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William Chrisman High School: Wikis


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William Chrisman High School
School Crest
1223 North Noland Road
Independence, MO

Type Public Grades 9-12
Established 1888
Principal Mr. Mike Becker
Enrollment 1,400(2008-2009)
Information PHONE: (816)521-5355
FAX: (816)521-2729
Colors Blue and Gold
Mascot Bears (Bruins)

William Chrisman High School is a High School located in Independence, Missouri as part of the Independence School District. The school was founded in 1888 and was originally known as Independence High School. The first building was located at the intersection of Pleasant and Truman Road, the current location of the Palmer/Central Office Building. It is from this location that President Harry S. Truman, First Lady Bess Truman, and Truman White House Press Secretary and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Griffith Ross graduated from in 1901.

In 1917 the Independence School District passed a levy and bond to build a new high school building. Margaret Chrisman Swope offered to sell the district land for the new school at the southeast corner of Union and Maple for $1 in exchange for naming the school after her father - William Chrisman. Chrisman had served as a member of the first school board in 1866 and was also a prominent lawyer and banker in the community. The new building opened in 1918 as William Chrisman High School. The high school moved to its current site in 1956, at the northeast corner of Noland Road and U.S. Route 24 (Independence Avenue), when a major addition was added to Ott Elementary School and the building was converted into the high school. Since that time the building has undergone numerous additions.



William Chrisman is currently home to approximately 1,700-1,800 students from Independence, Missouri and part of Sugar Creek, Missouri.[citation needed] With the majority of students consisting of the Caucasian race, African-American, Arab, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic Heritages also make up a large portion of backgrounds among enrolled students.

The House System

As of the 2007-2008 school year, all high schools in the Independence School District underwent the “house system.” The house system is an academic classification of administrators, faculty, and students into different units and in Chrisman’s case, five houses. The house system was designed to make everyday procedures and fiscal activities easier to carry out, such as faculty meetings, parties and rewards activities, and individual student penalizing.




In 1998, the (then) Independence All-School Stadium (now a practice field) was named in honor of former Chrisman football coach and district athletic director, Norman James. In 2001 the district proposed moving the stadium to land just south of the old field (where the stadium was originally planned for in 1957), and in 2002 construction began. That same year the Bears played their final home football game on the old field (against Lee's Summit High School), and their first game in the new stadium (against Park Hill South High School). On October 25, 2002, the 'new' Independence All-School Stadium/Norman James Field was dedicated, followed by the annual battle for the Wagon Wheel between Chrisman and Truman. The stadium would serve as the varsity football facility for both teams (and Van Horn, starting in 2008), while complementing Chrisman's existing (and resurfaced) track. Four years later (2006), the district invested money into covering the football field with artificial turf. 'All-School Stadium' is now used for football, soccer, track & field, and various other purposes as a district facility.

One of the first basketball coaches of William Chrisman/Independence High School was the legendary Forrest "Phog" Allen. Allen went on to coach at other schools, most notably the University of Kansas, where Allen Fieldhouse, the basketball arena at KU, is named in his honor. Allen was inducted into the Chrisman Hall of Fame in a special ceremony in January, 2005. The ceremony, at halftime of the boys varsity game against Lee's Summit North High School, recognized many former players and coaches at Chrisman celebrating 100 years of Chrisman hoops. The 2004-05 William Chrisman boys basketball season marked the 100th.

The William Chrisman Bears have competed with their 'Noland Road' rivals, the Truman Patriots, for three trophies: the Wagon Wheel in football since 1969, the Golden Grappler in Wrestling since 2003, and the Three Trails Trophy in boys and girls basketball (two separate trophies) since 2007. Chrisman and Truman compete with Fort Osage High School, St. Mary's High School, and Van Horn High School for the Independence City Championship in Cross Country and Track & Field

William Chrisman is currently a member of the Suburban Big Six (consisting of high schools: Chrisman, Oak Park, Park Hill, Park Hill South, Truman, and Winnetonka), a division of the Greater Kansas City Suburban Conference League, which realigns/changes every two years.


The William Chrisman Bears compete in the following fall sports: Boys: cross country, football, soccer, swimming; Girls: cross country, golf, softball, tennis

The first Class 5, District 7 football championship won by William Chrisman was in the year 2002. It was Chrisman's first trip to the state playoffs, where they lost in the first round, on the road at Park Hill High School. Their overall record was 6-5 (including playoffs). On October 27, 2006 WCHS's football team again defeated cross-town rival Truman to retain the Wagon Wheel trophy. The same football team won the Class 5, District 7 Championship for the second time, defeating Raytown, North Kansas City, Truman, and Raytown South. However, they lost in the state playoffs at, once again, Park Hill High School.


