USGenWeb  History of
Sutherland Schools

Submitted by Donna Youde as written for the All School Reunion book for Sutherland's Sequicentennial

From the very beginning education was important to the early settlers of O'€™Brien County and Sutherland.Teaching fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic were vital to the young citizens of the area.

Country school buildings were going up at a fast pace, but since the older children were needed at home many did not go beyond the eighth grade. These wood frame and brick schoolhouses were being built every few miles with the teachers boarding with one of the local citizen's families.

In the early days the first school in Sutherland was held in the old Christian church building on Oak Street. Mrs. Jennie Baldwin taught the younger children there. Henry L. Chesley had the older children in Sheldon's Hall over Sheldon's Store; this was on the Northwest corner of Ash Street and 2nd Street. When Mr. Sheldon needed the space for the store all the classes were combined in the Christian church with Miss Susie Davis in charge of the older children and Mabel Messer taught the younger pupils. Teachers not from the area boarded with town residents.

In 1885 a wood frame school building was built in time for classes to start in September on Ash Street. It was from this edifice that the following students graduated from.
Picture of Old Wood frame School.

The little schoolhouse was built in 1912. When the old wood school had become too crowded it was necessary to build another building, the younger grades went to this building. This little schoolhouse was in the next block north of the school on Ash Street, it has become the General N.B. Baker Library.
315 Ash Street

In April of 1919 the south side of the wood school building began to sag, it was deemed unsafe for the children. School was dismissed early and the structure was repaired over the summer. School resumed in the fall.

Consolidation of the country schools was starting. On Nov. 15, 1919 a vote was taken and passed, the country schools had three years to implement their closings. All students from 9th grade through 12th grade would be required to attend school in town starting with the 1920 school year. Those country school buildings closest to Sutherland would be closing their school doors first. The name for the new school system would be Sutherland Consolidated School District.

1921 - It was decided by the Board of Education to tear down the old wood structure school building and build a more fitting environment for the children to learn and study in. During this time classes were held at various places within the community. The first five grades were in the little schoolhouse, the sixth, seventh and high school grades met on the second floor of the Innes building and the eighth graders went to the building that was vacated by Dr. V.J. Parker. As soon as all necessary remodeling of the little schoolhouse and the Innes building were accomplished the sixth grade moved to the little schoolhouse and the eighth grade moved to the Innes building. Recess and lunch times were at the City Park as weather permitted.

1921/22 - Work progressed for a full year, first the demolition and digging the new hole for the gymnasium. Brick and block walls were soon going up, creating the shell of this academic fortress, to be seen by all who passed by that first summer. The new 4-story brick building was built on the same site of the old wood school building. The 1st story would be underground with the 2nd story above the gymnasium open, an innovative structure, at this time of construction history.

The new school building was enclosed with the roof and windows completed before the snow blew that first winter. Workers labored long days and many citizens from the community helped were they could. They hauled mortar, nailed boards and laths, laid plaster, laid flooring, painted, and finished the woodwork. A tribute to the community that such a fine building could be completed in 18-months.

On December 18, 1922 the new 4-story brick school building on Ash Street was dedicated. (This is now the Willoway Complex.) Lieutenant Governor John Hammill was the guest speaker at the dedication ceremony. The American Legion presented an enormous American flag to be hung outside the school.

The rural country schools now taught only the younger students. Four busses went out to the country to pick up the older children. School Board members at this time were A.A. Innes, F.E. Tellier, H.J. Briggs, J.E. Sweeney, and A.H. Schultz. Ed Briggs was secretary and H.N. McMaster was treasurer. The community paid the debt of $120,000.00 in just over twenty-five years.
4 Story Brick School

1930 - The Tiger was chosen by the student body of the high school as their mascot. The students felt the need of a high school emblem and a committee composed of the class presidents was appointed to confer with Mr. Jones in an effort to find a desirable symbol. The tiger's head emblem will be worn on the sweatshirts the team wears to warm up in, it will surely serve to intimidate the adversaries of S.H.S. so that our future games will all be shining victories. This emblem will also be used in all sporting events and other school endeavors.

