching staff of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. Mrs. Gwinner (now Mrs. Madeline Chapman) was a commercial teacher in the high school and the junior college. At present, she has the second longest term of office on the junior college faculty. Mrs. Chapman has proved to be one of the outstanding leaders for the improvement of junior college instruction, good relations between faculty and students, and public relations in general.
The assessed wealth of the school district was only $22,182,710 in 1946-1947 and the maximum tax rate established by a Legislative Act was limited to $1 per $100 of assessed wealth. Though the maximum was computed on the maximum of 75¢ for high school purposes and 25¢ for junior college purposes, the entire $1 rate could be spent on either institution in any proportion that the Board of Trustees might determine.
In 1946-1947, there were almost ten high school students to be educated for each junior college student. Salaries of instructors of both high school and junior college were low. The state Legislature refused to increase the maximum tax rate that could be levied without an election.
At about this date, the Mojave and Muroc elementary districts in the Kern County portion of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District were agitating for separation so they might establish a high school district of their own. Naturally they opposed a bond election because they wanted to keep their full bonding capacity for the time when they might be separated and could build their own high school. As a result, an election was called in the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School for July 18, 1947, to obtain permission to increase the maximum operating tax rate from $1 to $1.25 per $100 of assessed wealth and for a five-year period. The election was successfully carried.
The extra 25¢ tax rate plus an increase of approximately $3,500,000 in assessed wealth made it possible during the school year 1947-1948 to improve salaries, make needed additions to the staff, and construct additional classrooms. Four buildings originally designed for military use were obtained by the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. The buildings had been designated as “war surplus” and were made available to provide classrooms for increased junior college enrollment. Two Quonset buildings were also purchased and erected for shop instruction. In the Quonset building designated for junior college shop was placed about $30,000 worth of surplus shop equipment. Thus, for the first time, the college was enabled to offer courses in metal and wood shop.
The Board of Trustees reorganized the administrative duties of the school district. The writer, who had served as principal of the high school as well as superintendent of the high school and junior college, was assigned the duties of the district superintendent full time. The responsibilities of the high school principal were assigned to Mr. Walter Dingus, who was also to retain his junior college deanship duties. To assist Mr. Dingus with his junior college administrative work was assigned Mr. Frank Flemming, a junior college mathematics teacher, to be assistant dean of the college.
It was during the school year 1947-1948 that Mr. Henry Wells, Mr. Warren Nunn and Miss Evelyn Foley first came to the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. All three are still on the junior college faculty. Mr.
Wells and Miss Foley were both assigned a full load of junior college teaching from the beginning. Mr. Nunn devoted his full time to high school teaching, but later he was transferred to the junior college full time.
On October 3, 1947, Mays Field was dedicated. Mr. J. W. Mays served on the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees from 1933 until his death in 1947. Mr. Mays had always shown a special interest in athletics. He was interested in developing a good playing field for football. The field was appropriately named “Mays Field” in memory of Mr. J. W. Mays. The completion of Mays Field, while the old Hooper Field was still in use for practice, made it possible for the junior college to field a football team. Donald McDonald, a former junior college student and a World War II pilot, was selected to coach junior college football and other junior college sports. The 1948 “Yucca” had the following to say about junior college football:
The re-establishment of an athletic program in the junior college this year not only boosted the enrollment, but stimulated the interest of the community. Besides these two resulting factors, good sportsmanship, renewed school interest, physical development, self-confidence and reliance were all the results of the athletic program.
The Maroon Marauders were not an outstanding football team, but at no time did they encounter a team that displayed better sportsmanship, before and after the game. The Marauders, in competition for the first time in over six years, faced a tough schedule. Several of the teams encountered placed on or near the top in their leagues. Defeat by a superior team is no disgrace.
The jaysees were plagued by injuries throughout the entire season. The first serious injury of the season was inflicted against Bud Winkle in the Oceanside game. Bud, who was an outstanding lineman, received a broken arm which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Dave Batz held out until the Bakersfield game. He then became the victim of a rough block which broke his right leg. These two were probably the worst injuries, but many other Marauders were out from time to time.
At the end of the season the football squad met for the purpose of electing a captain. After a short discussion it was decided that co-captains would be selected. The two men elected proved to be Johnny Lizarraga, left half, and Sheldon Krave, full, both terrific ball players.
The last official act of the season was enacted by Coach McDonald, who made out blanket orders for letters that included the entire squad.
Many thanks should go to the coaches, who, by their drive and interest, made the season a success. Bouquets should also be handed out to the teachers, who took care of the gates and to the publicity staff, who made the valley conscious of our team. Last and by no means least, the townspeople who turned out for the games, deserve a lot of thanks, for support helps a lot.
Next year will be a bigger and better year and each year after that will increase the stature of A.V. athletic teams.
For the first time in the college’s history the Maroon Marauders fielded a track team. The Marauders also played eight college basketball games.
Miss Evelyn Foley gave instruction in journalism and news editing, two new courses offered to junior college students.
During the school year 1948-49, the junior college student body decided to produce an annual of their own rather than depend upon a few pages in the high school annual, the “Yucca.” A contest was held to select a name. A newspaper account on March 7, 1949, said:
El Scimitar was the name chosen for the J.C. Annual at the student body meeting on December 17. The winning name was submitted by Don Turndrup, the past JC president. The cost of the El Scimitar is to be $2.75 without student body cards and free with student body cards.
A Forum Committee was established with the aid of the superintendent and Mr. Henry Wells was made faculty adviser. An outstanding array of nationally known speakers was brought to Antelope Valley for a forum series. This committee of junior college students made it possible for the citizens of Antelope Valley to hear such nationally known men as Alonzo Baker, John Baird and Lewis Browne.
As a whole, the school year 1947-1948 proved to be a turning point in the history of the Antelope Valley Junior College. It was the year which saw not only increased growth but also accelerated enthusiasm and progress.
Enrollment continued to increase in the college from 1946-1947 through 1949-1950. The ADA at the end of each year was as follows:
These were years when a battle was being fought in Sacramento to increase the amount of money which the state would provide for education and for a new method of distribution of that money so that poorer districts would obtain more per ADA from the state than the more wealthy districts and when school districts with necessary heavy transportation costs would be given special reimbursement to help them with those extra costs.
The superintendent of the district was one of the leaders who helped work out a method for reimbursing districts with heavy transportation costs. He also helped persuade the Legislature to increase the maximum tax rate from $1 to $1.10 per $100 assessed wealth for school districts maintaining both a high school and a junior college. As a result of his successful leadership, at the state level, he was chosen as the one superintendent in California to represent the state in the Administrative Conference at Columbia University at New York City held during the summer of 1949.
On July 1, 1950, the Mojave and Muroc elementary school districts were officially withdrawn from the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. This action removed one of the hurdles to voting bonds for more school buildings. A $750,000 bond election was called for April 27, 1950 and it carried by a large majority. This made it possible to make longtime building plans for both the high school and junior college and to have the assurance that these plans could be carried to conclusion.
