Then & Now - 95 years, Roaming the Halls of Kennett
By: Saralyn Smith
On September 15, 1923, a dedication took place with 800 residents from Conway and surrounding towns. This ceremony was to present the keys to Kennett High School to William Carter, town treasurer. Mr. Carter in return presented the keys to Arthur Furber representing the school board and asked for the co-operation of the townspeople in managing this wonderful gift from A. Crosby Kennett. Just 2 days later, thirty-six students enrolled as Seniors at A. Crosby Kennett High School. This school was to bring an enlarged corps of instructors, permitting advance work and a wider range of courses in language and literature, special courses in domestic science and splendid opportunities for practical and manual training. As well as athletics and all extra curriculum activities were greatly improved.
Fifteen years later (1938-1939) Kennett began busting at the seems, enrollment was up, due to the baby boom after the war and an addition was needed. Over a two year period, two additions were added. Giving more classrooms, a new gym with theater area and locker rooms to the student body.
In 1963-64 the student body and faculty were looking forward to much easier and less hectic school life with the completion of another new wing. During the year all eyes were on the new addition being constructed at the west end of Kennett High School. This would be the 3rd addition since opening their doors. This addition was being built to temporarily answer the acute problem of limited space. The new addition included classrooms, badly needed science laboratories, offices, a larger and improved library, a cafeteria and a conference room.
Fast forward 40 years (1978-1979)… two more additions were added to the rear of the school, adding on the Karl Seidenstuecker Gym, Music & Band Rooms and in the following year the Vocational Wing, which would house the Career & Technical Classrooms.
Kennett High School has seen a lot of improvements and renovations over its 95 years but the biggest was when the Town of Conway voted to build a new high school in 2003. The school was overpopulated, there were 8 portable classrooms taking up the rear part of the school and there was no more room for additions.
Construction for the new and improved Kennett High School began in 2005 in a new location known as Pine Hill in Redstone. This meant huge renovations to the original A.Crosby Kennett High School that would become A. Crosby Kennett Middle School.
In September 2007 the first class of the new Kennett High School walked through the doors of the new location and renovations started on A. Crosby Kennett Middle School. The renovations at the middle school took about 2 years to complete! No additions were added but the plan to bring some nostalgia back to the school was the vision for many. The greenhouse and portables was taken down and replaced by grass. The driveway between the cafeteria and gymnasium was also grassed over. Classrooms, the lecture hall, and the gymnasium were updated.
The plan was for the middle school to use 86,000 sq. ft. of the 167,500 sq. ft. area. The remaining 81,500 sq. ft in the oldest part of the building would remain unoccupied. While the vocational wing would be taken over by the SAU and would house offices, maintenance facility, a professional development center and a conference room for all SAU 9 employees.
The oldest part of the building remained unoccupied until 2018 when the Town of Conway voted to lease the building to the Conway Parks and Recreation Department. This building would be used to house sports for the elementary students, a teen center for grades 6-8 to go to during after school hours and the summer programs for students ages 6-14.
The vision for the Conway Rec was to bring the school back to all its glory. Restoring the 1940-1978 gym and stage that was covered by classrooms in the late ’70s was just one of their goals. Conway Rec is hoping to open their new doors this summer.
Ninety-five years have past since A. Crosby Kennett High School opened its door in 1923 and its a beautiful thing to see it come back to life with people wanting to restore it to its original beauty.
KHS was a home away from home for all us at one point in our lives and we want to invite anyone who wishes to walk the halls once again to please let us know by emailing the alumni at firstname.lastname@example.org.