By Matthew Soper July 2003
The first graduating class from Delta High School was that of 1889 and consisted of two students, Jacob Cowan, step-son of Enos Hotchkiss, and Ada McMurray, who later became Delta County Superintendent of Schools. Jacob Cowan became the first Delta High School graduate to attend and Ivy League University. He graduated from Cornell University. Upon graduation, Cowan became a member of the faculty, but died suddenly before assuming his post.
At first, Delta High only consisted of two years. In 1892 a third year was added, and finally in 1900 the fourth year was added, completing the normal high school course. By 1892 the high school had grown enough to be able to add a football and a basketball program.
In 1905 Delta won its first Western Slop Football Championship. Also the same year, the school added baseball, girls’ basketball, a chorus club, and orchestra.
In 1907 Delta High School’s basketball and football teams were named Western Slope Champions. The following year, in 1908, Delta became an affiliate of the North Central Association of Colleges and High Schools. This was not the only major event to happen that year. The High School moved into the newly completed Lincoln School building. High School was only taught in that building for 12 years.
From the very beginning of the high school, academics came first before athletics. This became even more apparent in 1910 when Delta High School was presented with the Loving Cup by the Rhetorical Association of Eastern Colorado.
In 1921 the high school was moved to a brand new building on Grand Avenue That same year a movement was started to allow the students a chance to govern school activities. That movement grew and by 1924 Delta High School elected its first student body president, Alice Rupp.
During the war years, many students went off to join the service. This took its toll on Delta’s athletic program; however, Delta High School saw its first basketball state championship in 1945. Also, during this war time, in order to help the war effort, no annuals were published. Instead, a little booklet called “The Pantherette” was published. These included class lists and a brief discussion about the events that took place that year.
The 1960s were known as Delta High’s big sports years. It was at Panther Field that two back to back state baseball championships were won. Also, during 1960, Delta won a glorious football state title.
Four different buildings have been called home for Delta High School: Central School (1884-1907), Lincoln School (1908-1920), Delta Middle School (1921-1981), and Delta High School (1982-Present).
Director, Delta County Historical Society and Museum