It was during this four-year period (1946-1947 to 1949-1950) that there were three deaths of existing and former school trustees. Mr. Joe Maxwell, who had served many years and who had earlier resigned because of ill health, passed away August 21, 1950. As indicated earlier, Mr. Maxwell’s vacancy was filled by Mr. Gus Eliopulos. Mr. Wallace Ward became a school board member to fill the vacancy left by the death of Mr. J. W. Mays, and Mr. Dean Lemon was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Clifford Burton. Because Mr. Lemon was from part of the area (Boron) which withdrew to form a new district, he resigned to be replaced by Mr. George McNamee of Rosamond who served until 1960.
The junior college seemed to be assured of community acceptance and a future for the first time in its history. School spirit was high, participation in sports was active, financial limitations of the past were at least changed for the better. The curriculum had been broadened to meet the needs of more students. Veterans were taking advantage of their educational opportunities provided by the junior college and the GI Bill of Rights. Hope and enthusiasm were in the air. After 20 years, the junior college was at least on its way.
But international tensions and war inversely affect college enrollment. On June 25, 1950, powerful and carefully prepared units of the communist North Korean army broke over the 38th parallel and crashed into the territory of the Republic of Korea.
This action was to affect the enrollment and progress of the Antelope Valley Junior College for the next three years.
Chapter VII: The Three Years of the Korean Conflict, 1950-1953
United States’ intervention in the Korean conflict covered the time from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. Many World War II veterans were called back into military service and many younger non-veterans enlisted. Although the early months of the Korean conflict indicated that the duration would be short, the war lasted over three years. In October 1950, General Douglas MacArthur predicted that enemy resistance would end by Thanksgiving Day and that the American 8th Army could be withdrawn to Japan by Christmas. However, in the meantime the Chinese communists entered the war and General MacArthur’s prediction did not materialize.
Following a four-year period of increasing enrollment in Antelope Valley Junior College, the enrollment dropped during the three-year period of the Korean conflict. Compared to an ADA of 218 in the school year 1949-1950 the ADA dropped in the following three years as follows:
The drop in enrollment was not great, but it was enough to put a damper on many of the college activities which had been gaining momentum during the years 1946 to 1950.
Football, which had only been started three years before, was hardest hit. The size of the college did not permit much depth in a football team at best. The able coaching of Donald McDonald and the fine leadership of department Head Coach Ward (Rusty) Myers had built the prospects of a strong team as the college grew in enrollment. The prospective growth in the immediate future was shattered by the Korean conflict and its demand for young men of college age. During the 1950-1951 school year, Coach Myers was ordered back into active service in the United States Naval Reserve. Coach McDonald lost many of his seasoned players. During the football season a report in the Valley Press of October 26, 1950, says:
Antelope Valley Junior College lost a sizeable hunk of its masculine public this week as ten students left the Junior College in favor of the Armed Forces. All are of draft age. Hardest hit of all campus groups by the mass departure is the junior college football squad which loses six first-string players and an Assistant Coach, Ronnie Ritchie.
In spite of this loss of players, the remaining team members voted to finish the football schedule even though they knew the odds were all against them.
Ray McFarland, sports editor for the Antelope Valley Independent, wrote the following in the October 27, 1950 issue:
It takes a lot of guts to do what the junior college football team did this week in voting to continue what can well be termed a suicide schedule of gridiron contests.
This column wants to dedicate this edition of the Independent SPORTS to the entire Maroon Marauders team for their sportsmanship in taking this action. To date the Marauders have not won a game. In fact they have not scored a single point in any of their games, while their opposition has rolled up a total of 169 points. Starting out with a small squad, injuries and drop outs have reduced the number of players suiting up to less than two full teams with many of the players never having been in a football uniform before this season. A number of players have played 40 and 50 minutes each game without complaint and without giving up. Although hopelessly outclassed in a number of their games they continued to fight every minute of the time. I am mighty proud of our Jaysee football team. I am proud of the boys and I am proud of Coach McDonald for carrying on as he has.
Needless to say, no football schedule was approved for the school year 1951-1952. However, the spirit shown by the members of the football team was indicative of the spirit shown by the college as a whole. Activities were curtailed but not more than absolutely necessary. The curriculum offerings were maintained and even expanded in some cases.
1951 was a year when fear of war reached its highest peak. Senator Joseph McCarthy was busy slambanging the State Department. Loyalty oaths were required by law of all school employees and other public officials. Superintendent of Schools Goslin of Pasadena, California, was dismissed, thus adding to the campaign of criticism against public school personnel. Julian Beck, assemblyman representing Antelope Valley, was up for election following many years in which he gave his support to better financial assistance from the state to public schools. He won the election by a small margin against an onslaught of campaign propaganda that he was communistically inclined.
At about this same time, the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation was contemplating a contract with Los Angeles County to move its testing facility to the Palmdale Airport. The successful culmination of the contract was a forerunner to the establishment of Plant 42 in Antelope Valley and the consequent movement of other aircraft companies to the valley, contributing to the population boom that followed.
It was during the school year 1950-1951 that Charles Parker became a part of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School faculty. He served as high school teacher, activities director and assistant superintendent of schools before he requested an assignment to the junior college teaching staff. It was also during 1950-1951 that “Bob” McCutcheon joined the coaching staff of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. “Shouting Bob,” as he was later called, was to become an outstanding coach and a controversial figure in football when it was again reinstated in Antelope Valley Junior College.
At the end of the 1951-1952 school year, Mr. Walter Dingus resigned his position of high school principal and junior college dean to accept the principalship of the newly organized San Marino High School in San Marino, California. Later Mr. Dingus was promoted to superintendent of the San Marino Unified School District, which position he still holds.
Dr. Robert Dougherty was elected to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Dingus’s resignation but because of administrative reorganization Mr. Frank Fleming was given the full-time deanship of the junior college. Mr. Fleming had been assistant dean of the college under Mr. Dingus and at the time of his resignation Mr. Dingus had recommended that the responsibilities of the junior college dean really called for a full-time man to serve as director.
The 1952-1953 El Scimitar pictures both Mr. Frank Fleming and Miss Evelyn Foley. The following statement is included about Mr. Fleming:
This year the administration of the junior college was separated from that of the high school and Mr. Frank Fleming, who has been Dean of Men for three years, has been appointed to fill that position.
The same issue of El Scimitar says of Miss Foley:
As Dean of Women Evelyn Foley serves as an understanding adviser when the girls need help. She sponsors the Associated Women students. Miss Foley teaches English, Modern Literature and Introduction to Education at Antelope Valley College.
In Mr. Fleming’s first year as Director of Antelope Valley Junior College, he reinstated football, and Bob McCutcheon was made junior college football coach.
The August 14, 1952, Ledger Gazette carried a story, part of which is quoted below:
Undertaking one of the toughest football schedules in the history of the school will be a job this year of the Antelope Valley Junior College Marauders. After a one year layoff from the sport, the junior college will field a virtually untried team...”
Nevertheless junior college Coach McCutcheon is optimistic in his outlook for junior college sports this year.
Mr. McCutcheon did not depend entirely upon local boys to build a football team but obtained many young men from non-junior college territory in California. Mr. Fleming and Mr. McCutcheon put on a campaign among Lancaster businessmen to provide jobs for athletes. The August 14, 1952 Ledger Gazette reports as follows:
Coach Bob McCutcheon says he is expecting more than 15 athletes to report to Antelope Valley Junior College this year from communities outside of Antelope Valley who will need part-time jobs to help them attend school here.
