Decatur High School Co Education

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Unless you’ve actually chosen to attend an all-girls or all-boys high school, co-ed schools are the default in this day and age.  In fact, co-education is so taken for granted that hearing of attendance in single-gender schools prompts responses such as: “Why would you want to go there?” and “Doesn’t it get tiring being around only girls all the time?” or “I could never do that!

It used to be that the thought of mixing young men and women in places of education was somewhat controversial.  This was just one change among many that is now assumed, but at one point had to be introduced, tested, and tweaked.  In a student publication of Decatur High School, dated October 1952, the shift to co-education was a topic that was receiving lots of attention.  Here are some student perspectives on the change:



Mamas cried for it, papas fussed for it, teachers and principals argued the pros and cons about it, and the boy and girls didn’t have much to say, but here it is – the bobby sox invasion.

Some boys seemed a little put out to think that the girls were to invade on their masculine inner sanctum.  Military, their last stronghold, gave way to the onslaught of a few prospective wacs.  Other boys were delighted at the idea of having classes with the girls, and even took to dancing with the girls at phys. ed.  Maybe we can soon have a co-ed home ec. class for those boys who are gifted at the art of sewing and cooking.

At any rate, the boys are being exposed to the art of good housekeeping methods.  It even might become necessary for the boys to keep their desks clean of paper and bring sissy flowers to school.

The very first year of co-ed is working just fine.  First assembly the boys herded to one side of the auditorium and the girls on the other as for protection.  Gradually, however, the ice was broken and the boys succumbed to to the girls’ giggling and “He said,” and “She said,” and “Oh, don’t you think he’s cute.”

Somehow I increasingly find my mind wandering from the curves and angles of geometry book to other curves and angles.

Seriously, co-education is working fine.  We all like it and should come to like it still more as we go through the years.



How did we ever survive before co-education?  School without boys?  Never again.  Being a girl stationed in the North Building, I sometimes feel as though I am barging in on the boys, especially when I dumbly smile through a roar of laughter from the boys because a common joke of later years has just been cracked by the teacher.

Of course we will have a hard time getting used to being lady-like at all times (even in our gym suits) I believe the boys are having the same trouble being gentlemanly as you can plainly see during the changing of classes.  The boys dash madly through the halls, forgetting that there are feminine little souls running around, who will be counted late also or might even be counted absent because of the injuries they received from the not-yet tame boys.  But then who expects us to act entirely civilized at first.

We girls always thought boys did not have bat-brains and never did any work.  Aren’t we surprised to find out that they’re as smart as we are if not even smarter, although we hate to admit it.

Really, though, I think the pep rallies are more fun and school in general is much more exciting, but just as hard as ever.  Although this first year may be a little tough, we can always look back in later years and remember way back when….


Personal Experience

I walked down the long dark hall.  All about me I heard the patter of thousands of feet.  Occasionally I caught sight of a human form in the gloom.  After wandering for what seemed like ages, I went into a dimly lit room, but I was stopped on the threshold by the strange atmosphere that filled the room.  What was it?  I could not define the sensation.  I decided to seek aid from others.

But alas, vainly I looked about me for a friend.  Oh, for just one familiar face.  But I was not alone in my dismay.  Each of my fellow inmates seemed as lost as I.  They were huddled together in little groups, not talking, and yet clinging together as for protection.  At last I found what I had been looking for.  Like a 600-watt bulb a light flashed inside my fevered brain.  I looked at the other occupants with compassion.  Poor things – it was a shock for them, but perhaps the strongest would survive.  Yes, you’ve guessed it.  Co-education had come to Decatur High School.

Created by Sophia Malikyar


Information gathered from:

“Five Views on Co-education,” The Scribbler 17, no. 1 (1952): 3.

Contact DeKalb History Center