The William Chrisman Bears compete in the following winter sports: Boys: basketball, wrestling; Girls: basketball, swimming

The Bears boys basketball team shared the 2001 Suburban Middle Eight Conference Championship with Raytown High School. In the 2005-06 season, the Bears introduced their fast-paced run-and-gun style of play modeled after Grinnell College. Chrisman has gone on to receive national attention, breaking numerous state and national records along the way. As of February 2009, the Bears are the 2008-09 Suburban Big Six Conference Champions, and the 2009 Missouri Class 5 District 15 Champions (their 21 District Title). The Bears Wrestling team has made some strides. In February 2009, Chrisman qualified five (5) wrestlers to the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships (the State Tournament) at Mizzou Arena. These were Alex Keith (103), Blane Peck (125), Matthew Wheaton (160), Devin Patrick (189), and Nate Tuione (285). Senior Matt Wheaton finished sixth at state, and was Chrisman's first state medalist since 2003.

Fall & Winter

The William Chrisman Bears perform & compete in the following artful sports: Boys & Girls: dance team

The dance team, initially created as a drill team, is still traditionally called the Beartrackers. The team is currently co-ed and performs routines to favorite music mixes of each generation during summer camps, the high school's larger sporting events' break times, class assemblies, parades & end of the season competitions.


The William Chrisman Bears compete in the following spring sports: Boys: baseball, golf, tennis, track & field; Girls: soccer, track & field

The 2006 William Chrisman Boys Track & Field Team won the Independence City Championships, held that year at Truman High School. It was the first city title the Bears had won in over 17 years, ending the Patriots long winning streak. The Bears capped the season by hosting districts, qualifying athletes to sectionals, and senior Jason Clark cleariing 7 feet to win the High Jump at the 2006 MSHSAA (State) Track & Field Championships.

All year

In November, 2006 WCHS's varsity cheerleading squad won first place honors in the 5A Large Division of the Missouri State Cheerleading Championships. The squad, under the direction of Debbie O'Renick has placed in the top five in the state competition fifteen times since the late 1980s, including a state championship 1995. The 2006-2007 squad has also qualified for the UCA National Cheerleading competition, which will be held in Orlando, Florida in February 2007. Recently, the William Chrisman High School Special Olympics 5-on-5 basketball team won first place at the state tournament in St. Charles, Missouri.

Other activities

Chrisman's Speech & Debate Team is highly accomplished and has been ranked among the top high schools in the National Forensics League for some time now.[citation needed] Chrisman has a Superior-Rated Vocal Music Department. In 2009, at the KC Metro Large Ensemble Contest, all four Chrisman choirs, Women's Chorus, Men's Chorus, Concert Chorale, and the Blue and Gold Singers, all received Superior 1 Ratings. In Fall 2009, 8 students were selected to be members of the KC Metro Honor Choir; of those eight, 2 were selected as members of Missouri All-State Choir, and 1 alternate. At District contest 2010, there were 10 Superior I Ratings, 8 Excellent II Ratings, and 7 Good III Ratings. Chrisman has, in an equal partnership with Truman High School and Van Horn High School, also produced a robotics team mentored by Russel Clothier, Libby Sparks (Rookie Year only), Rick Gwinn, Brian Holmgren, and Jared Hook. The team took Rookie Team of the Year at the St. Louis Regional at the FIRST Robotics Competition in 2006, and went to nationals in Atlanta, Georgia.[citation needed]

Other extracurricular include:

  • Association for Chrisman Excellence
  • American Field Service (Taken over by Student Council near the start of 2000)
  • Chess Club
  • Club Revolution
  • Common Ground
  • Distributive Education Clubs of America(DECA)
  • FBI Robotics
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • French Club
  • Future Business Leaders of America
  • German Club
  • Harry Potter Book Club
  • Knitting Club
  • Math Club
  • National Honor Society
  • Pokémon Club
  • Scholar's Bowl
  • Science Club
  • Spanish Club
  • Students Without Borders
  • Thespians
  • and more

Yearly events

  • Foreign Language Festival-An annual carnival and cabaret show combine to become the biggest earner of additional revenue for the French, German, and Spanish Language Departments
  • Independence Winter Classic Forensics Tournament-Competitive debate rounds and oratory speech combine to establish the traditional speech & debate tournaments that occur every December, in which both Chrisman and Truman High School participate in acting as host schools for the district tournament

School song

  • Faithful and true-hearted,
  • Let us cheer our dear old high,
  • We revere her and defend her,
  • And her colors proudly fly.
  • We will stand for her united,
  • Of her deeds we gladly tell.
  • Her colors streaming,
  • Glad faces beaming.
  • So here's a cheer for her,
  • For her we love so well.


  • Joyous and ever loyal
  • Let us boost for Chrisman High
  • Let every heart sing,
  • Let every voice ring,
  • There's no time to grieve or sigh.
  • It's ever onward, our course pursuing.
  • Let defeat ne'er our ardor cool,
  • But united we will boost for her,
  • Our own high school.

Notable alumni


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