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Washington School Building - Meade, KS - Built in 1888


Early History of Meade Schools

Taken from the pages of the Meade County Historical Society 1885 History Book (copyright)

 Written in 1962 by Laura S. Smith

Since records of the first schools in Meade are no longer in existence, the early part of this history is based on my own memory of the events I heard discussed as a child which had happened some years earlier, and on the memory of others who were here at that time.

The late Robert A. Brannan recalled that he was a pupil in the first school held in the town of Meade. That was in the winter of 1885 and 1886. The school was held in a store building which faced the north on Carthage Avenue, about midway between Fowler and Spring Lake Streets. Finances were by subscription, as school districts were not yet sufficiently organized to receive funds for operation. The first teacher was a Mr. Charley Edwards. Mr. Brannan also recalled the name of Melissa Louks as a teacher there. She may have been the second teacher.

Later schools were held in other buildings during the early years. A building somewhere near the intersection of West Plains and Meade Center Streets housed some of the pupils, and another on East Carthage, east of Meade Center Street, held another group. These locations are according to the memories of the late Brother Buis and William Wehrle, and of Mrs. Eva Coon, all of whom attended classes in those places. The late Mrs. M.W. (Carrie) Anschutz recalled attending classes in the Christian Church, on the site of the present Baptist Church.

About that time the district began the erection of a school building, located on the site of present Meade City school buildings. It was named the Washington School, and opened In the fall of 1888. It was a two-storey structure, containing six classrooms with a full basement, which was used for play rooms in stormy weather. There was a bell tower with a bell large enough to be heard for two or three miles.

Three teachers divided the 60 or so pupils into more or less ungraded groups. In the early 1900s, a fourth teacher was added and an attempt was made to arrange the pupils in formal grades. Some of the early-day teachers who gave splendid instruction were Tillie Turner, Jennie Kessler, Abbie Wightman (who later became Mrs. Abbie Bodle and had a long teaching career in the schools), Lou Bodle, A.T. Bodle, Ormond Hamilton, Florence Richardson, Sada Jenkins, C.P. Dawson, and Ross McCormick, to name only a few.

All through the years, a few high school subjects had been taught to older pupils. Such subjects depended upon the interest and preparation of the instructor. So early-day students had some fine ground work in such subjects as mathematics, science, Latin, German, English, and bookkeeping.

However, there came a demand for more formal high school work, and a three-year course was established in 1903. Several classes were graduated from this course.

In 1909, the school board, consisting of James Wilson, M.C. Read, and Frank Bennett, called a meeting of the highest class in the school and asked them what they planned to do the following year. The class replied that they expected to go on to school. The year of 1910 saw a repetition of the same called meeting, and the determination of the class to finish high school.

At that time, the State Superintendent W.D. Ross, and the Superintendent of the schools at Atchison, Kansas, came to Meade as an examining board to give tests and examinations to determine how well the school stood academically for accreditation as a four year high school The result was satisfactory.

In the fall of 1911, Joe N. Hamilton came to Meade as Superintendent and assistant teachers were Florence Lennen and Bertha Davis. The Washington building still housed the eight grades and the high school. It was remodeled inside to add another class room, and a science laboratory, tiny but complete, as well as a domestic science rooms in the basement. So, in 1912, the first class from a four year accredited high school was graduated.

In 1916, the Bennett building was built to house the grade school and in 1926, the new high school building was erected. The upper story of the Washington building was removed, and classrooms were rearranged to accommodate the seventh and eighth grades, and other classes. A new grade school building and gymnasium was built in 1950, the Bennett building was razed to make room for it, and in 1959 the Washington building was removed when a new wing was added to the high school.

A vocational agriculture course was added, and a suitable building was placed on land acquired for the purpose east of the school campus.





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