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School History


  • 1911 – Boeke St. and Gilmore Ave
  • 10th and Gilmore
  • 295 So. 10th Street

Other Names:  The name Whittier has belonged to more than one building, which can cause confusion when speaking of the first school, organized January 17, 1908 in a new four-room building at Boeke and Ivandale.  There was an office and a small room which was called “the Library” but later became a classroom.  It was the first of four units of a large building which later was to become one of the oldest Junior High Schools west of the Missouri River.

In March of 1915, Whittier School was moved to portable buildings at 10th and Ivandale while the junior high school was being built.  September 1916:  the building was ready for occupancy, but was found too small to accommodate all the pupils.  So portable buildings were clustered around the Junior High School.

May 1, 1922 saw a new, modern building at 10th and Gilmore – the Whittier School. The author of the following history is unknown, but may have been Mattie Glasgow, Principal, 1926-1939.

Time was when small buildings clustered about a stately structure known by the name of Whittier High School or Junior High School, later to be named Central Junior High School.  These “small clustering buildings” were known as Whittier School.

But these conditions were not to last always, for those pupils were to have a new school home.  Thus in 1922 at the foot of the hill and across the street at 10th and Gilmore, our splendid school building was completed.  On May 1, 1922 over 250 happy children plus 9 happy teachers, armed with their school belongings, marched gaily down the brick walk of the hill, across the street and up the steps into their beautiful new modern home, the Whittier School Building.

At the head of the gay procession marched Miss Ethel Litchfield who, at that time, was the principal of Whittier School.  Following Miss Litchfield, according to grade, were Miss Hazel Wilson, Miss Blanch Woodward, Miss Mattie Glasgow, Miss Gladys Congdon, Miss Marian Vaughan, Miss Ruth Henderson, and Miss Josephine Brown.

Mr. Weiser, the custodian, had gone on ahead and everything was in readiness for the beginning of school in the new building.  It was a wonderful thrill to be housed in this new and beautiful school home.  After being in the little portable buildings so long, the new modern building was double appreciated.

And as is the habit and custom of teachers and school children, classes were assigned to suitable rooms and were down to work by the next day.

When school opened the next fall, Miss Wilson was assigned to Central Junior High, and her place was filled by Miss Jewell Cook.  Miss Lena Feighner and Miss Florence Evans, kindergarten, were added to the list.  The middle of the year found Miss Fleighner transferred to Central Junior High and Miss Wilhemina Hill came to fill her vacancy.

Mr. George also came to us as our custodian in the fall of 1922.  The following year, the room for special children was opened and Miss Martha Kitchen was the teacher sent to take charge of this room.

Miss Frances Jones replaced Miss Evans as kindergarten teacher, Miss Evans being on a year’s leave of absence.

In the spring Miss Vaughan and Miss Henderson were captured by “Cupid’s Darts” and left us to make homes of their own.  Miss Frances Jones, kindergarten teacher, was transferred to Hawthorne School.

These vacancies were filled at the beginning of the next school year by Miss Flora Eichenberger, Miss Daphene Copenhaver, and Miss Ruth Strandberg.  Miss Eichenberger sojourned with us but one year, leaving us to become principal of Whitmore School.

Miss Thelma Burchan came to us in 1926 as one of our primary teachers.  All was going nicely, everything running smoothly, when, just before the Christmas holidays, we were so suddenly shocked and grieved by the accidental death of our principal, Miss Litchfield, one Friday evening; and it was a group of sorrowing children who came to school the following Monday morning. Let us pause a moment to pay tribute to her memory.  She, who so faithfully labored among us for so many years and many were the deeds of charity that came from her hand.

Miss Mattie Glasgow was appointed as successor to Miss Litchfield and under her capable leadership, Whittier School is still forging ahead.  Miss Dorothy Miller replaced Miss Glasgow as teacher until the end of the following semester.

The next fall Miss Jewell Cook was assigned to Alcott School as principal and Miss Mildred Renz Joined our ranks in her stead. One year later Miss Renz became Mrs. Dr. McFarland and the spring of 1930 found Miss Burchan changing her name to Mrs. James Lockovitch.  Miss Geneva Norris succeeded Miss Renz in 1928.

Miss Lucille Evans was her successor.  Mrs. Carl Pearson was our first relief principal, then Mrs. Bottom and Mrs. Howe is our present relief principal.  Mrs. Howe has been with us the past two years.  Mrs. Bess Baker succeeded Miss Evans in first and second grades in 1933.

Our custodian, Mr. George was transferred to Wyandotte High and Mr. Lundback was brought to Whittier School as our custodian.  And let me add here, that, as a group of teachers and PTA workers, we are quite positive that we could not find a more willing cooperative person than Mr. Lundback.

And now that our faculty have been introduced as to their coming and departing, let us turn to our PTA Unit.


PTA in 1928

Miss Gardner was the first PTA president to walk into our new Whittier Building and pound the gravel to call our meeting to order.  Mrs. Shaumeyer was the following president and remained in office two years.  Then came Mrs. Lyons, Mrs. Barnard, Mrs. Douglas, Mrs. Peresch, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Dresin and now our activities president, Mrs. Pick (1932).  When we came into the perfectly new and modern building there was much that the PTA unit could do for Whittier.  As a PTA unit, we have always had the heartiest cooperation of our principal and teachers and have enjoyed doing all we could for our school.