The junior college coach predicts that if the Antelope Valley Junior College is ever going to have an outstanding football team, this year will be a stepping stone to that goal.
Bob McCutcheon, assisted by Warren Nunn, coached the college football team through a very successful season scoring 238 points to the opponent’s 80. Mr. McCutcheon also coached the junior college basketball team to the South Central College championship. The 1952-1953 El Scimitar was dedicated to Mr. McCutcheon in recognition of the outstanding football and basketball teams which he coached. The El Scimitar wrote:
Without the enthusiasm and interest shown by Coach McCutcheon, the teams could never have finished each season with such a successful record.
It should be noted that the sudden success of the athletic teams in the last year of the Korean conflict and in spite of low enrollment attracted much attention to the junior college and stimulated both enrollment and interest in athletics in the following years. It should also be noted that the enthusiasm aroused by Bob McCutcheon’s successful coaching ultimately led to problems in Antelope Valley Junior College.
Chapter VIII: Growth, Football and Accreditation
The four years following the end of the Korean conflict brought growth to the Antelope Valley Junior College. By the end of the school year 1956-1957, the ADA of the college had increased three times over that of 1952-1953.
It was during this period of time that many of the present faculty members of the junior college first became members of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District faculty. Gladys Baird, Gail Newkirk and Gordon Clifgard were teachers in the college from the time of their first employment. Bruce Cohen, James Kelly, Selmer Westby and Warren Houghton were teachers in the high school part or all of their time prior to full-time permanent assignment to the junior college. Jack Held did not join the college staff until 1961. Between December 1956 and 1961 he taught speech and drama in the high school. James Kelly taught in both the high school in Lancaster and the Palmdale High School prior to permanent assignment in the college in 1961.
The years 1953-54 to 1956-57 witnessed an increased athletic program which attracted statewide and nationwide attention in junior college circles. The athletic program almost became the complete undoing of the Antelope Valley Junior College because of over emphasis in relation to the rest of the college program.
Prior to 1956, accreditation of Antelope Valley Junior College had never been questioned. The State Department of Education was the accrediting agency until 1956 when future accreditation would be dependent upon the Commission and Standards of the Western College Association. The report of the first visiting committee of the Western College Association resulted in a loss of accreditation of the Antelope Valley Junior College as of the end of the academic year June 30, 1957.
During this four-year period, the enrollment of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District and Junior College increased from a total of 1,615 in 1952-1953 to an ADA of 3,434 in 1956-1957. With the exception of about 50 students at the Randsburg High School, all of these students had to be housed upon the one campus in Lancaster. There were no adequate library facilities for the junior college. Temporary classrooms were constructed on the high school campus. The fairgrounds were used for ninth grade classes. Classrooms and gymnasium space for the college had to be shared with the high school. All of these conditions existed at the end of the school year ending June 1956.
In February of 1955, the Board of Trustees purchased ten acres of land from Mr. R. D. Robertson and sometime later twenty acres from Benjamin Carter. The location of this 30 acres is between 3rd Street East and 5th Street East and between Avenue I and Kettering Street. The 30 acres included all of the 40 acres bounded above except the northwest ten acres. The idea of the purchase was to provide a separate junior college campus at the earliest possible time. After the purchase, the State Schoolhouse Planning Commission decided that 30 acres was inadequate for a permanent junior college site, but granted permission for it to be used as a site for temporary buildings until a new and better site could be purchased and buildings constructed.
The school district passed a $4 million bond election on May 18, 1956, and received authorization to accept another $4 million in state aid. The new temporary site could not be made ready for the move of the junior college until the opening of the school year 1956-1957. During the summer of 1956, the temporary buildings on the old campus of the high school and junior college were moved from the high school site to the new temporary junior college site. Unfortunately the move to the new site had just been completed when the first committee of the Commission for Accreditation of Junior Colleges made its visit to the Antelope Valley Junior College.
During the four years (1953-1954 to 1956-1957) inclusive, the curriculum was expanded. With John Meyer as student body president and Pat Gary as instructor, the California Young Farmers Association was active on the campus.
Under the sponsorship of Robert O. Hahn, the Future Teachers Association held regular meetings and stimulated many superior students to enter teaching. Mr. Hahn also sponsored the “Stage Coachers,” a drama club for any college student who wished to participate in dramatics. The curriculum was expanded as far as facilities would permit to meet the needs of the students. Academic standards were raised. Alpha Iota, the Antelope Valley Junior College chapter of Alpha Gamma Sigma (founded in 1939) was active and graduating students received more than the normal share of statewide honors. College graduates who attended the University of California maintained high grade point standards. The El Scimitar staff and the Tumbleweed staff produced excellent publications. The 1953-1954 El Scimitar was dedicated to Frank J. Fleming, director of the college. The dedication statement says:
We the members of the El Scimitar staff dedicate this yearbook to the one person who has done the most to further the interest and welfare of the junior college.
Many other student activities were back in full stride again as the year 1953-1954 progressed. However, in spite of all of these activities and the high calibre of class work, athletics seemed to take the spotlight of attention. Director Fleming appeared before community meetings to help stimulate interest in the college. The community, as a whole, seemed to pay more attention to the college men’s athletics than the other activities, even more than to the academic standards of the college. Athletics was emphasized by Director Fleming to further stimulate interest in the junior college. In 1955-1956, the El Scimitar reflected the over emphasis upon athletics in relation to the whole junior college. About 25% of the publication was devoted to football, 36% of the book was devoted to boys’ athletics. 50% of the annual was devoted to both boys’ and girls’ athletics and physical education.
With the small enrollment of 1952-1953, the last year of the Korean conflict, Bob McCutcheon had produced a football team such as would have been considered impossible. “Shouting Bob” had recruited many of his 1952-1953 team from non-junior college territory. He had such a successful football season that he again recruited from any non-junior college territory where he could find good football prospects. Jobs were provided for these players by the community. The class load and academic requirements for athletes were kept to a minimum. The result of the 1953 football season was seven wins and two defeats. On page 64 of the 1954 El Scimitar we find:
Traveling down to Blythe, the Marauders battled the Palo Verde Junior College Pirates and after a rough game the Marauders tasted the bitter fruits of defeat for the first time this season. One point told a whole story of defeat. The game ended 19 to 20.
The second defeat was by Laverne College. The conference championship was awarded to the Antelope Valley Junior College football Marauders and then the Marauders were compelled to give up the championship because they had played an ineligible player. The December 10, 1953, issue of the South Antelope Valley
Press quotes Director Fleming as saying:
This case is due entirely to a misinterpretation of the eligibility rules. At no time was any attempt made to evade any rule or to hide any information. I have the highest personal regard for Orville Willis and have complete confidence in him. He should not be blamed nor criticized in any way for what has happened. I feel that the entire responsibility lies with me. It is my task to certify the eligibility of each player. I am the one who unintentionally made the wrong interpretation.
