About Chaffee R-2 Schools

City of Chaffee

Chaffee is located in Northern Scott County in Southeast Missouri about 15 miles South of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The exact location is 37.18 degrees north of the equator and 89.66 degrees west of the prime meridian.

Founded in 1905, the name Chaffee comes from the Chaffee Real Estate Company in St. Louis that was involved in a land purchase here.

The population of Chaffee is approximately 3,059, and the approximate number of families is 1,363.

History of Chaffee School System
(History information obtained from the Chaffee Historical Society)

The first attempt to start a school was in 1906 in a two-room frame building on Gray Avenue. However, the teacher resigned in a few weeks, and thus the term ended almost before it had started. However, in September 1907, the second attempt was made and proved successful, and classes met a converted granary on Gray. Miss Ara Finley (Mrs. W. G. Thomson) taught the primary grades, and Miss Blanch Hicks (Mrs. S. J. Crosno) taught the upper elementary grades. There was an enrollment of 134 in the first grade that year. In the following year this increased to 157. This number was so large that the pupils had to be divided into two groups -- one group attending school in the morning and the other in the afternoon with a full day's schedule being abridged into the half-day sessions. It was this year that the Chaffee Real Estate Company built a small one-room house across the street from the granary and an additional teacher was employed to assist in the upper grades. A further responsibility of these early teachers in bad weather was assisting the little tots across a plank footbridge which spanned the ditch at the edge of the walk. There were no library books, references, charts or blackboards that first year and portions of the walls were painted to serve the purpose of blackboards. In the following year Miss Finley and Miss Hicks, two of the teachers, secured public subscriptions to begin the first school library.

In 1909 a brick building with four rooms and an office was erected on the corner of Fourth Street and Elliott Avenue. In 1910 a one-room frame school was built and used for the primary grades for three years. In 1912 a four-room addition was added to the brick school which made an eight-room school. The total cost was $14,900. In 1916 a three-story brick high school was built on the corner of Yoakum Avenue and Fifth Street with a bond issue of $13,000.

Austin C. Walling was the first graduate of the advanced high school course in May 1916, completing the last two years' prescribed study alone. There was no commencement exercise. The first two-year graduates were those of the class of 1917 --Arthur Heeb, Jessie Mattocks, and Henry Stubblefield. The first four-year class to be graduated was in 1919 composed of Cora Lee Barham, Lucille Collier, Edna Davis, and Ruth Ora Alley.

Judge J. W. Heeb was the first president of the Board of Education and served nearly continuously until his death in 1949.

In 1920, a two-room frame building was erected north of the high school at a cost of $3,000 to relieve the congested classrooms of the lower grades, and the first and second grade pupils from the north half of the town were taught. A gymnasium was added to the high school campus in 1921 with public donations providing the funds ($6,000) and the students contributing as much voluntary labor as was feasible. By this time, nearly 40% of the population was enrolled in the public schools, and more room had to be provided. Therefore, at its monthly meeting in May 1922, the Chaffee Board of Education passed a resolution creating the Chaffee Junior and Senior High Schools. Bids were opened the first week in services of several more teachers and additional room, so the Board of Education authorized an addition to the high school. When it was finished, the high school was a twelve-room building for with bond issues which totaled $29,000. On June 24, 1922, the cornerstone was laid.

Having been approved as a first-class high school in 1918, a Commercial Department was added in 1922, a Vocational Home Economics Department in 1931, and a few years later a Manual Arts Department. Due to the influence of Superintendent Charles Scott, a night football stadium was erected in 1930.

In 1940 a tornado destroyed the original gymnasium, which had been replaced previously in 1939 by a new one. This gymnasium was very modern and contained four classrooms. It was constructed on the site of the little frame primary building, and those grades were moved into two of its classrooms. The gym that is still in use today was finished in September 1974.

In 1940 work was completed on a Manual Arts building which was constructed for the use of the Vocational Home Economics Department, the Commercial Department, and General Shop Work. It was also designed with the idea of sometime adding Vocational Agriculture if and when a department of this type was needed. The Manual Arts Building was a project of the Works Progress Administration, the plans being furnished by the State Department of Education. In April 1955, the patrons of the school voted a $150,000 bond issue, which was supplemented by $50,000 from the State, for the construction of an eight-room addition to the Southside Grade School. Bids were opened the first week in July of 1955 and the ground was broken shortly thereafter.

The first phase of the new Junior/Senior High School was erected in 1987. Another new building addition in 1995 completed a three-phase, long-range building plan that began in 1973. For the first time, all high school classes were brought under one roof with more room. By extending an already long hallway, new classrooms, new curriculum offerings and new technology were made possible. The 14,000 square foot new addition cost $778,142.

Classes such as Band, Industrial Technology, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Business Education had been held in the Practical/Fine Arts Building (Third Building) that stood on the Chaffee High School campus for decades. September 22, 1997 marked the end of an era as it was torn down and new parking spaces were made. Plans were made for the area to be used for a multi-purpose building and additional classrooms. The multi-purpose building was finished in August 1998.

In 1985, the west wing of the elementary school was declared unsafe after 70 plus years of service. A pilot study determined that the building could no longer be used, hence fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students were moved to make-shift classrooms at Camp Shilow on the grounds of the Church of God located south of Chaffee. In early February 1985, voters of the district approved a $503,000 bond proposed by an overwhelming margin so a new wing could be constructed. The new elementary school addition was completed in 1986.

In the school year 2002-2003, Chaffee R-2 earned the Distinction in Performance Award through the Missouri School Improvement Program.

In 2006, Chaffee R-2 expanded the grade school, K-6, with a $1.5 million new activity center and cafeteria. Also during that year Chaffee High School had the installation of air conditioning in the gym.

In the school year 2008-2009, Chaffee R-2 again earned the Distinction in Performance Award through the Missouri School Improvement Program.

History of CHS Athletics

Early in the life of the school, athletics played a part. A basketball team was organized despite the lack of a coach, and games were played in the old Kagel Saloon building. James N. Ozee and C. W. Green, superintendent, gave occasional advice and moral support prior to the employment of Ralph Ranney as coach for the 1922-23 term.

In the spring of 1922 the boys, having won the district tournament, were eligible for state competition, but they lacked both coach and money so their prospects of getting to Columbia appeared gloomy. Then Lon Bisplinghoff appeared on the scene with an offer to accompany the team and defray their expenses. They went and played dressed in khaki suits. But, they did win and made it to the finals where they were defeated by the exceptionally fast team from Mexico. The team from Mexico was dressed in bright red, and the Chaffee boys dubbed the Mexico team the "red devils." Upon their return home and upon reflection of the merits of that team, they decided to change their name from Bull Dogs to Red Devils; thus, a derisive and mocking term became a rallying name. The CHS athletic program developed; a football team was created; and in 1928, when Charles A. Scott was superintendent and coach, the football field was lighted for night games. This was a first in Southeast Missouri for either high school or college.

*In 1978, the Chaffee football team was the first in the school history to make it to the state playoffs. The football team also made it to the playoffs in 1979.

Finally in 1983, the Chaffee Red Devils football team brought home the first ever 1-A State Football Title.

The Chaffee Red Devils baseball team won the State Championship in 1975, 1977, and 1983.

The Chaffee Red Devils cheerleaders won the State Cheerleading Title in 2000.

In total the Chaffee Red Devils have had

  • 5 State Championships

  • 29 District Championships

  • 47 Conference Championships

  • and remain a tradition of excellence since 1905!