Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

053_Perkins School


053_Perkins School


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.



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During the period of construction of the new addition (1948-50) some classes were held in the basement of the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church and at Jefferson School. On March 23,1950, the public was invited to tour the new facilities and to see "the very latest in school room equipment; an intercommunication system; a special alarm system; sound-proof music practice rooms; gymnasium; auditorium, which will seat 450 children or 350 adults; and a new heating plant equipped with an automatic stoker. One item of particular note is the distinctive animal motifs used to decorate panels at the kindergarten entrance. These are the result of a project in Miss Spizz's art classes and pupils whose designs adorn this entrance are John Bellizzi, Suzanne James, Sherry Pennington, Leslie Rump, LaMar Myers and Karen Nash. In 1957, Mr. C. I. Pease, after serving eighteen years as principal at Brooks School, was assigned to Park Avenue. In 1968, the School Bond issue before the city voters included an addition for Park Avenue which provided ten classrooms (open space), a new media center, and an addition to the cafeteria. The old building was torn down. Beginning in the year of 1972, the primary grades have been taught in the open space classroom areas while the upper grades have received their instruction in the traditional classrooms. However, the organizational pattern for all of the pupils has been based on the IGE (Individually Guided Education) concept. Pupils are grouped and taught within units instead of within grades by teams of teachers. Park Avenue pupils are divided into three units. In the fall of 1974, a learning disabilities class, on a half-day basis, was started. In the fall of 1975, this class will be expanded to serve more children and will be all day. Two additional classes will be placed at Park Avenue to serve children from the Southside who have learning problems. A primary Educable Mentally Retarded class will also be located at Park Avenue beginning in 1975-76 school year. Children from the South side will attend this center. A list of the Park Avenue principals, is given below: 1907-1912 Anna Wertz 1912- 1913 Laura Matthews 1913-1918 W. Lee Jordan 1918-1919 C. E. Nickle 1919-1941 J. O. Mitchell 1941 -1957 Feme Thorne 1957 -1966 C. I. Pease 1966 -1974 Irene Perkins 1974 - Howard Hart PERKINS SCHOOL (Photograph) 43rd and College Grades K-6 Dates of construction- Site—10 acres -1918 One-fourth 1920 One-fourth 1926 One-fourth .1952 One-fourth 1975 Cafetorium The school was named in memory of David G. Perkins, former superintendent of the West Des Moines Schools in 1870. Mr. Perkins died in 1907. He was best known for introducing calisthenics into the Des Moines Schools. Mr. Perkins served as secretary to the Board of Education and later as Polk County Superintendent of Schools. He was commissioner of the Iowa Educational Exhibit at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia on 1876. In 1919, Perkins P.T.A. had $14.00 in its treasury. There was a demonstration of a new victrola on the market, and a dinner was held for all Perkins families to raise $85.00 for the first payment on the new school victrola. Later $35.00 was raised to complete the payments! The agenda for one of the P.T.A. meetings included such stimulating subjects as "How to know your sons pals.11, "When should father tell his son the Life Story?11, "Should the fighting spirit be encouraged?11, and "Is the workbench in the basement worth the money?11. The Perkins P.T.A. paid for part of the first scales used by the school nurse to weigh the children. Amos Hiatt Junior High and Park Avenue School had been built and the problems arising in their schools were discussed at our meetings. In 1920 Perkins school asked that College Avenue be paved. In 1925 the first pre-school mother group was formed and became most active. Sidewalks on College Avenue from 44th to 41st street were paved and also on 44th to Hickman. The P.T.A. bought the first musical instruments for the school; a drum, triangle and cymbal. In September of 1927 they had to close the school because of extremely hot weather. The first immunization of our children was started in 1928, a program condemning the "jazz age11 and its effects on our youlth was given at a P.T.A. program, eight stall bars for the gym were installed and three victrolas were purchased for the school. Perkins teachers and children contributed 100% to the Red Cross in 1941 and were recommended highly to see the movie "Smilin1 Thru11 with Jeannette McDonald and Gene Raymond. The P.T.A. still met in the community room, held nutrition classes at night, and donated cookies each month to the U.S.O. During World War II in 1943-44 Perkins had 485 pupils and 14 teachers. War Bond sales were urged, workers rolled bandages for the Red Cross, coat hangers and old papers and magazines were collected and sold 53,325 pounds were collected during the year and Perkins led the city in this drive. The sum of $275.00 was received when they were sold. Perkins also led the city in the War Bond Drive, selling $7,325 worth of war bonds.