Rich traditions denote 45 years of East Carbon High
Prior to 1959, students in what were then the towns of Dragerton, Sunnyside and Columbia commuted to Price to attend Carbon High in the 11th and 12th grades. Until they were that age students attended Peterson Elementary through 10th grade. That commute to Price was no longer necessary after the completion of East Carbon High School in 1959.
The school was erected in 1958 on 40 acres donated by the Kaiser Steel Corporation, which was then a driving economic factor for the town of 9,000. A bond for $2.5 million allowed for the construction of both East Carbon High and Carbon High the same year. Prior to that time, all Carbon High students attended classes in facilities shared with what was then Carbon College.
The other large contributer in the community, U.S. Steel teamed up with Kaiser to build an indoor, heated pool at the East Carbon facility. In 1963, an addition to the high school was made with the completion of a tennis court.
In the time between 1958 and now, the town of Dragerton was disolved with the creation of East Carbon City. Both Kaiser and U.S. Steel have shut down operations. And the once booming mining community has dwindled from a population of 9,000 to roughly 1,800.
But debates surrounding the decision to build the school were as heated and poignant as they are today with the decision to close the school after four and a half decades. And many of the debates in the late '50s involved the same issues that fuel arguments on both sides of the issue now.
Both then and now, parents were concerned about their children traveling daily along a major highway to get to and from school. And then, just like today, the change in academic and athletic programs created an array of views, some in favor of East Carbon High, and some in opposition.
"If they hadn't built the high school, we would have had two or three state championships that year at Carbon High," said Ronald Ross, a member of the first East Carbon High graduating class of 1960.
Ross explained that year the two schools had eight all-state athletes: five in football and three in basketball.
"We had an exceptional group," said Ross.
Ross recalled that early in its history, East Carbon had made the Jack Parr Show, which Johnny Carson would later take over.
East Carbon was playing San Juan in an away game of football. A snowstorm had kept officials from making it down from the Wasatch Front. The Vikings were doing so well that year, that they had no problem when the principal at San Juan asked if it would be all right to play with officials from San Juan.
The officials were administrators and two assistant coaches for San Juan, who made so many bad calls, that at the end of the game, the powerhouse Vikings were down by six.
A player from San Juan lost the ball when the gun went off signaling the end of the game. East Carbon picked up the live ball and ran in for a touchdown.
"Fights broke out in the stands. There was a melee for 20 minutes before we got the extra point," said Ross.
With the point after touchdown good, the Vikings won the game. But it had turned into such a brawl, that it eventually gained recognition by one of the leading entertainment talk shows of the era.
By the time the school was 10 years old, the Vikings had earned two region titles in football and played in both semifinal and quarterfinal games in the state playoffs. Basketball had won two region titles and played in the state class B tournaments in 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1968. In those years, all schools in the state were classified into one of two classes. Class A schools were larger than 600, while class B schools were smaller.
Track and field also had an impressive history after 10 years, having won region finals five times and placing second in state playoffs twice. In addition, wrestling had gained a few trophies as many wrestlers had gained high state rankings.
In the years since then, both athletic and academic competitions have garnered trophies which grace the halls of the high school.
In 1969 and 1970, Viking tennis took the region championship. Junior Varsity basketball gained a region title in 1970. In 1971, the football team lost a state semifinal game to Beaver High, 6-42. In 1974, those numbers would come back to haunt the Vikings as they were eliminated by South Summit High in the quarterfinal round, 6-42.
In the 1975-76 school year, basketball took fourth in the state and baseball gained the region title. In 1977 and 1978, baseball would advance to take second in state playoffs.
In more recent years, baseball has taken region titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Wrestling took a region title in 1991. In 2002, girls volleyball took second in the region.
Since the early 1990s, debate and drama at East Carbon have brought home region trophies. Drama took second in state in 1990, first in 1991 and second in 1992. Drama again took state competitions in the late 1990s, taking second in 1996, first in 1998 and second in 1999. Forensics took second in state in 1991.
Students at East Carbon had established many traditions by the time the school was 10 years old, some of which have survived to the current classes day. Some traditions established early in the history of the school included the Get Acquainted Dance, Mardi Gras, the Christmas Dance, the Roaring Twenties, a Sweetheart's Ball, Junior Prom, Preference Ball and a Graduation Dance.
Homecoming has evolved into one of the biggest events of East Carbon High School, a tradition started by early classes that attended the school. The student handbook for the class of 1968-69 explained, "Extensive preparations are involved for the assembly, game, and dance which are all a part of the festivities to welcome home the alumni."
Other traditions which began in the first 10 years included a Girls Day, when the home economics department hosted an assembly, fashion show, tea and dance in May; Senior Sluff Day, a day when seniors and their advisers left school for a day to visit a location of the graduates' choice; and a senior tea, an occasion to which faculty, seniors and their parents were invited in honor of the graduates.