During the fall of 1935, Frank Oliver proposed that a high school be built to serve John Day and the surrounding towns. Before the school was built Canyon City and Seneca had their own school system. A combined school for all of these towns saved money and provided a better staff of teachers.
Around the first of October a telegraph was received from Portland stating that there was a $65,000 grant to construct the high school if all the plans were formed and work had started by the 15th of December. But there was no district even organized yet so a meeting was hurriedly called, but no one thought they could be organized enough to meet their December 15 deadline. However, it was decided to make an attempt to form the district and petitions were out by the members of the school board. They managed to meet the deadline and work began. The towns came together in aid to the newly formed school and district. The work finished and school began in the fall of 1936.