Holt-Delhi Historical Society

Established 2014

History of Holt Schools

"The earliest school to have been taught in Delhi Township appears to have been the Delhi Center or Holt School. The first teaching in the township occurred in the cabin of George Phillips. The schoolhouse was built of logs about 1840, and replaced by a frame building in 1852. Miss Lydia Wells taught in Phillips' cabin; she also taught the first two terms in the log school at the Center."

"The Bicentennial History of Ingham County, Michigan" by Ford Caesar

"In 1875, a brick building was built to replace the frame building of 1852. It was a two-story structure, of red brick, with an ornate cupola for the bell. The cost of construction and furnishings came to roughly $2,300. The primary grades, one through six, were housed on the first floor, while the intermediate pupils, seventh and eighth, were on the second story. Two teachers were hired for the forty to sixty pupils. This school was the largest in the area with the Maple Grove school located on M-99 the second... Disaster for the schools struck on November 11, 1914, when the red brick school building burned to the ground."

A meeting was called by the Board of Education on December 19, 1914, consisting of the following men: J.J. Manz, H.E. Gunn, J.D. Thorburn, George Wilcox, and C.V. Keller. The board voted to ask for an eight-thousand dollar loan to build a new school house. When the recommendation was presented to the voters it passed by a 54-12 majority. The new school was built on the site of the old building in 1915. The building consisted of three classrooms with additional classroom space available in the basement. It opened in the fall of 1915. 

As new young families moved into the district post-WWI, space became tight at the school. Makeshift classrooms were added in the basement but lacked ventilation and were located adjacent to the chemical toilet tank, giving off a severe odor which made learning difficult. Over the course of 1921-1923, a bond proposal was brought up for a vote seven times, failing each time. It took until the seventh vote and active community members campaigning for passage of the bond. After the bond passed, an addition was built across the front of the school in 1923 consisting of three classrooms, an office and hall on the first floor, an assembly room, chemistry laboratory and one classroom on the second floor.

Additional classroom space was added in 1926, with a wing built on the west side of the building consisting of four classrooms on both the first and second stories.

In 1925-1926, Holt added 12th grade to its curriculum. The Class of 1926 was Holt's first twelfth grade graduating class! 

In 1935, a gymnasium, kitchen, cafeteria, and four classrooms were added. The old auditorium was also converted into a library and additional classrooms. These 1930s projects were part of the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency for the alleviation of unemployment during the Depression years.


"By 1948... a building and site fund millage was passed, which provided for the building of Midway School on Spahr Avenue. Its doors were opened in the fall of 1949, thus beginning a new era of education for Holt. The school had changed from the old village school concept (three room, seventy-five students, five teachers) to over 1,000 students housed in two buildings with thirty-five teachers. Midway first consisted of seven classrooms, with later additions in 1954, 1956, 1960 and 1967."

Elliott & Sycamore

"Another bond issue passed in the fall of 1952 for $360,000 which was used to build sycamore and Elliott schools, both of which opened in the fall of 1953. Elliott school was named for a much-loved teacher in Holt, Miss Tessa Elliott. Miss Elliott came to Holt in 1918 and taught for the following thirty-eight years [until 1956]. She commanded the respect of two generations of Holt children and taught perhaps as many as 1,200 students in her years in Holt."

The portrait of Tessa Elliott (right) hangs in Elliott Elementary School. It was originally a gift of the Elliott PTA in 1958. After having been removed for many years, the portrait was restored by the Holt-Delhi Historical Society and the Holt Alumni Association and returned to its home in the school in 2017. 

Additional growth was constant during the 1950s and early 1960s. Further additions were made to the elementary schools, and in 1955-57 a new high school was constructed. The cost of the building was $1,000,000. Although originally designed as a campus style outlay, the buildings have since been joined together, with remodeling and additions continuing to the present. The formal dedication was held in October, 1959, with Gov. G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams, as the guest speaker. 

The then-former high school building at Holt Road and Park Lane became the Junior High School from 1959 through the fall of 1976, when it became the Middle School for grades 6-7.

