Site Navigation: History Homepage / Biographies Index / Building Index of Libraries and Schools / Ethnic History of Schools / FAQs - Did You Know? / First Things First / Historian's Roundtable of Wyandotte County / Maps and Land Records / One-Room Schoolhouses / Picture Gallery / Publications, Online Transcriptions, Links / Queries / Copyright/Disclaimer
Argentine Middle School
by R. L. Lyman, University of Chicago
The Hispanic Community, 1917-1930
THE EDUCATION OF MEXICAN-AMERICANS IN KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, 1916-1951 by Robert M. Cleary; B.A., Hunter College of the City University of New York, 1981; M.L.S., Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, 1993; Kansas City, Missouri 2002
The following history of Argentine High School was compiled in 1965 by Mrs. Hattie E. Poppino, Argentine Librarian.
"The present site of Argentine High School (Argentine Middle School in 2003) was occupied in 1884 by the Lowell Grade School and in that school was established the first "high school" in Argentine. It was a two-year course which led to the graduation in 1886 of two girls: Ella Erwin and Alta Turpie (Garr). Ms. Turpie taught two years at the Emerson Grade School before her marriage to Mr. Gear. In those days the requirements for elementary teachers were low and two years in high school was sufficient preparation.
By September 1889, the high school had been moved upstairs in the Bruce Grade School, the elementary school for colored children which later was known as the Lincoln School and which still stands at the corner of 24th and Strong Avenue. The term was only eight months and there were two teachers, Helen Kleinknecht, who was also principal, and Frank Argelius who later taught for many years at Emporia State Teachers College.
On June 5, 1891, at Nokes Opera House, the first graduation exercises were held for a four-year graduate, a class of just one girl, Bertha May Bell. The honor of being one of the first graduating class, therefore, depends upon whether one is speaking of a two-year high school or one with the present standard of four years.
By 1901, there were 88 high school students and the report of the Board of Education said that enrollment had doubled in the last three years. There were six graduates, two boys and four girls, and the Superintendent was asking for more room, more books for the library, and more apparatus for scientific demonstrations.
The silver smelter, which was the principal employer in the area, closed down during this year and enrollments for 1902 showed a small decrease. There were 73 pupils, still with two teachers and still housed in the two upper rooms of the Bruce School. There was a dropout problem in those days, too; twelve of the 73 did not complete the year 1902-03.
In September, 1903, Frances Taylor joined the faculty and remained a member of that body until her retirement in 1952. She saw many changes. The Emerson and Bruce Schools were damaged in the floods of 1903 and 1904, according to the report of the president of the Board of Education, and one of the most pressing needs was more room for the high school with its enrollment of 118. There was an old brick building at the corner of 24th and Silver, just two blocks south of Bruce School where the high school was housed, and this became a temporary school. It had housed the City Hall, the jail and the "work house" for many years, but now it was devoted to education until 1908 when the first high school building on the present site was erected.
This stone building was on the corner of 22nd Street and Elmwood, a street which still exists west of 22nd and south of Ruby as a narrow lane almost an alley, winding west up the hill. At that time it extended east to 21st Street, and the high school was on the southeast corner of Elmwood and 22nd. Later on, Elmwood became the driveway just north of the school, leading to the parking area to the east and was abandoned as a street. The block between Elmwood and Ruby was occupied by homes and the Ruby Avenue Congregational Church on the corner of 22nd Street.
In 1908, the west section of the nine-room stone building was completed; erected on the site of the old Lowell building at 22nd and Ruby. In September of the same year, it was occupied by six teachers and one hundred students; Minnie J. Oliverson was principal, and one room was used by the grade school. Eighteen students graduated in 1908. Two years later, typewriting and other business courses, domestic science, and manual training were added to the curriculum and an athletic program was introduced although coaching was done by one of the regular teachers, without special training in this field. There were no extracurricular activities. General assemblies and a Senior Play at the end of the year were the only diversions.
When Argentine ceased to be a separate town in 1910 and became part of Kansas City, Kansas, its school system was also merged with that of the city under Superintendent M. E. Pearson who had served since 1902 and continued until his retirement in 1932.
