East High School celebrates 100 years

Published: Friday, Sept. 20 2013 3:35 p.m. MDT

Historic East High School photo, dated Feb. 14, 1914.

Salt Lake City School District

SALT LAKE CITY — Lisa Harrison remembers walking into East High School on her first day as a freshman student in 1987.

She remembers passing through the front doors and being greeted by marble hallways. She also remembers the embarrassment she felt soon after, when she realized she had just violated a school tradition.

"The rule was only seniors went in the front doors on the first day of school," she said. "That was just an unspoken law."

Harrison, a third-generation East High Leopard and member of the graduating class of 1991, said that even now — more than two decades and a new building later — she still feels a connection to the school.

"It’s one of those things that just doesn’t go away," she said. "Every time I drive by, I see the kids and I absolutely feel a fondness and a loyalty there."

This weekend, East High School is celebrating a significant milestone as the school enters its 100th year in operation. Several events were planned in connection to the school's homecoming football game Friday night against Highland High School, including an alumni assembly, parade and halftime fireworks show. The school's homecoming dance will also be held Saturday.

East High School was Salt Lake School District's second high school after West High School opened in 1890 as Salt Lake High. Construction on the original East High School began in 1912, with the current building being constructed in 1997, district spokesman Jason Olsen said.

With two of the district's high schools having now reached a centennial year, Olsen said that while much has changed, schools and education are as vital now as they ever have been.

"Public education is still very much a needed part of the community," he said. "It was back then and it is today and we just hope to continue the tradition for another 100 years."

Before he was a U.S. congressman, Rep. Jim Matheson was a member of the East High class of 1978. As a senior, he organized a nearly 1,800-person game of musical chairs, which took several hours to whittle down to a winner and earned the school an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

"We borrowed all kinds of folding chairs and filled the football field and played music from the roof of the school," he said. "The record has since been broken, but I have the 1978 edition where Utah was listed."

Matheson said he still checks the paper to see how the East High School football team is faring. He described the current roster as a "powerhouse," in much better shape than when he played tight end for the school.

"We had a good time, but we did not win many games," he recalled.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

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