"In 1962, the voters of the Holt and Dimondale School Districts voted favorably on a merger by annexation proposition. The former Dimondale High School was razed after the merger and is currently the site of the Windsor Township Library. The Dimondale Elementary School on Walnut Street accommodates the students from the former Dimondale Schools and part of the Maple Grove and outlying Holt areas. The building was built in 1951, with additions in 1961, 1963, and 1965."

The Holt High School building at Aurelius Road and Sycamore Road underwent extensive renovations during 1963-64. The four campus style buildings were connected and a cafeteria, music room, shop room, special education unit, and a home economics wing were added.


The Island School District merged with the Holt School District in 1965. The Education Center, which housed administrative offices, was added to the Holt School District in 1966 on Spahr Avenue. 

Wilcox Elementary School was built in 1968 after Holt Schools purchased property from Dr. Daniel Sturt, developer of the Heather Haven subdivision for use as a neighborhood elementary school. The building was designed by Wayotte-Webb Architects and built by Reniger Construction. 

In 1938-1969, additions were again under construction at the Senior High School. The addition included the pool, auditorium, music rooms and classrooms. 

In 1972, the auditorium was dedicated to Dr. Maurice Pernert, who had been Superintendent of Schools from 1958 until his untimely death in 1972. The portrait (left) originally hung in the lobby outside Pernert Auditorium. It was removed for many years due to damage and was returned to its home at the Auditorium in 2018 after a restoration effort by the Holt-Delhi Historical Society and the Holt Alumni Association. 

The newly constructed athletic field and facilities were dedicated in September in 1972 to Dr. Frank Troost, who had been the team physician for thirty-four years, from 1930 to 1964." 

In 1975 a new building was added to the Holt School District. Originally Holt Junior High School, housing grades 8 and 9, the building opened in Fall 1976. It is located on West Holt Road, the district's first building constructed in this area. The school originally had quad-classrooms by subject, and by 1981 full walls were constructed between the original open concept quads. From 2003 to 2016, the building served as Holt High School's Ninth Grade Campus. It is presently known as the Holt High School North Campus, housing Holt's 12th grade class. 

In 1980, the Holt Middle School was dedicated to Bernard L. Hope, a Holt alumnus, athletic record holder, and longtime Board of Education president, following his unexpected death in 1980. In 1981, a $3.2 million bond was passed, the majority of which was used for an addition and renovations to Hope Middle School. A large northern addition was added to the building including 17 classrooms, a library, and administrative offices. In May 1982, the old school building (originally built in 1915) was razed and as the new school building was built on the site. Prior to the demolition, a chain of students passed 5,000 books from the old second floor library to the new library in the northern addition. The "new" Bernard L. Hope Middle School opened in Fall 1982. Today, the building consists of the 1981-82 addition, as well as pieces from 1935, 1963-64, and 1969. 

In 1993, the Holt School District added two new buildings. Washington Woods Middle School and Horizon Elementary School. There were also district-wide renovations in 1993.

The most recent addition to the Holt School District was the 'new' Holt High School building on West Holt Road in 2003. 

Principals of Holt High School

Mr. David S. Yape
 Mr. Paul Straight
 Mr. Charles H. Mann
 Mr. Keith B. Odle
 Mr. Stuart L. Openlander
 Mr. Wesley E. Black
 Mr. Barret Vorce
 Mr. Ronald B. Sage
 Mr. Robert Schieffer
 Mr. John Wellington
 Mr. Merritt Chandler Nauts
 Mr. Paul Jolly
 Mr. Tom Davis
 Mr. Brian Templin
 Mr. Michael Willard

Superintendents of Holt Schools

Mr. Larned Goodrich
Mr. Titus T. Wilt
Mr. Stuart L. Openlander
Mr. Benton Yates
Mr. Rex B. Smith
Dr. Maurice Pernert
Dr. Donald Shebuski
Dr. Henry Sienkiewicz
Dr. Mark Maksimowicz
Mr. Tom Davis
Dr. Johnny Scott
Dr. David Hornak

More information on the history of Holt Public Schools is available upon request.