By 1918 the enrollment at Argentine High School had increased to 200, a gymnasium and a limited cafeteria had been installed in the basement, scenery and footlights had been added in the auditorium and an orchestra had been organized. In 1919 a coach was added to the faculty and athletics took on new importance. In the same year a small paper, "The Buzzer," was established, an annual was published and extracurricular activities increased.
For many years, the commercial department was outstanding. Under the leadership of G. C. Brink and later Grace Dale, the school held the state typewriting championship for 14 years continuously, the Kansan Trophy for 16 years and the District Championships for an equally long period. In 1921 Catherine Murray established a world record in national competition among high schools in the novice division, typing 72 words a minute.
In 1919 F. L. Schlagle became principal and served until 1924. During his tenure national and state honors were won in typewriting and journalism, state honors taken in music, and the school placed third in a scholarship meet at Emporia in 1923. An addition to the original building was constructed at a cost of $150,000 and in 1937 the school became a junior-senior high school with a faculty of twenty teachers. The new addition added eleven classrooms and a large auditorium.
The "A" Club had been organized in 1918 by a small group of lettermen and grew to the present organization made up of those who win one or more letters in the major sports: football, basketball, track and golf. The mustang was adopted as the school symbol in 1937 and in 1932 the Mustang Club was formed as a pep organization.
Mr. Schlagle became assistant superintendent of the city's schools in 1924 and superintendent in 1932 when M. E. Pearson retired. J. C. Harmon was appointed principal at Argentine High School and served until his retirement in 1954 when W. R. Channell succeeded him.
By 1930 enrollment had increased to 809 and a building was added south of the stone structure and connected by corridors. It was principally occupied by a gymnasium, but there were also eight more classrooms. By 1935, the enrollment was 1130 and the faculty numbered 29 teachers.
New emphasis on vocational training prompted the addition on the east side of this latest building in 1940. Seven shop units were set up and seven more classrooms opened. In 1942 Smith-Hughes shop courses were offered for the first time in this new plant.
In the summer of 1954 the original building of 1908 and its additions of 1927 were razed, along with a church and the residences facing Ruby Avenue and 21st Street, giving the school an entire square block. Before the 46-year old building was destroyed former studends held a reunion there to recall their high school days and mourn the loss of another landmark. Students attended classes on a half-day session plan during 1954-55; but by December 1956, the new building was completed. One and one-half million dollars was spent on this modern plant: a new auditorium building, offices, library, cafeteria, clinic and 16 new classrooms. At the same time, the gymnasium in the south building was remodeled and enlarged.
Argentine High School is proud of her long history and her rise from a little two-room school with two teachers to the present (1965) school with an average enrollment of 1200 and a staff of 53 classroom teachers, its principal and vice principal, two guidance counselors, a nurse and librarian, and four office employees, as well as custodial and cafeteria employees. But more than buildings and staff goes into the quality of a school. Argentine is proud of the men and women who have been students here, who are the products of our educational system. They are what really represent the school."
Dr. John Wherry, Dir of Public Information, KCKs Public Schools, 1973: "In the fall of 1973 Argentine High School became Argentine Middle School (as did Rosedale High School) with students in grades 10, 11 and 12 attending the just completed J C Harmon High School at 2400 Steele Road. Argentine and Rosedale Middle Schools were composed of students in grades 6, 7, 8 and 9. In the fall of 1973 Mr. Lawson Roberts, formerly principal at West Junior High School in Kansas City, Kansas, became principal at Argentine Middle School when Mr. W. R. Channell was transferred to the position of principal at the new F L Schlagle High School at 59th and Parallel in Kansas City, Kansas. In the same year, Argentine became a major instructional center for vocational education for high school and post high school students."
1882 - High school in City Hall. City Hall located at what was 24th and Silver Avenue (facing Silver Avenue ). "The city council had its chambers on t he 2nd floor, and the firemen had their sleeping quarters. One room as used as a public library. The remaining area of the second floor was sectioned off into classrooms for the students of high school age." Centennial History of Argentine, Kansas City, KS, 1880-1890.
1890 - High school held in Bruce School. Two-year course.
1890/91 - High school to new Emerson School. Superintendent was principal and teacher of 10th grade.
1897 - New building at 22nd and Ruby.
1904 - October 10: High school course of study changed to conform to university requirements.
