Waller Road Elementary to celebrate 100 years

Children will visit original Woodrow School and wear period clothing

Staff writerMay 7, 2014 

Before Waller Road Elementary School, there was the Woodrow School that opened in 1913. It served a student population of 14.

PUYALLUP SCHOOL DISTRICT/COURTESY PHOTO

Waller Road Elementary School’s celebration of its 100 years as a school will be from 4-7 p.m. on May 31.

It will include a spaghetti dinner and music provided by the Waller Road drum ensemble and the Waller Road chorus and junior chorus.

“Jim Geise will give a short history of the school,” said event coordinator and Waller Road music teacher Laurie Haakons. “As part of the event, the school will be opened for visitors so they can go through the current school and also go through the old Woodrow School.”

The Woodrow School, at the Waller Road Grange across from Waller Road Elementary, is the original one-room school house built in 1913. The first class of Woodrow School was 14 students. An alumni of that class was Jim Geise’s father, Rudy.

The Woodrow School was designated as Waller Road School District 123 in 1913. In 1936, a new brick building was constructed on Waller Road and the school board voted to change the name to Waller Road Elementary School. The Waller Road School District 123 consolidated with the Puyallup School District on June 30, 1950.

Today, Waller Road Elementary serves a population of 300 students — fairly small, compared to most elementary schools that serve 500 to 700 students, Haakons said.

Gentry Geise, Jim’s wife, is a teacher at Waller Road. She’s taught at the school for more than 20 years. Gentry and Jim’s daughter attended the school and now their grandson, Milo, is a sixth grader.

“What is special about Waller Road are the families,” Gentry Geise said. “It’s amazing how many families (in the school) are related. I have had kids in my class whose parents I had, or aunts and uncles I had. The thread that I’ve seen come through the school is strong families.”

Every June, the third-grade class has the opportunity to walk to Woodrow School at the Waller Road Grange where they spend the day living life like it was for students in 1913.

“It’s an amazing experience for all the children,” said Linda Egeland, a paraeducator at the school.

On May 31, children attending the celebration also will share in that experience. Haakons said they’ll have the opportunity to dress in period clothing and play games that were current in 1913.

“We really want it to be about the kids,” Haakons said. “We want it to be kid-friendly and family-friendly.”

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