When the doors to the Cherokee Orphan Asylum opened on March 4, 1872, there were about one hundred and twenty-five (125) students enrolled. After moving to Saline, Indian Territory, in 1875, the capacity of the institution was 150 and eventually 200 when an addition was added to the building.
There were 167 pupils enrolled when the Orphan Asylum burnt in November 1903. After the fire, the school was moved to its present campus southeast of Tahlequah with an original capacity of about sixty pupils. After additional buildings and dorms were constructed, the school’s population grew to a capacity of nearly 500 in the 1960s.
Until 1930, our school only went up to the eighth grade. There was a push to add the high school grades to the school, so beginning in 1930, a grade was added each year until in 1934, Sequoyah had their first 12th grade graduates.
Starting in 1934 with the first high school graduates from the Sequoyah Orphan Training School, a photograph of each class was taken and placed on the walls of the school building. There are a few senior panels missing but for the most part, each year since 1934, graduating seniors are proudly displayed for all to see.
In 1956, 1st through 6th grades were moved to the Seneca Indian School in Wyandotte with the 7th and 8th grades following them in 1964, making Sequoyah strictly a high school. With the addition of the Cherokee Nation Immersion School, the lower grades are once again a part of Sequoyah Schools today.
Even though Sequoyah has grown from it’s original enrollment, the size of its graduating class has varied over the years. There are reasons for some of these changes in numbers.
When Cherokee Nation took over operation of the school from the BIA in November 1985, one superintendent started allowing more day students. Not everyone had to live in the dorm any more so the number of students enrolling and graduating grew as well. You can look at the senior panels in the hallway and see the rise and fall of the number of graduates over the last eighty-one years.
What year did Sequoyah have the lowest number of graduates based on the senior panels in the hallway AND why was the numbers so low?
Answer: The class of 1945. The numbers were low because of the enlistment in World War II.