Spaght Science and Communications Magnet Elementary School

2316 E 10th St N, Wichita, KS 67214

In 1900 a new school building opened at Ninth and what is now Indiana. The school was named Ingalls.

The school was named in honor of John J. Ingalls, a United States Senator from Kansas.

John J. Ingalls

Ingalls was born in Massachusetts in 1833 and moved to Sumner in the Kansas Territory in 1858.  He settled in Atchison to practice law believing the state had a bright and promising future.

At just 26, Ingalls was the driving force behind making Kansas a state. He is credited with creating our state motto,” Ad astra per aspera” (to the stars through difficulties.)

John James Ingalls

He served as secretary of the state senate during the first legislative session following statehood.

He also represented Kansas as a U.S. Senator from 1873 – 1891.

Ingalls’ political career ended in 1891, when he lost to a Populist.

Ingalls Statue at the U.S. Capitol
Courtesy: The Architect of the Capitol

Ingalls died in 1900 and was buried in his hometown of Atchison. In 1905, he was honored with a marble statue in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Getting back to the new school… a month after opening it burned down. The Wichita Beacon on 10/10/1900 said the fire appeared to be arson.

In March 1901, the Board of Education started construction of a new eight-room schoolhouse at the same location.

In March of 1927, the construction of a new school at 10th and Grove started. The Board decided to name the new school Ingalls.

Additions were made to the school in 1930, 1952 and 1962.  

The fall of 1992 brought a new name and new direction to Ingalls. The school changed its emphasis to geography. Each grade level was assigned a continent to study. The school was renamed Ingalls World of Knowledge Magnet Elementary School.

In 1997, the school district closed Ingalls World of Knowledge Magnet and reopened it as Ingalls Edison Academy

At the end of the 2001-02 school year, Ingalls was no longer part of the Edison Project. 

A memorial honoring their past on Spaght’s schoolgrounds

In July 2002, the Board unanimously voted to change Ingalls to Samuel E. Spaght Accelerated Magnet Academy.

Sam Spaght is a name that might not be familiar to most people, but his contributions to Wichita’s education community are worth remembering. Spaght was a trailblazer and a leader who dedicated his life to bringing about changes in Wichita’s public schools, especially in promoting racial equality.

Samuel Spaght

Spaght was born on July 8, 1932, in Omaha.  His family moved to Wichita, and he attended Wichita High School East and Wichita State University.  He also served as a corporal in the U.S. Army.

Spaght’s father, Rev. Samuel Spaght, was a popular minister in Wichita he preached at the Ninth St. Church of God for ten years until his death on December 13, 1959.  The reverend’s wife passed away the very next day on December 14.

Spaght began his career in education as a middle school English teacher, but his passion for social justice and equity led him to serve on the boards of many community organizations. He was a fierce advocate for racial equality, and his tireless efforts in this area earned him several awards, including the A. Price Woodard Jr. Award in 1979 and the Up with People Award in 1990.

One of Spaght’s most significant achievements was becoming the first African American to hold a high-level position within the Wichita public school system. In 1971, he took office as the director of staff development, in 1989 he became assistant superintendent, and later associate superintendent of curriculum delivery services, which he served until his death. This was a tremendous feat, given the tumultuous era in which he worked. However, his warmth, sense of humor, and tireless efforts in bringing racial equality to Wichita Public Schools helped him to overcome the challenges he faced.

Spaght’s legacy goes beyond his work in promoting racial equality. He was also instrumental in developing the Urban League’s bank training and leadership development programs, which allowed African Americans and other minorities to gain training for entry-level jobs and prepare for service on public boards and committees. Furthermore, he played a vital role in Wichita’s Total Desegregation Program, and his work resulted in millions of dollars being allocated for the Wichita Public School District.

Despite his achievements and contributions, Spaght remained an intensely private man. He dedicated 41 years of his life to bettering public education, and he passed away on May 12, 2000, after losing his battle with cancer.

He is interred in the Veterans section at Old Mission Cemetery.  His wife, Peggy joined him 13 years later January 14, 2013.

On September 5, 2002, a celebration was held to honor the man for whom the school is named.

In 2008, classrooms were updated with the newest technology and multimedia resources and the school transitioned to Samuel E. Spaght Multimedia Magnet began.

In 2014, the school was renamed again.  It is now known as Samuel E. Spaght Science and Communications Magnet.

Check out Wichita’s other public schools: Be True To Your School

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