As a result of this default, Antelope Valley Junior College had to forfeit all of their football games as well as the co-championship of the South Central Junior College Conference. The fact that many of the Marauders were nonresidents of the Antelope Valley Junior College District, coupled with the fact that they won all South Central Conference games except Palo Verde at Blythe, California, and then were found to have played an ineligible player aroused suspicion on the part of conference member schools.
In the meantime, a group of Antelope Valley citizens, many of whom were alumni of the high school, formed a booster group known as the Marauder Bench. The Marauder Bench attended all games and helped in any way possible to bring about conditions which would assure a successful season in all college sports. Many members were more interested in football than other sports but the Bench became a powerful organization for helping athletics in general. Many members assumed the responsibility of helping the college find jobs and housing for nonresident students.
The deflated success of the 1953 football season stimulated Mr. McCutcheon to greater effort for the 1954 season. The 1954 football team won all nine season games and then won the Olive Bowl game against the College of the Sequoias with a 6 to 0 score. They were then invited to the Orange Show Bowl game. This game was played against Mt. San Antonio College at San Bernardino on a muddy field on a rainy night. The final score was 0 to 0. Coach McCutcheon then coached the college basketball team to an undisputed championship.
The 1955 football season was another successful one from the win-loss standpoint, but tensions against the Marauders continued to build up. In the nine games of the season, the Marauders won a score of 287 to their opponents’ 47. The big majority of the football players for the college were nonresidents. The only game lost was with Palo Verde at Blythe where the score was 13 to 14 in favor of Palo Verde. The ill feeling was strong on both sides and the issues were carried to the Commissioner of the South Central Conference.
At the end of the 1955 season, the first Alfalfa Bowl game was played at Mays Field. The game was played with Yuba City. The final score was 19 to 7 in favor of Yuba City. The sportsmanship on the part of both teams was superior in every way. The gate was more than expected. It was a successful event and laid the foundation for what was hoped to be an annual post season Alfalfa Bowl game on Thanksgiving Day.
The South Central Conference met in Oceanside in December 1955. Several of the junior colleges in the conference were inclined toward administering discipline against the Antelope Valley Junior College Marauders. The Palo Verde College from Blythe criticized the conduct of the Marauders, their coach and the Antelope Valley Junior College director at the Blythe football game. The manner in which Coach McCutcheon recruited football players was questioned. However, Palo Verde College was not free from the same kind of criticism which it directed toward Antelope Valley Junior College and it was agreed to let the State Athletic Committee investigate Antelope Valley Junior College and take any action it felt necessary.
The Marauder Bench, an exceptionally helpful and cooperative body of men forming the “booster” organization, now felt that their efforts were being thwarted by unjust discrimination against the Marauders. They were thus stimulated to take a more forceful stand. They felt that the Marauders had not received a fair deal either at Blythe or at the hands of the South Central Conference. Coach McCutcheon was in agreement with this more aggressive point of view. He tended to be guided more by the suggestions of the Marauder Bench than by the direction of the school administration.
On September 19, 1956, Dr. Edward Simonson, Commissioner of the California State Junior College Athletic Association, and Mr. Al “Bud” Revis, Commissioner of the South Central Conference, visited the Antelope Valley Junior College for the purpose of looking into alleged violations of the Athletic Code. Their inquiry was conducted along two lines: (1) The activities of the college staff. (2) The activities of the “booster” organization.
Under item (1) they found that one member of the coaching staff was not a bona fide member of the instructional staff and that a grant-in-aid program had been in operation during the past years, both in violation of the Athletic Code.
Under item (2) they reported that the Marauder Bench apparently was interested in the overall development of the college and that the money which they gave to the college was to be used as the college administration deemed proper.
Assuming these reports to be correct, they suggested that the name “Marauder Bench” was possibly misleading and inappropriate.
On October 5, 1956, Dr. Simonson made the report given in part above to the California Junior College Association State Athletic Committee. The State Athletic Committee then accepted the recommendations of the subcommittee in reference to Antelope Valley Junior College, which were as follows:
- That Antelope Valley Junior College be placed on probation for the school year 1956-1957.
- That the State Athletic Committee and the South Central Conference conduct another investigation of the athletic program of the Antelope Valley Junior College at the close of the school year 1956-1957. This investigation should be conducted no later than September 1957 in order to determine whether the probation should be lifted or continued, or whether the Antelope Valley Junior College should be suspended from the California Junior College Association for athletic purposes.
- That like investigations be made in other junior colleges where alleged violations of the Athletic Code had been reported.
It was suggested that, generally speaking, the South Central Conference might take any further action it felt necessary relative to the alleged violations of the Athletic Code by Antelope Valley Junior College.
The South Central Conference only requested that Antelope Valley Junior College not participate in any post-season games in 1956 unless given the specific permission of the Commissioner of the South Central Conference.
The Antelope Valley Junior College Marauders were allowed to play the 1956 football season, but it was evident that the spotlight would be on them for any infraction of the state Athletic Code. Mr. Fleming took the probationary status seriously and arranged a method for paying football players for work done and arranged that payment be made in a manner which conformed with the state Athletic Code. He also tried to check carefully the eligibility of every young man playing football on the Marauder team.
On the other hand it did not appear that certain Marauder Bench leaders or Coach McCutcheon took the probation status of the college seriously. On November 28, 1956, Mr. Fleming found it necessary to write the president of the Marauder Bench that he was receiving unconfirmed reports that the Bench was dispersing money illegally to athletes and asked for their help in seeing that all money be channeled correctly through his office. Mr. Fleming also reported to the district superintendent that there seemed to be an almost complete breakdown of cooperation between Mr. McCutcheon, the college coach, and Mr. Lloyd Helgeson, head of the boys’ Physical Education Department. It appeared that Coach McCutcheon was again taking his directives from the Marauder Bench rather than from Mr. Helgeson and/or Mr. Fleming.
Coach Bob McCutcheon’s college Marauders were rated as ninth in the nation by the Los Angeles Times All American Gridiron Index. The same ratings disclosed the Marauders as the fourth ranking team among all California Junior College teams. At the end of the football season the Marauders had scored 355 points against their opponents’ 55 points in the ten games played. In every game, Coach McCutcheon -- by letting his team run as high a score as possible -- created more ill will on the part of the opponents.
Because of its season record, the Marauders received an invitation to participate in the post season Orange Show Bowl game at San Bernardino. Although the Antelope Valley Junior College football team was playing on a probationary status with instructions not to play a post-season game without specific permission, the pressure was great by both Coach McCutcheon and certain Marauder Bench leaders to accept the invitation. Contrary to the advice of the South Central Conference Commissioner and without the knowledge of the district superintendent, the contract was signed. The game was played and the Marauders won.
Immediately following this final disregard of probationary status, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously under the Antelope Valley Junior College.
On November 12, 1956, the Western College Association notified Mr. Frank J. Fleming, director of the Antelope Valley Junior College, that the accreditation of the college would be discontinued at the end of the academic year June 30, 1957. On December 1, 1956, the South Central Junior College Athletic Conference met in Palm Springs. The Antelope Valley Junior College was required to forfeit all 1956 football games including the Orange Show Bowl game which they had won. In the December 17, 1956 Ledger Gazette appeared an editorial by Mr. W.J. Valentine which began as follows:
The Board of Trustees of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District and Dr. Roy A. Knapp have one of the toughest administration problems of their careers to solve within the period ending June 30, 1957. Two problems have come together at the same time complicating the picture and each influencing the other to the extent that now both must be solved at the same time. If this is not done the unsolved problem will prevent clearance on the solved.
