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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Clara Barton School

Clara Barton School - 1936Location: 25th and Cheyenne

Building Closed: Destroyed by the 1951 flood.

Other Names:  The Mexican School

Picture Gallery

NOTE: All signs of Clara Barton School are gone today (Dec 2002). The 1951 flood was devastating for that area. Today you see business related to salvage and auto parts in the area, with a few homes.

Saturnino Alvarado
and his fight for the Mexican students in the Kansas City, Kansas schools

"The yard was so small that the front building was flush with the side of the street, and the steps were in the street.  There was so little space to the north that special permission had to be obtained to have out-door toilets closer to the building than the code permits.  Later the original primary room was converted into restrooms with modern plumbing."  (Mina Cheney, former principal)

The Clara Barton School with Mina Cheney's Recollections
by Ed Shutt II

Mina & Miriam Cheney
by Ed Shutt II

Architectural Analysis - Public School Buildings (New/Additions) by Rose and Peterson - 1890-1927

PRESENTING THE PAST by Edwin Dale Shutt, II
History of the Schools:  Part X-Clara Barton, John Fiske, Junction Elementary, J.J. Lewis, Thomas Edison and Carlisle Schools
Silver City Record, Kansas City, KS, 1977

"St. John the Divine Parish School at 2511 Metropolitan Avenue served the needs of the Spanish speaking Mexicans of Argentine. There also was a public school that served this Mexican-American community, the Clara Barton School located at 24th and Cheyenne. Prior to the 1951 flood, there was a sizable Mexican-American community in north Argentine between Goddard Viaduct and Kansas Avenue. 

In the early 1920s and prior to then, some Mexican-American children were attending John Fiske and Emerson. However, racial discrimination and school segregation were prevalent in that era. Civic and PTA organizations in Armourdale and Argentine requested that a separate public elementary school be built and maintained for the Mexicans. It was felt that as many as 150 pupils could attend this school.

In 1923, a three room school house was built on 24th and Cheyenne at the north end of the Goddard Viaduct which was then also called the "Horse Shoe Viaduct." The school included grades one through eight. The first faculty consisted of Miriam Cheney the Principal (1923-36), Audrey Ketchum and Irene Beazell. Some other distinguished teachers of the school included: Maria Hernandez, Wilma Junker, Helen Witherspoon (Rickey), Loretta Riley (Hartung), Miana Cheney, Gladys Capron, Mildred Merrill, Florence Medvid, Elizabeth S. Miller, and Mary Cordner.

One room was added to the Clara Barton School in 1928 and another in the middle 1930's. The school was in operation for twenty-eight years and the peak enrollment may have been as many as 150 students. The building was destroyed by the 1951 flood and was not rebuilt. The site's four lots of land were sold to a salvage company in March of 1967."

(Note:  In 2005, Mr. Lupe Gonzales of Kansas City, Kansas shared the following with us:

SUMMARY

Clara Barton Class 19381918 - Emerson parents/community wanted separate school for Mexican students. The result at that time was a basement room at Emerson for the Mexican students.(The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

Dec 2, 1922 - After months of protests and complaints taken up as a project by the A.A.A. (Argentine Activities Association), the Argentine civic groups gained the confirmed consent of the school board for a separate school for the Mexican children. (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

Dec 5, 1922 - Three days later, at a meeting of the school board, important numbers had changed.  What had been 150 Mexican students was now 125 and the size of the building would be three rooms, not four.  The original room to student ratio of thirty-seven was now increased to forty-one.  (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

1923 - No plans were made for other schools in the district, other than the Argentine district.  Mexican students were educated in the basements of other schools.  (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

By limiting the Clara Barton School to one-story and three rooms, the district was left with no alternative but to create an annex at the Ingalls School.  Since deportation was an option when Mexican labor was no longer needed, the school board met with Santa Fe officials to determine if there would be a permanent Mexican labor force in Argentine, which was confirmed. (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

The creation of Clara Barton School and the annex at Ingalls did not "solve" the Mexican "problem."  Plans had been made to combine the Melville and Greystone schools in the Rosedale district to make the Major Hudson School for grades 1-8.  Anglo parents in Rosedale demanded that four Mexican boys in the fifth grade not attend the new Major Hudson, but they did.  At the same time, the old Melville School was used exclusively for Mexican children for grades 1-4 and eventually for grades 1-6 by the beginning of the 1924 school year.  (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

The same four Mexican boys enrolled in the Major Hudson School with the Anglo children on Sept 6, 1924 and by the afternoon, 200 Anglo parents encircled the building in protest.  By threatening "bodily injury" to the Mexican children, they forced officials to remove the four boys.  Police escorted the Mexican to their homes.  Mexican parents removed their children from school entirely, rather than allow them to attend the Mexican Annex.  The Major Hudson incident inspired the beginning of resistance to segregated education, and the Mexican parents enlisted the Mexican consul in Kansas City, Missouri and the Union Cultural Mexicana to lobby the major and the school board for admission to the integrated school.  (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO Public Library)

1923 - Three-room school established for Mexican children at request of Argentine and Armourdale patrons. Located at bend of "horseshoe" viaduct.

Miriam Cheney was first Principal. Audrey Ketchum and Irene Beazell were the first teachers.

NOTE: Rose/Peterson, Architects - There are two structures that have been attributed to W. W. Rose and one structure to Rose and Peterson which have been examined in this survey. The buildings include Park Elementary School (demolished) and Clara Barton Elementary School (demolished). At the time of this writing, adequate documentation to corroborate these attributions has not been found. 

1924 - May: School to be called Clara Barton School. Named for founder of American Red Cross.

Note:  Within the next year or so, Saturnino Alvarado began his fight with the KCKs Public Schools to allow his children to attend Argentine High School. It would mark the beginning point of the fight for Mexican and Anglo students attending school in integrated schools, and would involve interaction between students, parents, school board, Mexican Consulate, Wyandotte County District Attorney, Kansas Governor and District Attorney and the US State Department. Mr. Alvarado's children (Luz and Jesse) were among the first Mexican-Americans to graduate from Argentine High School.

1936 - Elizabeth S. Miller from Cooper School, Principal after the death of Miriam Cheney.

1951 - Destroyed by the flood.

July 23, 1951 - report by Lewis Brotherson to the KCKs BOE:  "It is too early to estimate the damage to our buildings and equipment.  We removed the furniture from the Clara Barton School before the flood and we have not seen the building since that time.  We have been informed that it has been moved from its foundation and broken in two.  We have also been advised that virtually the entire area served by the Clara Barton School is a total loss.  These reports have not been verified."

1951 - Overall history on this school's involvement with the 1951 flood.

PRINCIPALS

1923-36 - Miriam Cheney (died 1936) / 1936-39 - Viola Arnold / 1939-50 - Elizabeth Miller / 1950-51 - Sybil Fisher

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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