In the late 19th century, a small one-room frame building in Wichita, Kansas, served as the humble beginning of Woodland Elementary School. This school was initially located at the corner of 16th Street and Salina but was soon moved to the Fairmount grounds in 1893. It was a modest start, with just 20 pupils enrolled in grades one through four. However, destiny had more in store for Woodland.
According to “A History of Wichita Public School Buildings,” in September 1907, the one-room building was moved back to its original location, and the Board of Education officially christened it “Woodland,” reflecting its location between the two rivers. Over the years, it expanded, adding a second room in 1908 and a third in 1910. Parents in the community recognized the need for a larger school.
The year 1920 brought a special gift to Woodland School: a new school building. As reported in the Wichita Eagle on December 26, 1920, the children believe that they received the best present – their new school building which recently was finished.”
On January 4, 1921, The Wichita Eagle reported that, “The Woodland school has moved into its new building and has everything of latest and most improved design. The patrons of the school have been hearing much about these improvements from the little folk who attend the school. It has even been reported that an electric spanker is one of the school’s acquisitions and one lady called the building Monday with a request to see it.”
An additional two rooms were added in June 1921, and the school was modernized in 1928 with sewer connections, water services, and toilet facilities.
Woodland School continued to improve and innovate. In 1964, with an enrollment of 460 pupils, two portables were removed, and classes for the educable mentally handicapped became part of the program. The school further evolved in 1967 when two classrooms were transformed into a library.
In March 1935, during the Dust Bowl, the school faced challenges from dust storms but persevered. The Wichita Beacon noted that, “Although the dust storm brought no general closing of schools in Wichita, permission was granted all teachers to dismiss classes when, in the judgment, the situation became dangerous. Woodland school closed long before noon. In the northwest part of town, the school is close to much open, plowed ground and conditions soon become intolerable.”
Woodland School also fostered a sense of competition and camaraderie. The 9th annual marble tournament, featured in the Wichita Eagle in April 1939, provided students with a healthy outlet for their competitive spirit. “The tournament, an institution at the Woodland School, is a project of Mrs. W. Thornburg, principal, who has a theory that if the boys and girls are interested in a tournament, with its rivalry for honor, there will be less tendency to play for “keeps” which she admits is still “a problem.””
A winter storm in March of 1939 led the Wichita Eagle to print a story about the school. “Early in the week when the snow was falling the youngsters stood by the window and wrote about the falling snow.”
A weird story popped up in November of 1942 in the Wichita Beacon. “A delegation of Woodland school students presented A. R. Edward, North High grid coach, with a signed document Tuesday backing the Redskins over the Blue Aces… The document was signed by over 300 Woodland students.”
In 1976, the school underwent significant renovations, thanks to the bond election of 1974. However, one of the most significant milestones in Woodland’s history came in the fall of 1992 when it transitioned into a health and wellness magnet school. This transition marked a new chapter in the school’s history, emphasizing the importance of health and well-being in education.
In April 2000, the Wichita School District approved a bond issue, leading to various improvements across the district. Woodland was not left behind, as it received a new addition that included a multipurpose room, kitchen, and two classrooms.
Today, Woodland Health and Wellness Magnet School stands as a testament to adaptability and commitment. From its humble beginnings in 1889 to its current status as a health and wellness-focused institution, Woodland Elementary School continues to serve the Wichita community with dedication and pride. Its rich history reflects the evolution of education and the enduring spirit of progress.