Both problems fall clearly within the sphere of responsibility of junior college Director Frank Fleming and junior college Coach Bob McCutcheon under the supervision of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Knapp.
Commissioner “Bud” Revis of the South Central Athletic Committee then reported that investigation by his committee had found that approximately $7,000 of welfare funds had been spent on 25 individuals, 23 of whom were athletes. He reported direct loans made by the Marauder Bench to athletes with some evidence on the books that repayment of these loans had not been demanded. He further reported that low-rent housing had been made available for nonresident athletes but that rent was not always collected. He also pointed out other violations. The result was a resolution which put the Antelope Valley Junior College athletic program under further probationary restrictions. Although the failure to receive accreditation was not entirely due to the athletic situation, it was a factor which cast a suspicion on the whole Antelope Valley Junior College situation. Other factors besides interscholastic athletics and lack of physical education were inadequate library and audio visual equipment, failure to use local advisory committees, heavy teaching loads for some junior college teachers, need of more personnel for junior college administration, lack of a student union, and others.
Many of the problems which were apparent were in the process of being corrected as soon as the temporary facilities could be organized. On page 2 of the 1957 El Scimitar the following statement was made:
In July 1956, our campus was nothing but sand dunes, cactus and Joshua trees. One driving by the desert scene would never have believed that in September students would be hurrying to and from classes with books under their arms across blacktopped surface of a newborn school.
The visiting committee of the Commission for Accrediting Junior Colleges arrived at Antelope Valley Junior College in October 1956, before the transition to the new temporary campus was complete and naturally they saw the college at its worst.
The district superintendent had just passed a $4 million bond issue plus a $4 million state aid acceptance in early 1956. He was involved in plans for expansion of the high school plant, purchasing sites and moving the temporary buildings from the high school site to the new temporary junior college site. He had delegated responsibility to the director of the junior college for the junior college and for keeping him informed of the needs of the college, especially as it approached the accreditation visit. Apparently he depended too much on being kept informed by the director of the college and thus did not directly supervise the work himself. The director apparently was aware of the needs of the junior college but did not adequately communicate those needs to the superintendent and the Board of Trustees, trusting that the weaknesses brought out by the visiting committee would result in a year for correction.
The ambitious and aggressive football program also demanded more than a fair proportion of the junior college director’s time. The factors were many in bringing about the two discouraging reports but possibly more good than harm was the long-term result. The public had tended to take the college for granted and to give undue attention to having an outstanding interscholastic athletic program.
The repercussions to the two bomb explosions seemed to arouse the awareness of the public not only to the need for a junior college but for the need of a good, well-balanced college program in Antelope Valley.
The Board of Trustees, the superintendent, the junior college director and the junior college teaching staff began work. Immediately an administrative reorganization of the junior college was made and approved by the Board of Trustees. Mr. Warren Nunn was appointed dean of instruction, Mr. Bert W. Wadsworth was appointed dean of students and assistant director. Dr. Herbert Zeitlin was elected dean of the evening schools. Miss Margaret Barsot was appointed college librarian with approval given for the purchase of needed books. Dr. Ervin Ortman was elected coordinator of guidance and Dean Russell was appointed student activities coordinator.
On February 6, 1957, the superintendent made a comprehensive report to the Board of Trustees in which was an unbiased outline of all factors leading to the December debacle. Before the Board of Trustees adjourned, they unanimously passed two motions. One was designed to prevent further athletic violations and the other was directed toward the conduct of Coach McCutcheon himself. At the same meeting a request from Frank F. Fleming to be relieved of the responsibility of director of the junior college, was accepted and authorization was given Superintendent Knapp to obtain a qualified replacement for Mr. Fleming as soon as possible. A new spirit of hope began to permeate the whole junior college faculty and student body.
On February 15, 1957, an editorial appeared in the Tumbleweed entitled, “Let’s Count Our Assets”, and signed Publius. The editorial had been written by Mr. Paul Greenlee who was the faculty sponsor of the junior college publication “Tumbleweed.” It is reproduced below because it caught the optimistic thinking of most of those interested in the future of a good, well-balanced junior college. The editorial is as follows:
“Let’s Count Our Assets”
The present day Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang relates the story of his pessimistic countryman who lamented that the wine glass was half empty. The man’s companion was quick to take the more optimistic stand that the glass was half full.
Let’s look, for a moment, at Antelope Valley Junior College through the eyes of the anonymous Chinese optimist, and instead of reviewing our liabilities, sum up our assets.
A new $500,000 gym -- extensive and expensive science labs -- a fast growing library of quality books -- freshly painted buildings -- and the auxiliary facilities that include sprinklers, fencing, parking, walks, and offices are apparent to even the most casual observer.
Let’s take a second more penetrating look. More important, by far, in the eyes of this writer, are the less tangible assets that far outweigh the physical assets listed above. Reflect if you will on the following balance sheet.
- An administrative staff that failed to “blow” under pressure...a staff that has faced a multitude of problems with determination, and, as is now apparent, with success... a staff that took its share of criticism without complaint and continued to treat students and faculty with consideration.
- A director, Frank Fleming, recently characterized by Dr. Roy A. Knapp as “loyal, honest and earnest,” who without emotional display “stayed in there pitching” until physically exhausted ... a man who students and faculty alike hope will soon be ready to continue to contribute to the college.
- A hard working, yes, let’s say over-worked, faculty, praised by both the Melbo Survey Team and the Western Colleges Association Accreditation ... a faculty given a clean bill of health for sound academic background and lauded for giving its best despite the then existing physical limitations of the campus ... a faculty that struggled with the emotional shock of the blows that befell the school, won the struggle, and continues to face its classes with assurance and determination.
- Two well-trained newcomers to the college, Dr. Herbert Zeitlin and Dr. E.A. Ortman, who already have made contributions that have enriched their respective fields of adult education and counseling and guidance.
- A student body praised by both visiting committees, that treats its instructors with respect, doesn’t display irritation over the fast vanishing physical limitations of the plant, and goes about the business of learning with an intent seldom equaled,
- An office and maintenance staff faithful in the execution of its duties.
Is this evaluation of AVJC inaccurate, “corny” or over-written? Not in the eyes of anyone close to the scene. Not in the eyes of an observer who has watched a few acres of blow sand change into a college that now quite adequately serves the educational wants of students drawn from an area of several hundred square miles.
On March 1, 1957, a special committee on accrediting Junior Colleges visited the college campus for the purpose of:
- Determining how much had been accomplished by the Antelope Valley College since the accrediting visit of the previous October.
- To advise the school administration as to what further measures should be undertaken.
In closing its report the committee said:
Much has been done, and everything that has been done seems to be in the right direction. However, the magnitude of the task is such that a revisit should not be scheduled until next year. The college, if it feels ready for the visit at that time, should request that a visit be made not earlier than late November or early December, which would permit action by the Western Colleges Association at its spring meeting, 1958. If not ready at that time, a spring visit could be scheduled.
