Blazing the Trail

Kansas City Star Article
Kansas City Star Article, 1958

Fundraising at Prairie took off in the 1950s. The school carnival netted $1,200 and the annual paper sales brought in $2,000. In 1951, the faculty 8th grade Basket Brawl, earned $1,000.

During 1951, the Johnson County Library was conceived and planned by members of the Prairie Library Committee under the leadership of Mrs. Mark Robeson. Spearheading a community effort, the committee worked the next three years to see the library materialize in 1955.

The 1953 basketball team, coached by Leroy Higgins, ended its season with an outstanding record – 18 straight victories in a row. Starting with three victories the preceding March, they went through the season winning nine regular season games and the Turner and Shawnee Mission tournaments.

In addition to the athletic program, Prairie students enjoyed other school activities. Each year the students participated in a school play. The 8th graders chose a king and queen to preside over the annual Valentine Dance. Graduation exercises were followed by a program dance held in the gymnasium.

In 1955, all 7th and 8th grade students left Prairie for the new Indian Hills Junior High School. Norman Babcock became the first principal at Indian Hills, and several upper grade teachers left Prairie to staff the new school. Charles F. Malone took over as principal of Prairie, and the school re-oriented as a kindergarten through 6th grade institution.

In 1956, Mrs. Mildred Ross started teaching a Special Education class at Prairie, and two years later five blind children were integrated into four first grade rooms at Prairie – the result of a program designed by the Prairie District. This was the first area program in Kansas for blind children. Mrs. Helen Howe, resource teacher, instructed them in Braille and worked with their teachers to plan individual study programs at Prairie.

Foreign language in the form of conversational Spanish was added to the curriculum in 1959. An exchange teacher from Peru taught Spanish to the 6th grade.

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Research conducted by Mrs. Jeanne Tapp, May 1972 (sources cited here).