1938/39 - The publication of €œThe Duke(1983-1990) is perhaps the most notable achievement of the year, as it is the first annual ever to be attempted by the students of the Sutherland Consolidated School. The stir created by the notification that a committee of the high school faculty had selected the board justified the contention of its sponsors that there was a demand for such a publication. A committee of teachers selected the title The Duke, which was submitted by Johanna Thiessen, in honor of the Duke of Sutherland. Johanna received a free copy of the first annual for her efforts. The first annual was dedicated to Mr. Kirlin, Principal of the High School. The first staff members were Editor Leona Lohff, Associate Editor Kathleen O'Donnell, Sports Editor Merle Branstetter, Activity Editor Florence Jane Kas, Art Editor Doris Kopp, Business Manager Gerald Wehr, and Assistant Managers Bruce Dahlbo & Johanna Thiessen, Sponsor Miss Aitken.

1955/56/57 - Enrollment was very high and the need for a new modern facility to handle the overflowing classrooms was desired.

At the October 1955 School Board meeting the Board approved a bond issue vote totaling $363,000.00 for a new school building. The bond issue was approved 489 to 220 in the November 1955 vote. An unprecedented 69% approval.

Discussion then followed as to where the school would be built, the best design for the structure and which classes would use the new building.

It was decided; a new high school building was built along Highway 10. The three-story structure on Ash Street that has served the district so well will now be the elementary building. R.L. Kinkead was Superintendent, Victor Christensen was Principal; School Board members were V.S. Flinders as president, W.R. Steinert, Alvern Tjossem, Irvin Struve, and Myron Hill.
New Highway 10 School

1960/61 - Total school enrollments had dropped considerably at Sutherland, Calumet and Gaza; school reorganization laws in Iowa had changed allowing small schools to merge students, buildings and activities. 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. The school will now be called the Sutherland Community Schools.
Calumet School

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.

1991/92 - Sutherland was aligned in a whole-grade sharing program with Paullina and Primghar Schools. The graduation classes of 1991 and 1992 received their diplomas signed Sutherland High School.

1991/92 - The whole-grade sharing program developed into a merging of the schools to become South O'Brien Schools. Many were of like minds that Sutherland could survive on its own; maybe we could have and may be we would have been forced into an agreement with another district. The students made it work; they found new friends and had award-winning teachers to guide them on their journey. Starting with 1993 the diplomas said South O'Brien on them.

1993/94 - The three-story schoolhouse on Ash Street was closed; grades Kindergarten through 4th were moved into the school building on Highway 10. The remaining grades were realigned so that the 5th and 6th graders were also in the Sutherland building, 7th and 8th graders went to Primghar with grades 9 through 12 in Paullina.

1996/97 - Grades were realigned again. Kindergarten through 3rd and the 7th and 8th graders were at Primghar. Grades 5th and 6th were in Sutherland. Grades 9 through 12 were in Paullina.

The grades are realigned once again. Grades Kindergarten through 3rd are at Primghar, grades 4th through 6th are in Sutherland, grades 7th through 12th are at Paullina. On November 4, 2003 the South O'Brien School District Board of Education voted to close the Sutherland site. Grades Kindergarten through 6 would be in Primghar and 7th through 12th in Paullina.

In February 2004 the city of Sutherland purchases the Sutherland school building on Highway 10 for $1.00.
Highway 10 School

School Song

Hail to the Varsity
Cheer for the orange and black,
We're here to win this game
And victory we'll take back

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Fight on to victory
Cheer for the S. H. S.
Men of the Varsity
We all know you'll do your best.

School Superintendents

School Superintendents from 1923 were H.B. Benizer (1923-1928), E.L. Swanson (1928-1938), Edward D. Baird (1938-1950), John W. Micklick (1951-1953), R.B. Rogness (1954-1956), Richard L. Kinkead (1957-1958), Jack Heiffner (1959), & Russell Castor (1960-1965), James Rhode (1966-1983) and Bill Brandt (1984- 1990).

School Superintendents during the merging into South O'Brien
Superintendents for this time were: Richard Partlow (1991-1993), Michael Davis (1994-1998), Len Snyder (1999), James Patera (2000-2002) and interim Jerry Nichols (2003-2004).

High School Principals

Warner Kirlin (1939), Carl Sagness (1940-1942), Ross A. Barker (1943), A.L. Rubis (1944-1946), J.L. Adams (1947-1948), E.G. Brower (1949-1952), R.W. Robinson (1953-1956), Victor Christensen (1957-1958), Claison Groff (1959), Keith Culbertson (1960-1961), Gene Panning (1962-1963), Leon Stanford (1964-1982), Richard Bird (1983-1990)

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project