In the meantime, the college should feel no discouragement with the progress made to this point. Every indication is that faculty and student morale remains high. The measures being taken for the attainment of accreditation will benefit everyone in the college and the territory it serves, and it is the firm belief of this Committee that, out of the turmoil and disappointment of the present, there will emerge a stronger and finer Antelope Valley College.
On March 7, 1957, the Board of Trustees announced the selection of Dr. Lowell F. Barker from Pasadena City College, the new president of the Antelope Valley Junior College. They also reported that students graduating from the college would have no special difficulty in transferring their units to another college and that if accreditation of the Antelope Valley Junior College was re-attained during 1957-1958, students graduating in 1958 would have their credits fully accepted also. At the same meeting of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Wallace Ward, prominent Lancaster businessman and for more than seven years a member of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School Board of Trustees, tendered his resignation because of ill health. In unanimous action by the board, Alden B. Carder, a Douglas Aircraft executive, was recommended to the County Board of Education to fill the position vacated by Mr. Ward. On April 2, 1957, Mr. Bob McCutcheon submitted his resignation to take over the duties of athletic director and football coach at San Diego University. He asked to be released as of May 1 to take over his new duties.
On April 4, 1957, the Board of Trustees gave the district superintendent authorization to put 110 acres located at Avenue K and 30th Street West in escrow. The property was to be used as the site for a new junior college plant.
The school year 1956-1957, a year of problems for the Antelope Valley Junior College, drew quietly to a close under the able leadership of the junior college president, Dr. Lowell F. Barker.
Chapter IX: Laying a New Foundation
The citizens of Lancaster, and Antelope Valley in general, became very sensitive to their schools in 1957. The Antelope Valley Junior College had lost its accreditation and had its athletic team on probation. Director Fleming had resigned and the vacancy had been filled by Dr. Lowell F. Barker. On September 1, 1957, Emil Fernandez, Ruby McNinch, Bill Montamble and Richard Thompson joined the college faculty.
In the Lancaster Elementary School, Dr. Carl Boswell, superintendent, resigned and the vacancy was filled by Mr. Ronald C. Henderson. This exchange took place with a furor over an assistant superintendent, Mr. Abby.
On October 4, 1957, Russia shot Sputnik I, its first satellite into orbit. Sputnik II followed on November 3, 1957. It was January 31, 1958, before the United States put its first American satellite, Explorer 4 into orbit. The United States was embarrassed not to be in the vanguard. Some suggested that the Explorer I should have been called Rearguard I. Why were we, the Americans, behind the Russians? Professors of education and school administrators were re-named “Educationists” and the schools became the most obvious target for American tardiness. While Sputniks and Explorers orbited the earth, criticism of education orbited the schools. The criticism was not always correct and frequently unjust. Yet a new consciousness was evident on the part of the public about its schools and colleges.
At long last, educational achievement was honorable. Students were respected for their scholarship. Within this relatively new atmosphere the Superintendent and President Lowell F. Barker set forth to lay a solid formation for the new Antelope Valley Junior College which was to be. It was at this time that Mr. Clyde McCully was appointed to the position of assistant to the dean of students. Mr. McCully’s appointment was a part of a program designed to expand services to the students of the college.
A second accreditation visit to the college campus was scheduled for December 11 and 12, 1957. In preparation for the visit, Dr. Barker, his fellow administrators and the faculty members engaged in a self-evaluation program based on recommendations set forth by the accreditation team on its previous visit.
Under the leadership of Dr. Herbert Zeitlin, over 1,000 adult students were enrolled in an extended day program to meet the needs of the community. A vocational nursing program had been established. New science laboratories had been built. The library had been expanded. Shop and physical education facilities had been added. The college had increased its audiovisual equipment. Facilities for student activities were improved. The teaching load of its instructors had been reduced. Mr. D. C. “Bucky” Wolter had been selected to head the athletic and physical education department.
A much more thorough preparation was made under the leadership of Dr. Barker than had been made for the first accreditation visit. The second visit was a success and the result was a three-year accreditation to the end of the 1959-1960 academic year. Because this period included the 1957-1958 school year, no student was ever graduated from the Antelope Valley College while it was non-accredited.
On December 12, 1957, after hearing the visiting committee’s “glowing” report, Mr. Gus Eliopolus, president of the Board of Trustees, wrote the following letter to the superintendent:
Dear Dr. Knapp:
I want to express the appreciation and congratulations of myself and the Board of Trustees to you, your staff, Dr. Barker and his staff for the great strides forward made at the Antelope Valley college in the past year as indicated by the verbal report given to the faculty and administration by Dr. McNaughton of the Accreditation team. I especially want to thank you personally for your outstanding leadership and devotion which helped to make this achievement possible.
Gus Eliopolus, President
Board of Trustees
On April 22, 1958, a $12.5 million bond election was carried 3.4 to 1. A portion of this money was committed to the college. The 110-acre site at 30th Street West and Avenue K had been purchased. A preliminary master utilization plan showing the location of buildings had been presented by the architect. College personnel worked closely with Dr. Barker and the architect in completing preliminary space adequacy studies indicating the number of classrooms and other facilities needed during different enrollment peaks. The Board of Trustees spent many hours making a detailed study of the preliminary site plans.
Dr. Charles W. Bursch, former head of the State Department Schoolhouse Planning and a nationally recognized authority in the field, was retained to make a space adequacy study for junior colleges in general with the Antelope Valley Junior College plans being revised to make more efficient use of the space.
It was estimated that approximately $1 million was eliminated from the cost of the preliminary college plans to accommodate the same number of students. As soon as the $12.5 million bond election was passed, the Board of Trustees was ready to give the architect authority to go ahead with plans and specifications for the college buildings on the new site.
On April 29, 1958, the Ledger Gazette carried an editorial by Mr. W. J. Valentine entitled; “College Campus is a Monument to Order and Alertness to Students.” Mr. Valentine wrote this editorial after visiting the temporary campus. In this editorial Mr. Valentine said:
We love order. It was the way we were educated and trained and the campus (of Antelope Valley College), the classrooms and all about it bespeak order.
On May 5, 1958, the California Junior College Association State Athletic Committee passed a resolution that the probationary status of Antelope Valley College be lifted on July 1, 1958. Much of the credit for this changed attitude toward athletics in the college is due to the leadership of “Bucky” Wolter. During Mr. Wolter’s first year with the college, the Marauder Bench demonstrated its interest in the college as a whole by presenting a number of academic scholarships.
The 1957-1958 El Scimitar was dedicated to Dr. Roy A. Knapp. The dedication statement was as follows:
To Dr. Roy A Knapp
Because he believed…
Because he held fast to his faith...
Because he kept a small and struggling junior college alive in this Valley when enrollment dwindled, public confidence waned, and its survival was in doubt...
Because he has been our friend and our inspiration in difficult times...
Because he had a vision of the Antelope Valley College to be...
We dedicate this book to him.
