In the early 1950s there were six school districts in the area between the two county seats of Crawford and Wyandot Counties. Antrim had no high school and Eden had recently lost its charter. Both were sending students grades 9-12 to the Nevada high school on a tuition basis.
Public schools operate under standards developed by the Ohio Department of Education. Each time these standards were revised it became increasingly more difficult for small schools to meet them. Unless the district had a very large tax base, it was difficult to provide the facilities needed for cafeterias, physical education, industrial arts, science, special education, home economics, music, art, and the library and to staff each. In the mid 1950s the State Department set a minimum enrollment for grades 9-12 at 240 with a recommended 400 students. Inspections became more frequent.
In our area, school consolidation became a common topic. Each school had three or four ways to consider. Some persons were very satisfied with the schools as they were and resisted any change. They had good reasons to resist. Many had graduated from the local school, had played on its teams, cheered them to victory, and loved their school very much. Some thought about the distance to a new school; some were concerned with the tax increase needed to construct and operate a new building.
The county boards and their respective superintendents were by law responsible for consolidating the schools, but they hesitated to take action. They wanted to keep all the territories to themselves, of course, always afraid some might go to a neighboring county or a city district. They caused some surveys to be made by consultants from state universities. One such survey included Mt. Zion, Nevada, Eden, and Antrim. The survey had no authority. It was only advisory. Most administrators recognized the need for reorganization, but no one wanted to hang the bell on the cat called consolidation. Such was the situation in this area in the spring of 1958.
Finally, at their June meeting the Nevada Board sent an invitation to the Holmes Liberty Board to meet with them and ask that the Mt. Zion Board be included. The reply was courteous, but the invitation was rejected. The Holmes Liberty Board then at its July meeting passed a resolution to submit a bond issue to the electorate of that district for the purpose of enlarging and modernizing the Holmes Liberty building. At the general election in November, that issue was defeated.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 1958, a young energetic superintendent was hired for the Crawford County Schools. His name was Edwin C. Treherne.
After the defeat of the Holmes Liberty bond issue and at the urging of the new county superintendent, the Nevada idea of a meeting of the boards came about. The first meeting of the six boards of education was held at Holmes Liberty on February 23, 1959. Calvin Fisher, president of the county board, presided. There was a local audience present who were welcome to participate in the discussion and did so freely. Two weeks later the group again met at Mt. Zion and was formally organized with James Leitzy as president and Luther Lust as executive secretary. The third meeting of the group was held at Lykens where it was agreed to put the issue of consolidation on the ballot at the next general election. Mr. Morton from the State Department helped the executive heads and board presidents to draw up the resolution which was taken to the State Board of Education who caused it to be placed on the local ballots. Eden and Antrim declined to go along at that time thinking that if it passed, they could join shortly.
Meetings of the four boards continued to be held to draw up promotional material. A trip of fifteen automobiles journeyed to Wapakoneta for our citizens to inspect a new building which was similar in size. A booklet was printed with information about the proposed district with a child's picture on the front cover. The booklet was distributed with a letter by a citizens' committee headed by Grove Welsh and Don Robinson. On November 7, 1959 the vote on consolidation passed at Mt. Zion and passed at Nevada, but failed at Holmes Liberty and Lykens. All the efforts of the boards and superintendents seemed naught.
However, in the school year 1959-1960 the Crawford County schools were due for an inspection. During that inspection, the Lykens High School failed to meet the standards to such an extent that their charter was revoked. This meant that funds from the State of Ohio would be discontinued and that they could no longer grant diplomas. This put the Lykens Board in in a very difficult situation. They did have the right to a hearing and scheduled one for April 12, 1960. They took a bold step by asking the county board to join at the Mt. Zion, Holmes Liberty, and Lykens districts before their hearing was able to take place. The boards of Mt. Zion and Holmes Liberty agreed to the proposal with the idea that it include Nevada as soon as possible. On April 11, 1960, the night before that hearing, the Crawford County Board consolidated the three districts. At the hearing, then, the Lykens Board was granted an extension for their charter for one year.
Seven days later, April 19, 1960 the Nevada Board asked the Wyandot County Board to transfer their district to the new district. Things seemed to be progressing after all.
However, this was not the case. The Wyandot County Board voted against the merger. Two petitions were immediately circulated in the Nevada district, one to merge with Upper Sandusky and one to join the new district in Crawford County. The petition to go to Crawford County was presented first to the board of elections and hence was on the ballot at the general election of 1960. The vote for the issue was 460 for and 256 against. This mandated the transfer of the Nevada district to Crawford County Board but the Crawford County Board, on February 21, 1961, voted 4 to 1 to accept the Nevada district. Shortly after the Nevada vote in favor of the new district, Mr. Treherne accepted the position in Montgomery County, but in the two in half years here, a lot had been accomplished for the organization in this area. He was replaced by Mr. Milton Harmon.