1905 - February: Permission obtained from city commissioners to lease upper rooms in City Hall for high school.
1906 - October 1: Committee appointed by BOE to promote bill in legislature to permit vote on bonds for high school.
December 3: Attorney H J Smith drafted bill free of charge. BOE sent representatives to Rosedale High School and Representative Gordon in interest of bill. (Barnes High School Law)
1907 - March 11: Bill passed. To ask for $25,000 bond issue. Bonds illegal because notice of election not published long enough ahead. To hold another election.
June 10: Bonds carried.
August 5: Committee urged use of City Hall and not to erect high school.
Plans of Architect W W Rose most nearly in accord with view of BOE. W. W. Rose is architect to the KCKs Boe.
1895-1909 - W. W. Rose, Architect - Two of the most impressive schools from this period are Stowe Elementary (1899), with its rich display of materials and textures, and Argentine High School (1907-08), the sole educational structure designed by Rose that was built entirely of stone.
September 30: W A Drillinger awarded contract.
1908 - July 6: Completed west section of nine-room stone building. Erected on site of old Lowell building at 22nd and Ruby.
September: Occupied by six teachers and one hundred students. Minnie J Oliverson, principal. One room used by grade school
1910 - Became part of Kansas City school system when Argentine was annexed.
1916 - Accredited with North Central Association.
1920 - October 4: First PTA. Mrs. Mary E Helmrich, president.
1922 - Plans made to erect a junior high school.
1923 - Eleven rooms and auditorium added on east. Ten new teachers. Became junior-senior high school with 557 enrolled.
1930 - Gymnasium and eight classrooms added.
1931 - Armourdale pupils living west of 10th and south of Union Pacific Tracks reassigned to attend Argentine instead of Wyandotte after leaving Central Junior.
1934 - Mr. Seth Patterson paid aid for installation of public address system.
1938-39 - First athletic field owned by district for use by the school.
1939 - December: Apprenticeship program introduced. Sponsored by Kansas City Structural Steel Company.
1940 - Addition to shop. Four rooms, laboratory music rooms, and shops. Funded by WPA.
January 23: Addition dedicated. Howard T Hill, Kansas State College, speaker.
1941 - Shops took active part training for war work.
1953 - November 20: Construction begun on new building. Joseph Radotinsky, architect. (Note: Joseph Radotinsky was also on the architectural teams for Mather Hall, KCKs City Hall on 6th Street, Memorial Hall, Wyandotte High School and Vernon Elementary School)
1954-55 - Classes on half-day sessions.
1954 - April 13: All school reunion held. Last year for old building.
Summer: Old north section razed.
September 8: Reception for Mr. W. R. Channell, new principal, and Mrs. Channell.
December: New gymnasium, twice size of old.
1956 - November: New building completed (auditorium, library, cafeteria) at 21st and Ruby.
December 10: Dedication of building. Dr. Franklin Murphy, Chancellor of Kansas University, speaker.
1959 - A parking area was graded and surfaced.
1972-73 - Last year as junior-senior high school.
1973-74 - Middle school serving grades 6-9. J C Harmon High School opened, serving grades 10-12 for students from former Argentine and Rosedale Jr-Sr High Schools.
1977 - In early 1977, the district received a decision from the United States District Court which did not require major and mandatory relocation of students, but did require the desegregation of Northeast Junior and Sumner High Schools. That decision had been appealed to the Tenth Circuit of the Federal Courts by the Department of Justice in the hope of securing a ruling to require a "racial balance" in all schools. Such a decision would have required the mandatory relocation of thousands of students by a system of cross-districting busing. At this point, only voluntary racial balance transfers were required at the elementary school level. Northeast Junior High was to be closed and its students and teachers reassigned to other schools. Sumner was to be converted to an academic magnet school in 1978. A committee of parents had spent the previous four months working through meetings to assure the smooth integration of pupils from Northeast Junior into Central, Rosedale, Argentine, Arrowhead and Eisenhower. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science was scheduled to open in September, 1978, as part of the desegregation plan. "Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86," by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987 (pg. 50-52)
1982-83 - Grade 9 assigned to high school. Argentine now serves grades 6-8.
2002 - Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Argentine was part of Phase II, which was completed in the summer of 2002.
