ELKTON — In 1934, Elkton High School’s newspaper became The Wapiti.
The word “wapiti” means elk and is from the Shawnee and Cree word “waapiti.” The historical society only has three copies of this paper, all from 1934. The Wapiti did not last long. In the next decade, the Elhisco was born.
The third school newspaper of Elkton High School was named the Elhisco, published in December 1940. A school-wide contest was held to name the new school newspaper. Francis Strahorn and Ashton Brown combined Elkton, High, and School to create the name Elhisco. They received a free subscription to the newspaper for their efforts.
Volume 1 Issue 1 of the Elhisco contained short reports about community and school organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, Collins Dance School and school sports teams. One article on the front page noted that the girls’ basketball team was the largest team yet. Members of the girls’ team included Betty Hudson, Betty Steele, Elaine George, Pauline McIntire and Bunny Williams. The October school dance was sponsored by the senior class and cost 25 cents “stag or drag.” Ruth Bower was elected president of the student council. Mary Alagia was elected vice-president, Carl Feucht was elected secretary and Betty Kerr was elected treasurer. Robert Boulden won the grand prize, a small personal radio, for winning the annual magazine campaign for the third year in a row. The campaign raised $180 for the school.
Advertisements in this first issue included The Elkton Hotel, E. May Murray, Lee Motor Company, Minster’s Jewelers, Elk Landing Dairy, Triumph Explosives, Elkton Supply Company (“Sponsor of The Shadow radio show!”), and Eder’s (“Elkton’s leading food market”).
Other issues for the school year included articles about new clubs being formed, fashion reports, sports results and dances. One gossip column that appeared was “Lookin’ Around With Bates and Brown.” In February 1941, the columnists asked “Could the movies in Elkton have a defective heating system? We’ve noticed several pairs nestled together, the boys holding the poor shivering girls in their brawny arms.” Another column asked “Anne and Bunny visit Washington College quite often. Do they go there just to see their brothers?” Issues of the paper proclaimed “Beat Rising Sun!” and “Join a Club!”
The cheerful, carefree attitude of the newspaper continued throughout the school year and into the beginning of the 1941-1942 school year. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the tone of the school paper changed.
The banner on the front page now proclaimed “Buy War Stamps!” instead of “Beat Rising Sun!” Many graduates were working at Triumph Explosives, Aberdeen Proving Ground and Continental Fiber. Former student Anne Collins was “boosting soldiers’ morale” by performing with the Rockettes. Patriotic Orvella Mills worked at Triumph at night and attended high school during the day.
Another effect of World War II was the suspension of interscholastic sports in 1942. The October Elhisco announced: “Due to tire and gasoline rationing, Maryland schools do not have interscholastic sports. Therefore, the classes will have separate teams. In these grave times, it is necessary for high school students to get the most out of their school sports, not only to keep up the morale of the ones participating, but of the many spectators as well.”
A feature named “With the Armed Forces” appears in November 1943. The column reported on former students who are home on furlough or those who have received a promotion. In December 1943, it was reported that Pascal DiPaola had arrived in the South Pacific safely and that Cpl. Vincent DiPaola was stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The January 1944 issue reports that Ensign F. Reed Hartnett, of the U.S. Naval Reserves, had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant and was spending a few days with his parents on Howard Street in Elkton.
An assembly was held on April 4, 1944, to dedicate an honor roll plaque to remember former students who had been killed in action in the war. The assembly was organized by teacher Katharine Bratton. Names on the honor roll included were Francis Hoover, Walter Boulden, F. Reed Hartnett and William Charles Keithly. The Elhisco had just reported in January that Hartnett had visited his family in Elkton.
The content of the Elhisco gradually became more cheerful as the war ended. Sports scores were reported as interscholastic sports returned. School plays were held and students held dances and proms. The January 1948 issue advertised a “Sadie Hawkins Dungaree Dance.” The cost was 35 cents and the newspaper advised “Girls, be sure to get your men early!”
The Elhisco was the source of news for the patriotic student body of Elkton High School. Teenagers of the 1940s faced the hardships of war. Parent, siblings and friends were defending our country at home and overseas. Looking back at these newspapers provides the reader with an intimate glimpse into the lives of teenagers during the traumatic time.