Dickinson County Community High School (DCCHS)
Chapman, Kansas, 1887

Dickinson County High School at Chapman is an institution whose history is of exceptional interest, for it was the first county high school to be established in the United States. In the winter of 1886, at the session of the Kansas State Legislature, a provision was passed enabling any county in the state having a population of 6,000 inhabitants or more to establish a county high school.

The purpose of the county high school would be to afford "better education facilities for pupils more advanced than those attending district schools, and for persons who desire to prepare themselves for the vocation of teaching," according to the general history recorded in the First Annual Catalogue of the Dickinson County High School.

This provision was supported by the best educators in the state who believed that every county should have a school which could be the link between district schools and the state institutions of higher learning, according to the First Annual Catalogue.

The location of the school was chosen to be at Chapman for many reasons, according to the First Annual Catalogue. Chapman was well known throughout the county. It had "good drainage and very good water". In addition, the community was "energetic and progressive," able to help in making the high school a great success.

The religious denominations of both Catholic and Protestant Churches were well represented. There were boarding places and rooms for self-boarding pupils of the school (which involved providing only an unfurnished room and no meals). The parents were able to have no fear of their sons or daughters being injured in the city of Chapman, according to the catalogue.

The location of the county high school being at Chapman was also a political move. In return for Abilene's support of Chapman as the first county high school, Chapman supported the idea of a branch of the railroad stopping in Abilene.

Three courses of study were provided--the Normal Course, General Course, and the College Preparatory Course (which was divided into the classical or scientific and literary programs). All students were urged to take the entire first year's study in the Normal or General courses before entering the College Preparatory course.

The first year, 1889, there were 137 students enrolled, a figure much larger than expected. A few years later the building was enlarged to accommodate the steadily increasing enrollment. The initial principal was S.M. Cook. The initial instructors were S.M. Cook, mathematics, Latin, and Greek; D.F. Shark, natural sciences, bookkeeping, German, and penmanship; H.N. Gaines, elocution, physiology, and constitution; Mrs. M. Cook, English grammar, literature, history, and French; and Miss Schmitz, music.

In 1933 the State Legislature passed a law permitting all students residing in the school district to be transported to and from school by means of buses. This increased the enrollment to 400 and the faculty to 23 members.

A special election was held Tuesday, May 5, 1959, and the people of the district voted to erect a new high school building. This new building, dedicated on November 7, 1961, included classrooms, administrative rooms, a multipurpose room, and auditorium.

In 1920 there were 123 rural school districts within the area served by the Dickinson County Community High School district. During the period from 1920 to 1966 this number of rural districts had been reduced to eleven. On July 1, 1966, the eleven elementary schools and the high school united into one Unified School District, USD 473. At this time, they also renamed the high school from Dickinson County Community High School to Chapman High School. At this time there were 105 teachers and 1,736 students in the district. Five hundred thirty of these students were enrolled in the high school.

The Unified School District 473 and its patrons are proud to say that it is their desire to provide for the children the best educational facilities possible in order for them to attain knowlege and secure their future at Chapman High School!