The El Scimitar Staff
In August 1958, all of the older buildings on the high school campus were demolished to make ready for a complete high school plant which would meet the requirements of the Field Act and the requirements of the State Department of Schoolhouse Planning. In the Antelope Valley College the school year 1958-1959 again under the leadership of Dr. Barker achieved much to improve the college. Probably the most outstanding achievement of Dr. Barker, his staff and his faculty, in cooperation with the architect, Mr. H. L. Gogerty, was the development of the building plans for the college on the new 110-acre site. The first units to be constructed were sufficient to accommodate 1,500 students and following the space adequacy studies for all phases of the curriculum, plans and specifications were completed and bids called for the construction.
During the school year 1958-1959 to the faculty of the college were added Eugene Schumacher, Louise Bercaw, Glenn Bunten, Loma Knokey, and Dr. Francis Rogan. They all proved to be important additions to the faculty, and all have worked for the improvement of the college in their various positions. Robert Lundak also joined the faculty of the high school that same year. He served as an outstanding counselor in the high school until July 1, 1961, when he was appointed Dean of the Extended Day School in the junior college. Eugene Schumacher joined the administrative staff of Dr. Barker from his first employment by the school district on September 1, 1958.
On September 2, 1959, the official ground breaking ceremonies were held at the 30th Street West and Avenue K site and construction began immediately following that date. The grading, further contracts and the construction would take approximately 18 months and therefore, it was planned that the college could move from its temporary quarters to the new plant probably in the second semester of the school year 1960-1961. In the meantime, development of the college proceeded with enthusiasm as it looked forward to its new home.
Chapter X: Preparation for a Junior College District
Since 1929, when the Antelope Valley Junior College came into being, it had been a division of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. A single Board of Trustees had been the governing body of the college as well as the high school. An individual superintendent had administered both schools.
In the school year 1959-1960, the ADA of the college was 964 and the enrollment exceeded that number because many of the students were taking advantage of the extended day program offered for adults. It was during this school year that Russell Niles, Marion Saunders, and Jennings Brown first became a part of the junior college faculty. The college now had a separate faculty. The president had his own staff. The college was on a campus completely removed from the high school. The new buildings were under construction on the new 110-acre site at 30th Street West and Avenue K. Yet, the college was still associated with the high school district. There was one common boundary. Both schools were controlled by one set of general accounts, one budget and one central administration.
The local tax rate per $100 of assessed wealth was still only $1.10 as it had been for many years. Only the approval of the majority of the electors voting in a regularly called election could permit a higher tax rate.
Since 1958, Antelope Valley was in a temporary economic slump because the government contracts for aircraft work in the school district had been cut back. In the spring of 1959 an attempt to gain permission to increase the tax rate was defeated at the polls.
On May 3, 1960, a second attempt to gain permission to increase the tax rate was defeated by only 92 votes in the heaviest turnout of any election ever held in Antelope Valley. 8,612 votes were cast in the election asking permission to raise the tax rate from $1.10 to $1.46 per $100 of assessed wealth. At that time more than the amount of money raised by the 35¢ rate was being spent upon the college in an attempt to upgrade all factors which contributed toward a better college.
The high school was growing rapidly in spite of the economic slump but the amount of money available to operate the high school was being drained by the needs of the college. It, therefore, became necessary for the Board of
Trustees to cut back some of the educational opportunities previously offered.
In the school year 1960-1961, the high school cut its normal six-period day to five periods and approximately 22 faculty vacancies were not filled. At the college, the extended day and adult education portion of the program was eliminated for the year. The result was a drop of 285 in ADA in the college. Most of this drop was in that part of the program which had been offered for adults through the extended day portion of the program. At least the same high quality program was maintained for the regular day portion of the college.
On May 4, 1960, the day following the 92-vote defeat of the school tax boost election, the Western Colleges Association visiting team to the college made its oral report. Speaking at the informal oral report of the accreditation team, Superintendent Knapp said in part:
In reference to the results of yesterday’s election, I view it from this standpoint. It is a temporary setback and temporary limitation. It is a challenge to do the best we can with what we have. A sound foundation is being laid in the long run. Pretty consistently there is a good feeling toward the school. There is concern about taxes because of the lull in aircraft construction but it is not a feeling against the school.
The report of the visiting committee was enthusiastic and the result was a five-year accreditation to the end of the school year 1964-1965.
On July 1, 1959, in California there were 28 junior college districts and 29 junior colleges associated with high school districts or unified districts. The Board of Trustees recognized certain advantages in keeping the junior college associated with the high school, but against these advantages (chiefly economic) they weighed the reasons why the divorce of the junior college from the high school district should be considered.
- The necessity of a study of unification which might result in the present high school district being broken up into two or more unified districts, thus robbing the junior college of its present broad economic tax base.
- The statewide trend to eliminate all associated type junior colleges, thus guaranteeing each junior college that it would obtain all extra money which might be appropriated by the Legislature.
- The strong desire of junior college faculties that they be completely divorced from being associated with other levels of education.
- The concern of some elementary school district Board of Trustees within the boundary of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District that they might lose their investment in the junior college if and when reorganization of high school and elementary school districts took place.
- High school districts contiguous to a separate junior college district might be joined to that district while they could not so join while the college was associated with the high school district.
For the above reasons, the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School Board of Trustees and their superintendent in 1959-1960 and 1960-1961 were looking forward to calling an election to establish a separate junior college district, thereby divorcing it entirely from the high school district.
In May 1960, Roy A. Knapp, after 27 years as superintendent of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District, asked the Board of Trustees to release him from his four-year contract and permit him to retire. His reasons for this request were: First, he was at retirement age, 65. Second, the increased workload in properly administering the school district; and third, to give the Board of Trustees ample time to select a successor without being rushed such as might happen if he had to retire unexpectedly for health reasons or otherwise. The monthly bulletin of the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools had the following to say (in part) of Superintendent Knapp’s retirement:
Dr. Roy A. Knapp, Superintendent of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District, will soon close an active career in public education which spans a 47-year period. His request to be released from the remaining two years of his contract effective June 30, 1960, was accepted by the Board of Trustees of the high school and junior college district with deep regret. In making the announcement of Dr. Knapp’s retirement, Board President George F. McNamee said: “It is with a sense of deep loss that the board accepts Dr. Roy A. Knapp’s request to release him from his contract. In his relationships with students, teachers, the public and the board, he has exemplified the highest ideals of the superintendency.” In another tribute, Dr. C.C. Carpenter, Assistant County Superintendent of Schools, described Dr. Knapp as “one of the outstanding superintendents of this county of all time.”
Over the past 27 years, when Antelope Valley’s central focus of attention was on the needs, problems and goals of high school or junior college education, occupying a key role in giving it meaning and direction was Dr. Roy A. Knapp.
As the board’s executive officer during the Antelope Valley’s jet-age population boom, he directed the district’s long-term expansion plans in educational offerings and physical plants.
He was always active in community affairs and in 1952 he received the Lancaster Junior Chamber of Commerce Award for community service and the following year received an honorary award for distinguished service from the Future Farmers of America.
At a testimonial dinner in 1956, he was honored for his work in public education and civic betterment, receiving a commendation from the California State Assembly.
