There were one hundred and twenty-nine school-houses valued at $90,500.  One hundred and eighty-six examined for certificates.  Eight persons held state license.  There were twenty-six rooms in the graded schools; viz; Rock Rapids, ten, Larchwood, three, Lester, two, Inwood, two, George, two, Little Rock, two. Doon, three and Alvord, two.



In 1892 the first school house was built about one mile west of the Lester cemetery. In the winter months, school was held above the store which was a building on the corner of Main and Thomas. (Where the present People’s Bank building is located.) Later a two room school was built and the first teacher was Miss Ada Pingrey. She taught six or seven years near Lester after having attended Cornell College. A memorial window of colored glass with her name inscribed was in the west side of the old Methodist Church building. Those who knew her spoke of her in loving terms.

In 1895 Lester was made a school district with Miss Ada Pingrey as the principle. In 1897 she died of typhiod fever. Luella Washburn is remembered as the first primary teacher.

In 1902 an addition of two rooms was made to the school house. As it advanced a high school became a part of it.

In the 20’s and 30’s, activities were held in the old Opera House. Basketball games were enjoyed there, sans showers, sans drinking fountains, sans everything, except a powerful old coal furnace. Luxury indeed! All high school plays, declamatory events, some church affairs of a social type and certainly old time dances were all held in this old building. That was the school gym of that score of years.

Many of us recall Mr. and Mrs. Glen Ingram. They both taught the four grades in the high school. The enrollments reached the great number of 40. However, in 1932, Miss Elberta Wroughton joined the faculty staff and in 1934 Miss Eleanor Stewart from Inwood, Iowa joined the faculty. She was a lovely person and was the home economics teacher just graduated from the University of Minnesota. It was she who taught us a new school song really establishing her appeal with us students.

Lester, Lester, Hats off to thee! To our high school true we shall ever be. Firm and strong united are we! Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, Cheer for Lester High! (with apologies to the U. of M.)

Mrs. (Vernel) Ingram taught the English classes in high school as well as History and some Math. She was an inspirational teacher who directed many plays as well as declamatory contests during her stay in Lester. During these years our play groups won cups and high honors at Morningside College where we entered play contests.

Mr. Glen Ingram was the superintendent and directed/coached sport activities. Following is a fine “biography” printed in the Des Moines Register at the time of this death in the early 1980’s.

Glen Ingram—Sioux Rapids farmer, educator, inventor and the geriatric wonder of The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa—died of a brain tumor Monday at the Sioux Care Center. He was 83.

Ingram was one of the most popular riders on RAGBRAI. He made his last several rides across the state sporting rhyming shirts that touted his own spryness.

They read: “80 and Married to the Same Sweet Lady,” “81 and Still Having Fun,” “82 and Good as New,” and “83 and Healthy as Can Be.”

In this year’s ride, another bicyclist cut too closely in front of Ingram and his front wheel, sending Ingram spilling over his handlebars. The fall broke his collarbone in three places.   Ingram’s daughter, Cheryl Ingram said her father was furious about being unable to complete the ride. He vowed to return to next year’s ride with a short reading: “84 and Back for More.”

Born on a farm in Paxton, Ill., Glen Ingram came to Sioux Rapids as a boy. He graduated from Morningside College, where he ran on the track team. He was nicknamed Nurmi after Finland’s star runner, Paavo Nurmi, and he named his only son Nurmi.   Ingram and his wife, Verne!, also a Morningside graduate, taught for five years in Nebraska before moving to Lester where he became school superintendent. In 1936 the couple returned to the Ingram family farm three miles southeast of Sioux Rapids.

Ingram first came into the public eye in the 1960s when he invented an automatic stapler for attaching wire to metal fence posts. He also designed break­away hurdles for track teams.

The staplers, which were manufactured in the basement, garage and recreation rooms of the Ingram home, were used to erect fences along Iowa’s interstate highways. Ingram also designed V-shaped wire staples to hold down protective mesh for new seedlings along the interstates.

In 1965 Ingram recalled that the staple invention brought 560 orders from farmers attending “a farm gadget competition” at the Iowa State Fair. His invention won second prize.

After that, he said, ‘I had little trouble selling the idea to the Iowa Highway Commission for use in the interstate work.”

Ingram’s exercise interests waned in his busy mid-career. When he was 69 years old, his doctor told him he was either going to have to get in shape or forget about his life, his daughter recalled.

He started running and wound up competing in the master’s division of track meets and road races. But the running was hard on his knees. In his 70s, he switched to bicycling and snow skiing.

After having a malignant brain tumor removed in September, however, he said he had ridden his last RAGBRAI.

Ingram was a member of the First United Methodist church, the Masonic Lodge and the Order of Eastern Star in Sioux Rapids. He served for 12 years on the Sioux Rapids School Board.



1923 was the first accredited class to graduate from Lester High School.  This meant that they were eligible to go on to college.  There were other classes who graduated before, but the term "accredited" gave more prestige to the diploma.

The first class was as follows:  Linda Thiessen (deceased), Peter Hoogeveen (deceased), Delma Thiessen (deceased), Elmer Hartenhoff (deceased), and Maurine Wick Haegele.



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