WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
WEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
St. George, Utah
LOCATION12 North 300 West
St. George, UT 84770-3321
Northeast corner of 300 West and Tabernacle and extending back to 200 West
HISTORYUntil June 1955, all elementary grade students in St. George attended the St. George Elementary School (aka "Old Elementary"). The kindergarten classes were held in the Cannon home on the corner of 200 West and Tabernacle, where the district offices are now located. But it became obvious the school needed to be split into two schools.
The new West Elementary School was designed by architect, L. Robert Gardner of Gardner Partnership Architects (Project Number 56-006), in 1956.
The split was made in 1955. Dividing the staff to create the new schools was a challenge. No one wanted to separate. But all were excited about having a new building. Staff and students wished they could all go to the new West Elementary School.
The property for the new school was previously the location of the old Canfield home.
West Elementary, home of the Roadrunners, opened its doors on September 6, 1955. Vernon Worthen, principal at the Woodward School, was assigned to open the new school. The 26,792 square foot school cost $442,365.50. The building was designed by L. Robert Gardner of Cedar City and built by Will Construction Co. It was formally dedicated on February 16, 1956. With its sister school, East Elementary, the two schools housed all the students in St. George for many years.
During the 1970s, West Elementary enrollment began dropping due to the older homes on the west side. With the declining enrollment and the aging of the building, it was projected that West Elementary would be closed down in the near future. No major improvements were funded during this time. Then St. George suddenly began to grow rapidly again. The old Woodward School was reopened and made a part of West Elementary. With the sudden growth throughout the area, the school board changed its decision and decided to keep West Elementary open and planned a major remodeling. At this time, the growth in the district was causing several adjustments. The boundary line between East Elementary and West Elementary was juggled back and forth. Fifth and sixth grade students from other schools were sent to West Elementary. In 1984, West's enrollment jumped to 900 and in 1985, to 1100. By then, the much-needed remodeling at the main building was completed. The building received a new Media Center, patio, Resource room, air conditioning, enlarged kitchen, enlarged office and faculty lounge. A major effort was made by the staff and PTA to purchase several new pieces of playground equipment. In 1985, the school district created a new school at the Woodward facility designed for sixth grade only. Even with the creation of the new Sunset School and two double portable classrooms (added in 1987) at West Elementary, the school lacked room for all its students. Consequently, the fifth grade classes remained at Woodward School and for three years West Elementary remained a K-4 school with just under 600 students. In 1988, West became the first school designated by the school board to pilot the Year Round School program. On July 25, 1988 West, Sunset, and Santa Clara schools began the new program. Two portable classrooms were added and the fifth grade then returned to West Elementary and the enrollment climbed to about 700 where it remained until it's closing.
A lot of attention was paid to the playgrounds during the first two years of the school's existence. The patio had places for hopscotch and line games. The jungle gym, giant stride, slides, and swings were installed on the playground. There was an area for marbles, ball playing, and a basketball setup for the smaller folks. Across the street, an area was blacktopped with three basketball courts, four volleyball courts, as well as places for bike riding, badmitton, marbles, and square dancing. The area was lighted with eight eight-thousand watt lamps on meters and outlets for plugin devices.
Later, a merry-go-round was built by Fred Booth and installed on the playground. At some point, the neighboring Booth home and garage were acquired and demolished to expand the playground. The giant stride was removed in 1984 and the swings were moved in 1986. The jungle gym was declared unsafe by the Health Department and removed in 1990.
The tile wall on the west side of the lunch room was created by students during the 1988-1989 school year. It included a cartoon roadrunner (the school's mascot) in a Southern Utah desert setting. There is also an image of the Dixie rock.
The marquee on the southwest corner of the campus was donated by the PTA during the 1995-1996 school year.
West Elementary School was closed just before Christmas vacation in 2007. Students and faculty were moved to the new Heritage Elementary School starting at the beginning of 2008. The West Elementary School building was demolished early in 2008 to make from for the new Fifth District Courthouse.
WCHS-00213 Front (west side) of West Elementary School
WCHS-00216 North side looking east
Other WCHS photos:
WCHS-00291 Photo of two new portable classrooms being installed at West Elementary School in 1987
WCHS-00292 Photo of two new portable classrooms being installed at West Elementary School in 1987
WCHS-00293 Photo of the two portable classrooms at West Elementary School being removed in 2008
WCHS-00294 Photo of the front of the new West Elementary School in 1956
WCHS-00295 Photos of the side and patio of the new West Elementary School in 1956
WCHS-00296 Photos of the south side of the new West Elementary School in 1956
WCHS-00297 Photos of the West Elementary School playground in the late 1950s and early 1960s
WCHS-00298 Photos of kids playing marbles on the West Elementary School playground
WCHS-00299 Photos of kids braiding the Maypole on the playground of the West Elementary School
WCHS-00300 Photos of the east field at West Elementary School and the Annex Building across the street
WCHS-00301 Photos of the "jungle gym" and "giant stride" on the West Elementary School playground
WCHS-00302 Photos of the new merry-go-round on the West Elementary School playground
WCHS-00303 Photos of West Elementary School, The Annex Building, and Woodward School in 1984-1985
WCHS-00304 Photos of West Elementary School Annex Building playground
WCHS-00305 Photos of kids with snowmen on the West Elementary School playground in February 1968
WCHS-00306 Photos of kids playing on the patio map at West Elementary School
WCHS-00307 Photos of a 4th grade renaissance fair at West Elementary School
WCHS-00308 Photos of the "big toy" on the playground at West Elementary School
WCHS-00309 Photos of the "big toy" on the playground at West Elementary School
WCHS-00310 Photos of the "big toy" on the playground at West Elementary School shortly before being removed
WCHS-00311 Photo of the south wall in the lunchroom at West Elementary School
WCHS-00312 Photo of the tile coat of arms for West Elementary School
WCHS-00313 Photo of the west wall in the lunchroom at West Elementary School with the "Dixie" and "Roadrunner" tile murals
WCHS-00314 Photo of the "Dixie" tile mural on the west wall in the lunchroom at West Elementary School
WCHS-00315 Photo of the "Roadrunner" tile mural on the west wall in the lunchroom at West Elementary School
WCHS-00316 Photo of the lunchroom at West Elementary School with kids dressed up for the Thanksgiving feast tradition
WCHS-00317 Photo of the lunchroom and fireplace at West Elementary School
WCHS-00318 Photo of the auditorium stage at West Elementary School
WCHS-00319 Photo of the main hallway at West Elementary School
WCHS-00320 Photo of the main hallway at West Elementary School
WCHS-00321 Photo of the main hallway at West Elementary School
WCHS-00322 Photo of the lower grades hallway at West Elementary School
WCHS-00323 Photo of a first grade room at West Elementary School
WCHS-00324 Photo of the first PTA Council organized in St. George, 1959
DOCUMENTSA brief history of West Elementary School in St. George
Dedicatory program for the West Elementary School, February 16, 1956
Financial report for the first year of West Elementary School, May 21, 1956
1963-1964 calendar of events for West Elementary School
West Elementary School 4/1/1993 Redbook Best School Award
West Elementary School closed campus - Judd Store controversy
Article about the creation of the "Roadrunner" tile mural in the West Elementary School multipurpose room
Article and photo about the West Elementary School remodeling around 1983-1987
Article about the closing of West Elementary School
REFERENCES"West Elementary School, 1955-2007", a 2-CD digital collection of photos, articles, and other documents compiled by Lee Ann Parkinson of the Washington County School District.