Anderson Elementary opened its doors to students in 1985.
But the building has a much deeper history. Declining student numbers in South Wichita led to the creation of Grace Wilson Elementary School. Part of Wilson’s original school was used to create the new school which opened in 1954. Students from Wells, Greiffenstein, and Wilson made up the new student population.
The school was named for Grace V. Wilson, who served as supervisor of music for Wichita Public Schools from 1928 until her death in 1952. Wilson was born in 1881 near La Plata, Missouri. She was supervisor of music in Topeka and would serve that same position in Wichita. She was also a co-author of a series of Children’s’ music books called, “The American Singer.”
In 1984, construction began on the site, once again incorporating the original building into the new structure. The new building was named after prominent black educator, James E. Anderson.
Anderson served as the principal of Dunbar Elementary school for 30 years. He was also one of the founders of Wichita’s Head Start program. In 1970, Anderson was a delegate at the White House Conference on Children and Youth. He was a charter member of Wichita’s NAACP branch.
Shortly after his retirement, Anderson was killed in an automobile accident in 1978, he was 75. Dr. Dean Stucky, deputy superintendent of Wichita Public Schools, said, “Wichita lost one of its finest leaders, and I lost a friend.”
Mr. Anderson is interred at the Old Mission Chapel Mausoleum.
In 1989, the building was rewired with state-of-the-art wiring to accommodate a new pilot program that provided 250 computers – one for every two students.
In the 2000 bond issue, Anderson received a new addition and upgrades to the building.
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