The first board of the new district then became Charles Pfeifer, Lester Markley, Herbert Stuckey, Robert Beal, Harold Eppley, and Helen Beidelschies, clerk. For superintendent they seleced William Donnenwirth and for principal, Luther Lust. The office of the superintendent was at the Holmes Liberty building. The schools were to operate as they were until a new building could be erected. From a large group of architects, Marr Knapp and Crawfis of Mansfield was seleced, probably because it was thought that a building similar to the one at Ontario which they had designed would meet our requirements.
In early 1961 it became one of the duties of the new principal with two board members to select a name for the district and school. Students were asked to submit names for the balloting. They were asked to consider a name that was distinctive and dignified, that would make them proud and that would fit into songs, banners, emblems, cheers, etc. Several students submitted a name made up from the names of the two counties. The committee adjusted it by removing a letter "a", calling it "Wynford". This name won on the fourth ballot. Incidentally, "Lincoln Heights" was in second place. Thirteen students are known who submitted the winning name of Wynford and each received a silver dollar and a letter. For colors the students chose royal blue and silver and the teams were called the "Royals".
A building costing $1,242,000 was proposed along with a natatorium on a separate ballot. An information booklet with a picture of the mock-up of the building was distributed by a citizens committee headed by Robert Whitmeyer. The building was approved 1140 for and 742 against, but the natatorium failed by 200 votes and was never proposed again.
Early in 1962 a site was selected with the help of a consultant. The board had four options--the present location, directly across the road, one mile north, and one mile west on the north side of Route 30. The bids were let early in 1962. Construction began that summer. The Lykens and Holmes Liberty students were combined for the 1962-63 school year with grades 7 and 8 at Lykens and grades 9-12 at Holmes Liberty. The main task of the board became selecting furniture, floor coverings, equipment for science laboratories, home economics, bleachers, etc. and staying within the bond issue. The school opened for classes September 9, 1963 with 451 students and 24 teachers, teaching 106 classes. The gym was finished in October and the building was dedicated on Sunday, November 24, 1963 with Congressman Jackson E. Betts as the speaker. Eden merged with Upper Sandusky and Antrium was partitioned.
It was also necessary to form a new athletic conference. The present North Central Conference as strongly promoted because the schools were of similar size and had good facilities. Wynford began participation in basketball immediately and in football in 1965-66. Wynford joined the new formed N10 athletic league in 2014.
In the 1977-78 school year, after the resignation of William Donnenwirth, the second superintendent came to Wynford. Mr. Kent Yeager was in the district for two years. Mr. Robert Taylor came to the district in 1979-80 and was the superintendent until December 1992. Mr. James McKinley was the interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year. Dr. Charles Barr came to Wynford in August 1993 and served as the superintendent until he resigned to take another position in 2001. Mrs. Judy Howard Rhode served as interim superintendent until the school board hired Mr. Samuel Preston in October of 2001. Mr. Steve Mohr was hired in 2006 to replace Mr. Preston after his retirement. Mr. Mohr retired in December of 2015 and Mr. Fred Fox was hired as his replacement.
Mr. Luther Lust was the first principal at Wynford High School. He retired after the 1969-70 school year. Mr. Don Miller succeeded Mr. Lust and served as high school principal through the 1987-88 school year. Next, Mr. Ken Baker became the high school principal for three years. Following Mr. Ken Baker was Mr. Scott Langenderfer who has served at Wynford since August 1991. Mr. Dave Dotson was hired as the high school principal beginning with the 2008-2009 school year. Dave Dotson left the district in 2013 and Jeff Holbrook became the high school principal at that time.
In the summer of 1982 one of the biggest changes took place. Mt. Zion became the Wynford Middle School for grades 6 through 8. Lykens became Wynford North, and Nevada became Wynford South. Both have students through 3rd grade. Holmes Liberty is now the Wynford Intermediate School for grades 4th, 5th, and 6th. In 1991-92 the Wynford Middle School was forced to close down because of furnace problems sending the 6th graders to Holmes Liberty and the 7th and 8th graders to the high school. In the summer of 1992, the modular units were installed as classrooms connected to the high school for students in grades seven and eight.
The new elementary school, which is on property adjacent to the high school, opened for students for the 2000-2001 school year.
Today we are grateful to all those persons who have contributed so much to the formation and operation of this school, but we are most proud of the 2500 young people who have really given meaning to the name Wynford since 1963. They are now in charge of our society and are doing well. They farm our fields, treat our illnesses, research our aircrafts, scrutinize our defense department, design out machines, teach our children, dispense our medicines, run our businesses, enforce our laws, establish justice, forecast our economy, make our manufactured products, erect our buildings, protect our nation, and many other endeavors to give us this great civilization.
Now with continued good educational leadership and with our support we know the next quarter century will be even greater and to that new generation we wish to rededicate the Wynford School System.