Submitted by Donna Youde
Calumet School History
Information came from the Sutherland Courier newspapers.
The early settlers in Liberty Township, O'Brien County, Iowa were looking to have a complete school system in their township. So they organized a school district consisting of nine sub-districts. A school building was constructed near the center of each sub-district, this allowed that no child would have to walk further than one mile to school. Sub-district Number 1 would not have a school built because it was along Sutherland's west side and most of these students were going into Sutherland to attend classes. The school system was called Liberty Township Independent School District, one of a few such districts in Iowa not associated with any community.
The students who lived in Calumet attended Center school, which was outside of the community. So all the children in town had to walk out of town to attend school. In the late 1890's the citizens within Calumet tried to sneak in a vote for a tax to build a school in Calumet. Farmers caught wind of the plan and the plan was defeated.
In 1900, the Center schoolhouse was moved into town.
By 1920, a new cement block building was constructed and two years later a brick addition was built onto the block building, creating a formidable building housing grades primary through 10th.
The 1923/24 school year, was the first year the Liberty Township Independent School District had a full 12 grades.
A fire consumed the entire inside of the building on March 1, 1925. The report cards that were due to be handed out the next day were lost, as were all the records in the building. Students who were able to attend other another school in the township did, the rest attended classes in the two churches and a couple of businesses in Calumet. On March 1, 1926 the new school house was dedicated, this building cost the township $47,000.00.
In 1930, there were still 7 country schools and the one in Calumet.
Liberty Township Independent School opened in the fall of 1942 with one of their highest school enrollments to date. There were 155 students, 47 in high school and 108 in the grade school. The primary class had 15 students and the senior class had 8 students. Theodore R. Speed was Superintendent of Schools.
In November of that same year, Liberty Township Independent School District made their last school bond payment of $3000.00. The school bond had been issued for $120,000.00.
A dedication of the Liberty Consolidated School at Calumet was held on October 1, 1953, there were no more country schoolhouses. It still used this name in 1960.
By 1958, the school board knew they would have to do something drastic as school enrollment was dropping considerably. The decision was made to look into merging the schools of Calumet, Sutherland and Gaza. In 1960, the decision was voted on. The last graduating class from Liberty Consolidated Schools at Calumet was 1961.
For the 1961-1962 school year, and for many years to come, grades 10 through 12 were in Sutherland in the high school building on Highway 10. Grades 7 through 9 were in Calumet and the elementary grades were in the old school on Ash Street in Sutherland. There would be no students in the Gaza building. The school will now be called the Sutherland Community Schools.
In 1983/84, after many heated debates and many hours of meetings it was decided to close the Calumet school site. Declining enrollment and lack of funds by the district to repair the building to standards have forced the hand of the school board.
O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project