The Origin and History of Onarga Military School
In the spring of 1863, representatives from several villages in the territories adjoining Onarga, met to decide upon the type of educational institution needed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ministers of the district, laymen and others interested in the advancement of educational advantages, were responsible for the movement to establish such a school. Thus Grand Prairie Seminary came into being and was incorporated as such on July 18, 1863.
The enrollment started with 36 students in 1863 and gradually grew to a peak of 655 in 1904. As accredited high schools were being built in nearby communities the enrollment gradually grew smaller. In 1916-17 the school had shrunk to 55 students. In 1917 the school gained a new lease on life by being changed to a boy's military school.
Onarga Military School led by United States Army Brigadier General J. E. Bittinger, with his educational "know how" and devotion to an ideal, put a new look on the Onarga scene. Cadets replaced coeds; the bugle replaced the school bell, but the lamp of learning was retained to remind both students and faculty that the primary purpose remained the same.
In 1919-1920 twenty-five cadets stood formation. The next year the figure doubled. It was not until the year 1924-25 that the enrollment passed the 100 mark.
Onarga Military School was primarily a college preparatory school, and as such it followed a curriculum designed to meet the needs of boys who expected to enter college. Inasmuch as the boys were away from home, it was the policy of the school to provide the kind of training that should be found in a good home.
Onarga Military School continued operation until the graduating class of 1972.
(The information contained in this historical accounting is taken from the
1863-1963 centennial booklet produced by Lt. Col. T. M. Frazier in 1963)
Web site and all contents © Copyright OMS Alumni Association 2006, All rights reserved.
Free website templates