Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

056_Rice School


056_Rice 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.

Digital Reproduction Information

JPEG scanned at 600 dpi resolution on an Epson Expression 10000XL Scanner

File Name



54 For the third year of operation our staff was increased by three teaching positions; an additional half time kindergarten, a half time music, a full time teacher for Unit A and a physical education teacher. Pleasant Hill School is one of the exceptions in this period of declining enrollment. The city of Pleasant Hill is a rapidly growing residential community. We will reach our rated capacity during the school year of 1975-76. This will present a new challenge to our school which was created to meet challenge. Principals who have served: 1972-1975 Kenneth Rouse 1975- Melvin Kiner Rice School Beaver and Adams Grades k-6 Dates of construction - 1910 1916 1925 1958 Site - 4.7 acres The building was named Byron Rice in honor of the fist appointed teacher and superintendent of the first organized school district in old Ft. Des Moines in 1849. The following year the school had 92 pupils. The P.T.A. was organized in October 18, 1910. Having no public utilities they carried parlor lamps and lanterns to the meetings. They bought equipment for the school including a gramaphone and the paintings of Washington and Lincoln. The school became a social center and in addition to programs with speakers on intellectual topics, parties such as "box socials" were also held. A description of one social is to be found in the Minutes of April 7, 1911 as follows: "The boxes containing delicate and delicious refreshments were sold and done justice to by all who indulged. The meeting one of the best of the year in which hearty good fellowship prevailed." In 1912 the P.T.A. led a vigorous campaign to defeat two proposals on the ballot at a school election in March. Members wre urged to vote "No" on the teaching of the physiology of the reproductive organs in the grades of the public schools, and "No" on the proposition of having school thirty-eight weeks a year. In May 16, 1913, the P.T.A. voted to buy a school banner for Rice. It was to be maroon and white with gold fringe. Committees were also formed for the purpose of getting sewing, music and manual training included in the curriculum. In 1916 two men were appointed as special police to stop auto speeding on Beaver Ave. in front of the schoolhouse. In 1918 no meetings were held in the school owing to the quarantine for Spanish influenza. In 1919 no meetings were held in November and December on account of the coal strike. A Miss Hartigan was principal during these early years and worked very closely with the parents in the interests of child welfare. Scales were purchased to weigh the children and determine those who were undernourished. Playground equipment costing $23.70 "Wholesale" was purchased at her urging. The P.T.A. raised money be selling lunches on election day. In May of 1922 a Visual Education fund was established and a flag and curtain were also purchased for the use of the school. By 1922 there were 160 families represented in the school and since the children upon graduating from Rice either attended North or West High, the P.T.A. sent delegates to each of their P.T.A. meetings. In 1923 the P.T.A. bought a second-hand oil stove for $10.00 and wicks for 65 cents. This was to aid them in serving noon lunches once each month. Also in 1923 Mr. Eickelberg became the new principal succeeding Miss Moulton. The minutes of October 25, show that he was called upon to address the P.T.A. and did so in an interesting manner. Construction on the new addition including the auditorium and gymnasium got under way at this time and a committee headed by the principal was appointed to see to the beautifying of the front lawn. They were allowed to spend to the limit of $25.00 for this purpose. In January of 1926 the Parent Teacher Association met in the new auditorium of the school building. Mid-year kindergarten classes were also started at Rice at this time. The new addition confronted the P.T.A. with the problem of providing equipment for the additional classrooms and the kitchen. As usual these energetic and willing women, many of whom still live in the area, came to the rescue and we find that during the first few months of 1926, they purchased $35.00 worth of geographical equipment, supplementary textbooks in arithmetric, material for kindergarten blocks, new stoves for the kitchen and a screen for motion pictures. In addition to that, in one month they made or mended 169 garments for the Red Cross. The most recent addition to Rice consisting of an office suite and 10 classrooms was completed and ready for occupancy in September of 1958. Rice today has an enrollment of 598 students in classes from kindergarten through sixth grade. It has special classes for those who need additional help and for those who are gifted. Earnest young musicians may take private lessons as well as participate in the school program of music. Recess finds the school ground covered with healthy, happy children. Nor does the activity stop when the school day is over. Pack 92 of the Cub Schouts uses the auditorium for their pack meetings. Little League uses the playground in summer for games and practice. When room is available, Adult Education classes are held at the school. It has been the polls for voting in elections for many years. Thus the school names Byron Rice on the corner of Beaver and Adams has truly been a crossroads of democracy since the day of its first planning.