Dr. Ralph Farrar; A Legacy Remembered

The Ralph Farrar Media Center at Ames High is a frequent stop in the day-to-day schedule of many students. Whether they need to use a computer, find a book, or simply have a free period, students always seem flock to the MC like a herd of lost sheep. However, most of these students have little or no clue as to the significance of the media center’s name and many do not know who Dr. Ralph Farrar was. Ralph L. Farrar was, in fact, the principal at Ames High from 1969 to 1994, and for the 11,600 students who passed through the Ames High doors during those years, he is remembered as a kind, but firm man. One such student is AHS registrar Barbi Greenlaw, who graduated in 1972. “Dr. Farrar started in 1969, so my class was the first he brought all the way through high school,” Greenlaw said. “He always said ours was the worst class, but [being a good student] I only saw his kind, nice side.” Whether this worst class was due to the turbulence in society in the ‘60s and ‘70s or simply teenage hormones, Dr. Farrar seems to have handled it well, letting students express themselves and their frustration with society. “Kids would wear black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam, and there was an underground newspaper he didn’t censor at all,” Greenlaw said. But in exchange for this freedom, Farrar emphasized discipline. “He had pretty high standards for student behavior,” Greenlaw said. “He was the person who liked order. You wouldn’t see kids running around the hall.” Farrar is also remembered for rewarding students who excelled in various departments. “We had pep assemblies regularly and [Farrar] would honor students in all different areas–he was good at honoring people,” Greenlaw said. Teachers who were here during Farrar’s duration as principal also note the freedom allowed to students. “Ralph would allow clubs to happen and not worry about the community,” said English teacher Reggie Greenlaw, who started teaching at Ames High in 1979. “He said that a liberating thing as a principal is that you get to do what you think is right, because half the people will like it and the other half won’t.” Aside from letting students express themselves, Farrar brought teachers together. “He was very quick to bring together departments that were warring, he would listen to both sides then demand that it stop,” Mr. Greenlaw said. “All in all, he was a very loving man, and treated everyone fairly.” Sadly, Farrar passed away in 2006, but for the students he had during his 29 years as head administrator, he will always be remembered as a principal who was indeed your pal. “He knew who I was, he made a point of knowing people. He was a presence, kind of like Spence [Evans]. He was always in the halls and he would remember you,” Mrs. Greenlaw said. “He left a legacy,” Mr. Greenlaw said. This is a legacy that will no doubt continue to live in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.