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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961
by Nellie McGuinn
Copyright USD 500, Feb 1966

Return to Previous Section 1955


The Kansas Turnpike brought a new era of quick travel through eastern and central Kansas, bridging lowlands and cutting through rocky embankments.  It reached from the eastern boundary of the city to Wichita and was opened for traffic on October 26, 1956.  This same year marked the end of another long and painful road - recovery from polio.  During 1956, there occurred the first mass inoculations of the Salk vaccine here.  A threatened epidemic of diphtheria was warded off by preventive measurers.

At Frances Willard School, the four-room brick building and three frame portables were being replaced by a new one-story building.  The site had been enlarged from two to six and one-fourth acres.  The school, consisting of eleven classrooms, kindergarten, activity room, and library, was under construction by the Bob Eldridge Construction Company and finished by September.  Grant moved about the middle of February to its new building at 1510 North 4th Street.  At the dedication on May 1, Dr. W. Lewis, director of colored elementary schools, was the speaker.  T. Roosevelt Butler presented the flag given by Errett Scrivner.  Alonzo Plough was the principal.

Progress took another landmark in June, 1956.  Armstrong, oldest school building in the city, made way for the Kansas Turnpike.  The fire department used the old school house as a practice site for different fire fighting methods.  For John Finigan, captain at Number 3 station, a boyhood dream came true when he had a part in burning down the school he had attended as a boy.

Fire Chief Francis Doherty saved the cornerstone and presented it to the Wyandotte Historical Society Museum.  The inscription on it reads:

School House
District No. 9
Built December 25, 1873
By J. Fitzgerald

The old Francis Willard building at 34th and Orville was razed in June and plans for a parking site on the grounds approved.  The new building was erected east of the earlier one.  The remodeling and west addition at Mark Twain were under way.

The new West Junior High School, which housed the future William Allen White elementary students, opened in September 1956, with ten grades in 26 rooms.  Lawson M. Roberts was the first principal, and 23 teachers made up the staff.  Joseph Radotinsky planned the building. Argentine High pupils moved into their new building in the fall.

On September 18, the board let the contract for soundproof music rooms, auditorium and library at Central Junior, Snow, Bryant, and Rosedale buildings already were under construction.

On October 28, before the new school was dedicated, American Legion Post 83 presented a new flag to the Frances Willard PTA.  At the dedication on November 13, Frank Rushton, board president, presided.  Reverend Paul W. Burres, pastor of the Wesley Methodist Church, gave an address.  A flag, flown over the Capitol in Washington, was presented to the school by Frank W. Naylor, Jr., in the name of Representative Errett Scrivner.

West, at 43rd and Georgia, was dedicated on November 15.  At the dedication of Argentine High School on December 10, the speaker was Dr. Franklin Murphy, Chancellor of the University of Kansas.   W. R. Channell was principal.  An auditorium, library, and cafeteria were included in the new building.  December 21 was moving day for Snow.   Classes were transferred from the old building at 2901 Seneca to the new nine-room school at 2605 West 43rd.

In August, the superintendent announced additions and changes in administrative offices.  Robert Boring, Northwest Junior, was appointed assistant to the superintendent.  Miss Vera Croskey, former John Fiske principal, became director of intermediate grades and Miss Hazel Kier was assigned to work as supervisor of special subjects in the junior and senior high schools.  Other administrative changes were:

George W. Mears, board member, retired and Ralph Fulton returned to the board.  One hundred thirty new teachers made up part of the 780 on the faculty in September.

Next Section   1957

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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