An illustration in the June 1929 edition of the Northern Student, created by Ella Pearson.
Bemidji State trees logo green square

By Northern Student archives

Published 2:23 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2023

This story originally ran in the June 1929 edition of the Northern Student newspaper. It was written by Marie Lepisto.


The stone over the front entrance of Bemidji State Teachers College bears silent testimony to the changing epochs in the history of the school. It reads: “State Normal School.” F. P. Wirth, a former history instructor at the college, once looked at that stone and remarked significantly, “You know we should have another slab beneath the door with a footnote which reads: ‘Changed to State Teachers College by act of the legislature in 1921.’”

This incident causes us to reflect that Mr. Wirth would have found difficulty in finding space for the many footnote stones necessary to mark the continual changes that have been made in the status of B. S. T. C. For even to those who have grown along with it, the development of the College has seemed almost phenomenal.

June twenty-third marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of the College. There are but three people now connected with the institution who were present on that memorable first day: President Deputy, Miss Bonsall, and the custodian, Mr. Hines. The first regular session of the College opened on the second day of September, 1919, with thirty-eight students and eight members of the faculty including the office force. In the first graduating class in June, 1920, four students received diplomas. If we were to carry out Mr. Wirth’s suggestion, we should have to place a footnote in stone to show our increase in numbers. The record of 1929 shows 233 students, twenty-nine members of the faculty, and eighty graduates.

The June 1929 edition of the Northern Student.

For 1925 another footnote of stone would have to be laid in the masonry because in that year the College was authorized to grant the degree of Bachelor of Education. The first Bachelor, Leonard Vogland, took his degree in 1928, and William Elliott, Irvin Keeler, and Casper Dahle took theirs in the class of 1929. It is an item of interest that the first four Bachelors of Education have been men.

For 1927 one of the most significant stones would have to be placed to mark the completion of the new $105,000 training school wing of the building and the $65,000 heating plant. The new addition practically doubled the capacity of the school.

For 1929 a footnote in gold rather than in stone would have to be engraved to declare that at the meeting of the American Association of Teachers Colleges at Cleveland, among all the teacher training institutions in the United States, Bemidji State Teachers College was rated in Class A. This recognition comes as a fitting tenth anniversary gift.

To recognize other marks of progress stone footnotes would have to be inscribed for many accomplishments of B. S. T. C., such as admitting only high school graduates, requiring a C scholarship average and no failures for practice teaching, making a minimum of two hours a week of extra-curricular activity a requirement, initiating a character-training program, forming new advanced courses, founding a scholarship organization in the school, beginning extension classes outside the city, and gaining recognition for outstanding athletic work.

If the second decade adds as many footnotes of progress to the history of the College as has the last decade, we must needs enlarge the façade of B. S. T. C. to accommodate all the footnotes of stone.