2003 - Auditorium renamed in honor of Saturnino Alvarado.
2004 - Received a "Great IDEAS" grant (funded/sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Fund) for the 2004-05 school year, which encourages teachers in SLC's (Small Learning Communities) to work together to develop innovative programs and projects to improve student learning. Received $4,489.
(before annexation to Kansas City, KS in 1910)
1891 - Professor Hollister / 1892 - Charles R Sorter / 1893-97 - Unknown / 1898 - A Warrington / 1899 - Miss Margaret Rush / 1900-07 - H P Butcher
1882-90 - Possibly Superintendents / 1891 - Professor Hollister / 1892-83 - Charles R Sorter / 1894-95 - S M Simmons / 1895-98 - Margaret Rush / 1899 - H P Butcher / 1900-01 - Margaret Rush / 1902 - Helen Kleinknecht / 1903-04 - Frank Agrelius / 1905-09 - Minnie Oliverson / 1910-15 - F D Tracy / 1915-19 - Clarence T Rice / 1919-24 - F L Schlagle / 1924-54 / J C Harmon / 1954-74 - W R Channell / 1975-80 - Lawson M Roberts / 1981-87 - Larry Chanay / 1987-98 - Glenn D Schoenfish / 1998-2005 - John D. Rios / 2005 - Sabina Gonzales-Hacker / 2006 - Jereme Brueggeman
"Argentine, the second largest town of Wyandotte county, is located in the extreme southeastern portion on the south bank of the Kansas river and on the Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe railroad, about 4 miles west of Kansas City, Mo. Late in the '70s the railroad located their transfer depot, side tracks, round house, coal chutes and sheds near the present town site, and within a short time a considerable settlement had sprung up. The land was surveyed and platted in 1880 and originally consisted of 60 acres of land owned by James M. Coburn. The Kansas Town company obtained a charter on April 9, 1881, and immediately organized with a capital of $100,000. The incorporators were William B. Strong, George O. Manchester, Joab Mulvane, J. R. Mulvane and E. Wilder and the same body of men were the directors for the first year. Joab Mulvane was elected president and manager of the company; and E. Wilder, secretary and treasurer. This new company purchased 415 acres of land adjoining the first town site, and after giving the Kansas City, Topeka & Western railroad what it desired for railroad purposes, the remaining 360 acres was laid out as Mulvane's addition to Argentine and placed upon the market. In 1882 Argentine was incorporated as a city of the third class, having acquired by that time the required number of inhabitants for a city government. The first Tuesday in August an election was held for city officials, at which time G. W. Gully was elected mayor; John Steffins, W. C. Blue, Patrick O'Brien, A. Borgstede and George Simmons, councilmen; J. H. Halderman, city clerk; A. J. Dolley, police judge; and Charles Duvall, marshal.
In the winter of 1881 a public school was opened and the citizens saw the necessity for a public school building. On Aug. 28, 1882, an election was held to vote on the question of issuing bonds to the amount of $7,000 for such a purpose, and the proposition was carried by a large majority. Work was at once started on the first school building. A postoffice was established in 1881 and has been enlarged several times in proportion to the growth of the city. The Congregational church was the pioneer religious organization, as services were held in the summer of 1881 and the following year a church building was erected.
One of the first commercial enterprises in the town was the Kansas City Refining and Smelting company which located there in 1880. This was for many years the largest plant in the country. The capital stock of the original company was $200,000 and over 250 men were employed from the start. It was built for the purpose of refining gold and silver bullion, shipped from the other smelters, but the company also carries on lead smelting and the manufacture of various commercial products from the other metals that are recovered in the refining process, chief of which are blue and white vitriol. Copper is made from the vitriol and in 1896 more than a million and a half pounds of this metal were put on the market from the Argentine plant. At the present time the company has a paid up stock of more than $3,000,000 and is the leading manufactory of the town.
Many other commercial enterprises have located in Argentine because of the excellent transportation facilities. It has extensive railroad repair shops, large factories for the manufacture of iron products, and many retail stores. Today Argentine is a well paved city with excellent water and lighting systems, street railway, good public school system, many churches, good hotels and is an extensive banking town. The population in 1910 was 6,500."
Pages 95-97 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012