Mary Kelly Elementary School started in 1954. The school board was trying to keep up with growth in south Wichita due to Boeing and McConnell. There was no permanent school until 1957. Up until that time the school used portables, at one point there were 21 portables to accommodate the 700 students.
The permanent building was dedicated in 1957.
The school was named for Mary Kelly, born on April 7, 1870. She was educated in Wichita’s earliest schools.
She started teaching at Irving Elementary in 1892. In 1902 she was named head of the mathematics department at the new Wichita High School East. After 47 years in education, Kelly retired in 1939. According to the Wichita Eagle, she lived at the Hillcrest Apartments. She was never married.
Mary Kelly passed away on August 10, 1941.
In her obituary, The Wichita Eagle wrote, “She leaves a host of friends to mourn her passing, former schoolmates, former pupils and fellow-teachers all of whom felt the value of her exceptional worth to Wichita and paid tribute to her commanding personality in this community.”
Kelly was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.
Kelly school received an addition in 1962, making Kelly the first all-electrically heated school in Wichita. It also held a full sized library, one of only four schools in Wichita. At the time most schools just had a small classroom collection.
In 1996, the Board of Education changed the name of Kelly Elementary School to Kelly Liberal Arts Academy.
Renovations and improvements were made in 2001 and 2003.
I was curious about the sculpture on the school’s north side. I reached out to the principal, Nikki Vossman.
She said the sculpture, “The Search for Knowledge,” was by Ted Krone along with students in 5th grade. The sculpture was made during the 2000-2001 school year.
Krone was born in Dallas, Texas in 1948. He attended Ft. Hays State, Wichita State, and Friends University. He also served on the faculty at Friends. He is now retired.
Check out Wichita’s other schools.