By Dena Angaran Forret
The Waukee Presbyterian Church, built in 1870, served three years as the first schoolhouse in Waukee for a total of three students. The first school building was built in 1874 or 1875 and consisted of two schoolrooms and two recreation rooms with 85 students attending. A principle, a teacher, and a four-member school board governed the primary education process of these students. By the turn of the century, the curriculum consisted of nine grades.
In 1901, a brick, four-room schoolhouse was built and divided into four sections – primary, intermediate, grammar and high school which consisted of two grades.
On July 19, 1917, the Waukee Consolidated School District was formed, replacing the five country schools that dotted the township prior to the merging. The Waukee school system now included a superintendent, horse-drawn buggy transportation to school, and a four-year fully accredited high school curriculum. My cousins and I attended this school, transported by bus from Shuler Camp to town.
Due to the growth in the mining community and overcrowding in the town school, it was more cost effective to build a new school for the mining children. On January 4, 1926, a school opened in the Shuler Mine Camp to educate children from grades one through six and it included an athletic program of football and baseball. In 1928 night classes were added to educate camp immigrants who were seeking American citizenship, some who were attending school for the first time. My mother, Lena Pedretti Angaran, helped teach English to these immigrants.
Bruno Andreini, my first cousin, shares, “Shuler school was one of the most important locations in the Shuler mining community. This was the place designated to communicate the community’s most important necessities of everyday life for the camp population, young and old alike.
The building was first and foremost a place to educate the three mining camp’s children from one through third grade. The school was the center point of the community including religious education classes and a place to educate many of the community’s immigrant population who needed to learn the minimum English required by our country to gain U.S. citizenship. There were play grounds similar to a small park where children played and a baseball diamond that the Shuler baseball team used for many of its summer games.”
Eatilo Angaran, one of my dad’s brothers, was a pitcher for the Shuler Coal Camp team. He later advanced to the minor-league ranks playing against greats like Bob Feller and Hal Manders.
Images of America Waukee
Photos courtesy of Waukee Area Historical Society