The walks were bare, the grounds were bare, furniture was needed, books were needed and the cafeteria pantry needed furnishings.  Slowly but surely the PTA set about to do their bit for the school the children attended.  Among the things that the PTA unit has been responsible for at Whittier School are some furniture in the nurse’s room, at least one picture in every room and two pictures in some of the rooms, the Hectograph, on which PTA notes are printed, a set of World Books, some books for the primary grades, text books for children whose parents were unable to purchase them, furnishings for our cafeteria pantry that our work here might be more easily accomplished and this spring, 1932, we purchased the new typewriter the teachers needed so badly.

Our pre-school group was organized in October of 1931 with 20 charter members.  We have  met once a month and have an interesting study group and round table discussion at each meeting.  Mrs. Mangum is our new president for the coming year.  We hope that our pre-school circle will grow with leaps and bounds under her leadership.


Whittier School was organized January 17, 1908 in a new four-room building at Boeke and Ivandale.  There was an office and a small room which was called “the Library” but later became a classroom.  It was the first of four units of a large building which later was to become one of the oldest Junior High Schools west of the Mississippi River.

J. L. Howard was supervising principal. Miss Esther Mead, head teacher. Teachers were Josephine Brown, Helen Blascock, and Zella Skinner. (Groupings of schools during 1907-08 discontinued at close of school year.)

Manual training center, formerly at Irving, moved to Whittier.

1909: February 1. New tract for school.

1912: First PTA. Mrs. R. B. Smith, President

1915: March: The board planned a new division of schools and grades. The Whittier School on Ivandale was enlarged to accommodate pupils of Armourdale and the schools to the south of Central Avenue from the seventh to the ninth grades in what was known as a junior high school. Classes moved to portables at 10th and Ivandale while the junior high addition was being built.

1916: September. Building ready. Too small to accommodate all. Portables clustered around junior high school for Whittier children.  (Note:  The portables were used for elementary children until a new school was built for them at 10th and Gilmore.)

1920: Ground purchased at 10th and Gilmore for new Whittier. To have 12 rooms.

1921-22: Building constructed. Rose and Peterson, architects.

1909-1925 – Rose/Peterson, Architects – Much sparer in overall design are ten primary and secondary school constructed to meet the demands of a growing population. The use of materials (brick and terra-cotta), request application of Classical detailing, and overall plan (which features a two-story rectangular block, three bays wide), are treated similarly in all of these schools. Differing from late nineteenth and early twentieth century design, these schools were planned to provide more light and circulation for the students and staff: Stanley (1913), Whittier II (1919-20), Chelsea II (1921-23), Roosevelt (1922), McKinley, Louisa M. Alcott, and Mark Twain (1922-1924), Major Hudson (1923-24), and Central III (1924) elementary schools and Turner High School, built in 1916-17. The elementary schools were also designed in such a way that they could, if need be, be built in stages, responding to population increases within their service areas.

Whittier was the first school to have kindergarten conveniences provided for in the original plans. Demands increased that Whittier be finished, as the children were “farmed” out in nine portables. John A. Woulf said it would be ready by September 12.

Work on Whittier stopped in December, three months after the date set for its completion, because costs had exceeded the estimates. After January 1, 1922, $10,000 would be available and Whittier could be finished.

1922: May 1. Nine teachers and 250 children into new building. Miss Ethel Litchfield, principal.

Mrs. Gardner, PTA President.

Dedication when school opened. Furnishings incomplete. PTA bought necessary articles.

1923: Special room (ungraded) under Miss Martha Kitchen.

1926: December. Miss Ethel Litchfield, principal, killed by car. Miss Mattie Glasgow took her place.

1985: Fifth grade transferred to M E Pearson because of overcrowding.

1989: School to be replaced with new facility.

1991: New building opened. Thirty-one classrooms. Called “New Whittier.”  Architect: Buchanan Architects & Associates. General contractor: Art Penner Construction Company. Cost $3,808,000.

Grade 5 back to Whittier. McKinley and Central schools as attendance areas and students reassigned to M E Pearson. Boundary lines changed. M E Pearson area south of Central Avenue to Whittier.

October 20. Dedication of building.

2003: Due to overcrowding at M E Pearson and Whittier Elementary Schools, boundary lines are being changed and (depending upon the home address), specific students will attend Central, Grant or McKinley Elementary Schools in the fall of 2004-05.

2004: Received a “Great IDEAS” grant (funded/sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Fund) for the 2004-05 school year, which encourages teachers in SLC’s (Small Learning Communities) to work together to develop innovative programs and projects to improve student learning.  Received $5,000.


1908-13 – Ella Mahaffie / 1913-26 – Ethel Litchfield / 1926-39 – Mattie Glasgow / 1939-49 – Grace Roberts / 1949-56 – Mildred Hawkins / 1956-76 – Jennie Weir / 1976-79 – Nolen Porchia / 1979-84 – Patrick Cigich / 1984-88 – Mary Moore / 1988-94 – Michael Stithem / 1994-95 – Dr. Claudis Allen / 1995-2003 – Georgia Berry / 2003 – 2008 – Alan Schlichlting / 2009 – Geri Cunningham