Mr. James Riewer, who had served as principal of the Palmdale High School since it was opened, was selected by the Board of Trustees as Dr. Knapp’s successor. He served as superintendent of both high school and junior college for two years (1960-1961 and 1961-1962) until the junior college was formed into a separate junior college district.
Dr. Lowell F. Barker continued as president of the junior college during this same period of time.
The Board of Trustees called another election for May 23, 1961, requesting permission to raise the tax rate from $1.10 to $1.62 per $100 assessed wealth for a five-year period. The election carried by a large margin. The economic condition of Antelope Valley was improving.
The parents of high school students had been dissatisfied with the curtailed school program. The adults were anxious to have the extended day program of the junior college re-established. Because it was the high school district that received permission to increase its tax rate 52¢, the entire amount of the increase would remain with the high school district if and when a separate college district was formed. As a result of the increased tax rate many improvements in the school program, both high school and junior college, were made. The buildings on the new college site were ready for occupancy in May 1961, but the move of the junior college from the old temporary site to the new site was not made until after the close of the 1960-1961 school year.
The graduating exercises of the class of 1961 were held in the new college gymnasium and was the first use the college made of the new facilities.
On November 14, 1961, the new college was officially dedicated.
On December 12, 1961, an election was held. (1) To establish a separate junior college district. (2) To transfer the junior college share of bonded indebtedness to the new junior college district if the election was successful.
The election carried and on April 17, 1962, another election was held to select a Board of Trustees for the junior college district. 24 citizens filed their candidacy for the first board of trustees. They were as follows:
Ross W. Amspoker, Palmdale
Doane Brakemeyer, Quartz Hill
John D. Dermody, Lancaster
James H. Fulcher, Littlerock
Dr. Frank Grado, Lancaster
Dr. S. A. Lask, Lancaster
Lawrence J. Lee, Palmdale
Martin Letzer, Lancaster
Louis Massari, Lancaster
Thomas V. McGovern, Palmdale
Dr. Charles W. McQuarrie, Lancaster
Herman Mohling, Lancaster
Philip A. Pressgrove, Lancaster
Robert Primer, Littlerock
Jack B. Ross, Lancaster
Mrs. Cornelia A. Ruhl, Quartz Hill
Dr. Frank E. Schwartz, Lancaster
Philip Schwabacher, Lancaster
Glen A. Settle, Rosamond
Robert L. Street, Lancaster
Jack A. Varley, Quartz Hill
Charles A. Wolowicz, Lancaster
Dr. Milton Zack, Quartz Hill
Mrs. Charlotte Rupner, Lancaster
The first board elected from the 24 candidates was:
Ross W. Amspoker, Palmdale
Louis Massari, Lancaster
Mrs. Charlotte Rupner, Lancaster
Glen A. Settle, Rosamond
Chester A. Wolowicz, Lancaster
The junior college continued under the administration of Superintendent Riewer and the high school Board of Trustees until July 1, 1962. However, the new junior college board could organize on a temporary basis and make plans for the school year 1962-1963 and do so in the April 17 to July 1 interim. Upon organization they immediately and unanimously elected Dr. Lowell F. Barker as the first superintendent of the Antelope Valley Joint Union Junior College District. Dr. Barker was also to serve as president.
On January 25, 1962, while the high school Board of Trustees were still officially the governing body of the junior college they held a dedicatory ceremony naming the college library the “Roy A. Knapp Library.” The monthly bulletin of the County Superintendent of Schools says of this event:
With about 200 friends in attendance, formal dedication ceremonies for the Roy A. Knapp Library were held on Thursday, January 25, 1962, at the new Antelope Valley College campus. The library honors Dr. Knapp who served the district for 27 years in various capacities, most of the time as the superintendent, until his retirement in 1960. The cornerstone inscription reads in part:
Roy A. Knapp Library, named in honor of Dr. Roy A. Knapp... whose leadership made Antelope Valley College a reality.
In expressing appreciation, Dr. Lowell F. Barker, President of the College, stated, “During the many phases of planning the new campus for Antelope Valley College and in other developmental projects, Dr. Knapp was always strong in his support of a good library, adequate in space, well stocked with books, and comfortable in physical surroundings conducive to study.
Guest speaker at the dedicatory ceremonies was Dr. Bertram A. Betts, Assistant Superintendent of Finance, Los Angeles County Schools. Dr. Betts expressed high commendation and appreciation for local and state contributions to education made by Dr. Knapp. Other speakers were Mr. Gus Eliopulos, Member of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees, since 1946; and Mr. A. L. LoBuono, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the district.
The Address of Welcome was given by Mr. James Riewer, District Superintendent, and Mr. Charles M. Parker, President of the College Faculty Club, introduced the speakers. Mr. Alden B. Carder, President of the Board of Trustees, spoke on the naming of the building in honor of Dr. Knapp. Special features of the building were presented by Mr. Norton Nichols, Jr., Assistant Superintendent in Charge of Educational Services, who had over-all charge of the program.
Other participants in the program included the Antelope Valley College Band; the California Cadet Corps of Palmdale High School; the A Cappella Choir of Antelope Valley High School; and Mr. William Garcia, President, Associated Students, Antelope Valley College. Invocation was given by Rev. Edmund R. Warne, Pastor, Community Methodist Church; and Benediction by Rev. Charles Daechtler, Pastor, St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Dr. Knapp thanked the Board and his many friends. He said that because the library is the heart of the college and makes independent study possible, he is particularly proud to have the college library named after him.
On February 11, 1963, and during his first year as superintendent-president of the Antelope Valley College, Dr. Barker requested a release from his contract to enable him to accept a four-year contract as superintendent-President of the new Merced Junior College at Merced, California. Because of his experience and excellent record in the Antelope Valley College he was offered the opportunity to develop the new Merced Junior College. The Junior College Board of Trustees released Dr. Barker to take advantage of this new opportunity and promotion. Mr. Clyde McCully was appointed acting superintendent-president between the time that Dr. Barker left and the time when the Board of Trustees could select a new permanent superintendent-president.
Prior to the beginning of the school year 1963-1964 the Board of Trustees from a list of 44 candidates for the position of president superintendent of the Antelope Valley College, selected Dr. James M. Starr. Dr. Starr had been president of the Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington. He was chosen after a careful study was made of his qualifications and experience. Dr. Starr had obtained his B.A. degree in Economics and Business from the University of Washington; his M.A. degree at the same school. He had also received his PhD in Education at the University of Washington and had taken additional work at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Starr came to Antelope Valley College with an excellent record and a background of the kind of experience which was needed in Antelope Valley College.
The first problem which Dr. Starr had to solve was to operate the college within the 35¢ tax rate limitation. The 52¢ increase in tax rate voted in 1961 remained with the high school in its entirety. The legal limitation of tax rates for operating a separate junior college district was 35¢.
On the 8th day of November 1963, Dr. Starr was officially inaugurated as Superintendent-President of the Antelope Valley College.
Thus, the Antelope Valley Junior College had made the transition from 32 years of being associated with the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District and was established upon a new campus as a separate district under a junior college Board of Trustees and a new president, and was in a position to be ready for the growth which was sure to come in Antelope Valley.