The first edition of the Echo, St. Louis Park’s High School newspaper, was issued on October 6, 1916. A copy of that first issue, called The School Echo, is on file at the high school. Officers were:
Editor-in-Chief: Winifred Fox
Assistant Editors: Lloyd Hatch, Elizabeth Colwell
Society: Mary Emma Taggart
Literary: Jack Downing
Athletic: Henry Jensen
Business Manager: Ion Hanke
The first issue had a “jaunty green cover,” was 12 pages long, and carried news of high school, grade school, and village events. It bore this verse:
The School Echo is my name as you can see,
I hope you have a dime so you can look at me;
I’m not very old, but for wisdom I am famed,
If my words drive you mad, I suppose I’ll be blamed;
I’m not very big and I’m not very small,
But I’m a whole lot better than no paper at all.
Eight issues were published in 1916-17.
The following is from an article in the St. Louis Park Echo from May 27, 1976 written by Howard Milstein, Rori Wilensky and Tim Zuel
Two score and 19 years ago Ms. Winifred Fox Fletcher was on her way to school to fulfill her job as Editor-in-chief of the St. Louis Park ECHO. At that time the high school building was located where Central Junior High is now.
In the morning, the school’s 8-12 classes collected in the assembly hall for announcements.
Ms. Fletcher recalled one day when her English teacher mentioned that a school newspaper would be an interesting project. After Ms. Fletcher was appointed Editor, she acquired a room which they christened the ECHO Press Room.
The ECHO started as a pamphlet that covered school gossip and sports events. The gossip in 1917 was limited since the average class size ranged from 15-20 students. The gossip usually contained information on school events. The sports section covered the Park basketball team which was the only outstanding varsity team of the period.
The most unique thing about the ECHO issues of 1917 was the joke section. “I’m afraid the jokes would be too tame for these days,” Ms. Fletcher reflected.
Ms. Fletcher’s staff consisted of five people, all of whom chipped in to publish the ECHO. The paper carried local ads for stores that were scattered along Walker Street.
Days were long ones back then since there were only two modes of transportation. The first was the street car which ran from Reeses’ (sic), down Lake Street to downtown. The other was walking. Ms. Fletcher walked 1.5 miles to school from her home, which was near Brookside School.
She spent hours in the ECHO room writing copy and designing layouts and then walked 45 minutes home. The reason? “Because it was fun,” she said, “besides during the winter a friend of mine had a sleigh hooked up to a team so I saved on the walking.”
As Ms. Fletcher sat during the graduation ceremony of the class of ’17, of which she was valedictorian, she wondered what would happen to the ECHO. As she looks at it today, she says she is very proud.
In 1917-1918, a section was added with news of Park servicemen in World War I, a humor column, illustrations and photographs.
The eight issues of 1918-1919 were printed, but in subsequent years the paper was mimeographed.
The 1930 – 1931 Echo was printed monthly by the publishers of the Hennepin County Review, in Hopkins.
In the 1933 – 1934 school year, only one printed issue was produced.
In September 1939 the paper changed styles to a tabloid size that would remain for decades.
Winifred Fox’s daughter, Jean Fletcher, was co-editor of the paper in 1945-46.
In 1950 the Echo won the Dillman Award, given to the best high school newspaper in rural Hennepin County. The award was sponsored by the Rural Hennepin Editorial Association in memory of Willard Dillman. This was the first year that the Dillman Award had been given.
The Echo also won the Dillman Award in 1951 and 1952.
The Echo was named All-American for the spring 1969 school year. This was the 12th straight semester that the Echo had received this honor.
In October 1969 an alternative paper called the St. Louis Park Current was circulated, touted as “independent student journalism.” It apparently did not catch on.
In October 2016, the Dow Jones News Fund named St. Louis Park High School English teacher and Echo adviser Lori Keekley the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Keekley had served as Echo adviser for 15 years.
“I am humbled and honored to represent media advisers,” Keekley said in a news release. “It’s an opportunity to showcase the ways media advisers empower students to create great work and to show the difference they make in their schools and communities. “Other awards received by the Echo under Keekley’s guidance include the First Amendment Press Freedom Award.
Keekley will receive a plaque and laptop computer for her class, to be presented at the Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association convention on November 12, 2016, in Indianapolis. Her award also includes a $1,000 scholarship for a senior at the high school. Through her award, Keekley will also have access to webinars at the Poynter Institute.
“Lori Keekley has done all the right things to distinguish herself as a media adviser and teacher,” Linda Shockley, Dow Jones News Fund managing director, said in a release. “She shines through her work with her students and in service to the broader profession.”
Thanks to some recent donations by the High School and the efforts of SLP HS member Don Schimmel, our collection of Echoes has grown. Click Here for an inventory as of October 2016. As you can see there are some gaping holes, so if you are interested in donating your collection for preservation by the Historical Society, please contact us. Thanks!