The Oakmont School Opens
The Bryan School that opened in Dickson in the fall of 1908 was an immediate success, but by the beginning of the fourth school year, overcrowding was becoming a major issue. The house that had been used to serve as the town of Dickson’s first public school needed to be replaced. Some thought the time had come for a new larger brick building.
One of the reasons the school became overcrowded so fast is because the school expanded to teach high school classes to students who could pass the 8th grade examination. The high school students brought a new element to the school. They formed a football team and by the fall of 1911, they were competing against other local schools. There were reports in the local newspapers of the “Dickson High School” taking on the Fairview Academy football team out of Centerville. A reporter described it as “the best football game ever played in Dickson.” Both teams were “light and fast” with the contest displaying “one brilliant play after another.” The biggest play of the game was when a Dickson player intercepted a pass and returned it 80 yards for the touchdown. But despite the big play, Dickson ended up falling short and losing the game. There was a large crowd in attendance to see the first game of the 1911 season, and plans were being made for more games.
The people of Dickson had pride in their new school and they wanted a better facility for the students. But people were split on the matter. Some wanted to build a new school and others argued that enough money had already been spent on education. The issue was left to a vote. In the fall of 1911, town officials held an election to allow the people of Dickson to decide if they wanted a new school.
The official vote was scheduled for Saturday October 7, 1911. On Thursday and Friday before the election there were outdoor rallies in Dickson to encourage people to vote for the new school. On Saturday morning there was a parade featuring 480 children. Each one carried an American flag and wore a badge with the inscription “We Want a New Brick School.” They were led by six children on horseback and accompanied by their teachers. Later that day, the election took place. The final tally was 191 for a new school and 13 against. The town was united in favor of education.
The 1911-1912 school year would be the last in the old Bryan schoolhouse. At the end of the school year, the old house was moved off the property to make way for the building of a new modern school on the same site. While construction was being done on the Bryan property, most students attended school at the Dickson Courthouse during the 1912-1913 school year. Some grades were housed in the local churches. The Dickson Courthouse is gone now, but it used to sit where the War Memorial Building is now, just across the street from the Walnut Street Church.
The new school building was made of brick. It was two stories tall with a basement. It also had a brand new auditorium that could hold close to 500 people. Well over $30,000 (close to $1 million in today’s money) was spent building and equipping the new school. It was so expensive and the town was so proud of the school that they hired a special policeman to watch over the new building. He was paid $1.25 a day and he received an additional fee of $.50 for all arrests and convictions.
By the fall of 1913 the new school was finally completed and on October 6th the new “Dickson Public School” opened. This new state of the art school became so popular that students from outside of the district wanted to attend. The decision was made to let those students attend, but only if they paid a fee.
For the first few years, the new school was known simply as the Dickson Public School. A few years later, a new principal took over named Professor Morrison. He was popular with the students and it is believed that he is the one who gave the school its name of “Oakmont.”
Within a few years the “Oakmont School” began experiencing its own overcrowding issues. But this time, instead of opening an even bigger school, officials began talking about separating the high school from grades 1-8. This would give grades 9-12 their own building. Most people agreed, it was time for Dickson to have its first real high school and plans for the first official “Dickson High School” began.