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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Boarding school boys stage revolt, walkout

UPDATED: Fri., March 9, 2018

Nearly the entire student body of the James Lyon Boarding School for Boys staged a walkout in protest of poor food and harsh discipline. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Nearly the entire student body of the James Lyon Boarding School for Boys staged a walkout in protest of poor food and harsh discipline. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Nearly the entire student body of the James Lyon Boarding School for Boys in Spokane staged a mutiny and walked out.

Of the 19 boys at the school, 17 walked out and said they would not return. Professor Lyon’s assistant, professor Frank Peteler, said that “trouble had been brewing the last several months as the result of unsatisfactory treatment and poor food.”

The walkout occurred while Lyon had gone on an errand downtown. Many of the boys were now with their parents, and others were at a local hotel awaiting their parents. Some of the boys were from as far away as Alberta and Montana.

An angry Lyon charged that Peteler had induced the boys to leave and was hoping to start a school of his own.

Peteler denied this. He said that the boys’ parents took most of the boys out because of the conditions. He said that Lyon acted “in an autocratic manner and has abused the boys.” Peteler said that one boy had a scar on his face after being struck by Lyon. He also said the food was so bad that the boys had engaged in “a number of food strikes.”

Lyon denied having had trouble with the boys or using corporal punishment. He added that “correctional work is always necessary with boys and they have been punished by being kept in and by being given extra tasks to do.”

Lyon threatened to charge Peteler with kidnapping.

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