School District 15
This article was submitted by Michele Jones, Executive Director of the Evans Area Chamber of Commerce.
January the 24th, 1870, about two months after the town was founded, School District 15 was established by the county.
The new district took in all of Sections 19, 20, 29 and 30 in Township 5, Range 65 West.
Daniel J. Fulton was then Superintendant of Schools.
Classes apparently were held in homes or in public buildings for awhile. In 1874 or 1875, the first permanent school was built, a two story stone one. Teachers were usually wives of the early settlers who had completed high school in the East but seldom had college training.
This school was replaced in 1927 by the East Chappelow School and had two major additions since then. The city of Evans recently purchased the building and it will house all of the city offices.
The school was named for Mrs. Loretto Chappelow who came to Evans in 1922 to teach in the old building. She recalled that when the first strong wind came up, her students told her that the school was not safe and that they had to evacuate. When she led her class from the building, there was a burst of laughter. The children had “put one over on the teacher”. Others who attended school there said that there supposedly was a standing order to evacuate the building in case of high winds and described watching the building sway.
Elementary and high school classes both were held in the first building but the high school was abandoned in 1908 when enrollments dropped below economic levels. For many years students were graduated from Greeley High School with the Evans district paying tuition.
At the time the new school was completed, classes were held in various locations about town including Young’s Hall, the bank and in homes.
Early in the 1950’s a concerted effort was made to obtain a high school for the town. In 1953 the Chappelow West was completed as a combined junior-senior high school. First classes were held there on Oct. 26, 1953.
Completion of the high school seemed to pull the community together and acted as a strong agent in activating growth in the community. It produced several championship basketball, baseball and football teams.
Hard times gain came upon Evans in the early 1960’s and Superintendant Don Bennett, realizing that teacher salaries were below those of surrounding districts, that schools needed equipment and that the assessed valuation of the district was far below other comparable districts, tried in vain to get the State Department of Education and the State Tax Commission to authorize higher tax levies. Finally the district was forced to join the Greeley system; this worked well for a few years. Then the blow came.
Greeley had recently completed its second high school and was looking for the best way to divide up the school population between Greeley Central and Greeley West. The school administration looked at the 170 students of Evans High and compared the opportunities they had with those of the 1,000 student Greeley Central. The Greeley school board studied the problem for several months, held meetings with Evans residents and finally voted 3-2 to close Evans High.
Evans residents, recalling the battle to get their high school and the economic and social advantages the school had lent to the community, refused to take the decision lying down. They went to court in an attempt to dissolve the original consolidation and to put the old District 15 back in business. Their efforts failed to convince the District Court, however, and the ruling stood.
Typical of the devotion to students, was the loyalty and effort that Mrs. Loretto Chappelow displayed. She retired from Evans schools in 1958 after 36 years. After that, she added another 11 years as a librarian at the two schools, increasing her tenure to nearly half a century. Old graduates affectionately called her “Chappy”. Mrs. Chappelow began teaching in the first school building in 1922, was promoted to principal and served that capacity for 22 years. Her counsel and advice was sought, not only by students, but also by professional educators of the area. Mrs. Chappelow passed away in 1970 at the age of 78.