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School History


  • 625 South Valley; also listed as Valley St. and Wyoming Ave.

  • 1912 City Directory:  Valley s.e. corner Wyoming Ave.

Named for: John Fiske – American philosopher and historian


1904 – April 12:  Residents of the west end (Sixth Ward) asked for a school north of Osage Avenue and west of Tenth Street

May 3:  Henry McGrew sold to board, Lots 21-27, Block (1) 25, in Armourdale.

May 16:  To erect four-room, brick building at Valley and Wyoming.

Architect was W. W. Rose.  Address shown as South Valley St. and Custer Ave.  (Rose and Peterson Architects, 1994)

1895-1909 – W. W. Rose, Architect – There are three schools from this period of Rose’s career that display elements of the Second Renaissance Revival:  Kansas City, Kansas High School (1897-99 et seq.), Bancroft Elementary School (1900), and Quindaro Elementary School (1906).   Bryant Elementary School, designed by Rose in 1904, features an Italian Renaissance Revival vocabulary, while John Fiske Elementary (1907/07) and Sumner High School (1905-06/1809-09) exhibit Jacobethan elements in their primary and secondary elevations.

May 31:  School to be called John Fiske in honor of historian.  Alfred George, principal.

1907 – March 18:  Plans for eight-room addition.

March 25:  Property adjoining school purchased from Williams and others.

May 6:  F A Thompson awarded contract.

1908 – Building occupied.  PTA organized.  Upper grades to other schools.

1915 – “Mexican students attended either the Fiske or Ingalls School in Armourdale; Emerson and Stanley schools in Argentine; or Catholic schools such as St. John the Evangelist, in the period after 1915 and before the fall of 1923.  (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO PUblic Library)

1920 – Kindergarten established.

1939 – Four-room, two-story addition in use in September.  Now 16 rooms.

1952 – School back in service after flood.  January 25:  Fire in basement.

1978 – Two 6th grade classes are transferred to Argentine and Rosedale Middle Schools.

1981 – USD 500 school desegregation plan takes effect.  Grades 3 and 4 are bussed to Grant, located at 1510 N 4th St.  Fifth grade pupils from Grant area attend school at John Fiske.   (District released from desegregation order in summer of 1997.)

1984 – New school opened.  “Paired with Grant in 1980.  Grades 3-4 at Grant; K-2 and 5 at John Fiske.  John Fiske was the final project in the capital facilities renewal program undertaken in 1970.

1993 – Building emptied of furniture and equipment due to possible flooding of the river.

1998 - Construction on southeast wing completed.

2019 - Construction on new multipurpose room and playground completed.

2022 - Construction on library completed.

Excerpt from 18th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1904:  p.111, Four grades, four-room brick, corner Wyoming and Valley Streets.  Boundary – Beginning at Union Pacific tracks and Tenth Street, south on Tenth Street to Hasbrook Avenue, west on Hasbrook Avenue to Eleventh Street, south on Eleventh Street to Osage Avenue, west on Osage Avenue to Eighteenth Street, north on Eighteenth Street to Union Pacific tracks, east on Union Pacific tracks to point of beginning.

Excerpt from PRESENTING THE PAST by Edwin Dale Shutt, II
History of the Schools:  Part X-Clara Barton, John Fiske, Junction Elementary, J.J. Lewis, Thomas Edison and Carlisle Schools
Silver City Record, Kansas City, KS, 1977

The John Fiske Grade School on the old 1200 block of Wyoming and Custer and the present address of 625 South Valley is in Armourdale.  However, this school sent many pupils on to Argentine High School and now Harmon.  In the 1930’s and 40’s students had the option of attending Wyandotte or Argentine.  Now, however, the school district is more defined and some students from John Fiske are still attending Harmon.

The John Fiske Elementary School was built to serve the needs of the west end of Armourdale in 1903.  The school was named in honor of John Fiske (1842-1901), Nineteenth Century philosopher and historian.  The original building consisted of four rooms and grades one through four.  A Mr. George was the first principal and the first faculty consisted of Myra Albaugh, Gertrude Murray, and Hallceon Martin.  Other early instructors included:  Dora Monahan, Adele Humprey (Principal from 1905-05), Joe Thomas (1906-30) and Helen A. Boner.  Eight rooms were added to John Fiske in 1906 and four more were added in 1939.  This made a total of sixteen rooms for grades one through eight.  The first PTA or Mothers club was formed during 1908-09.

In the 1951 flood, John Fiske suffered heavy damage as did the John J. Ingalls and the Morse School of Armourdale.  The Clara Barton School and Phillips, a Black school, were completely destroyed.

Trailer City was built on the site of the Old Homestead Golf Course for flood victims of Argentine and Armourdale.  This was near the present location of the J. C. Harmon High School on Steele Road.  John Fiske Elementary School went to half-day sessions until Morse and John J. Ingalls were repaired.  A fire possibly caused by arson, destroyed the vacant Morse School and it had to be complete rebuilt.  A fire, however, in the basement of John Fiske in January of 1952 did little damage.  In September of 1952 instead of an estimated enrollment of 250 at John Fiske there was actually 499 pupils.  Trailer City children were shortly thereafter transferred back to John J. Ingalls and eventually back to the rebuilt Morse School.

The John Fiske Elementary School has a faculty of eleven teachers and an enrollment of approximately 250 pupils in grades kindergarten through five.  Dr. Patrick Cigish is the Principal.  Lucille Lark, a long time teacher at the school was nominated as the KCKs School District’s candidate for the Master Teacher of the Year Award.  Students on the westside of South Valley attend Argentine Middle School and Harmon.

The principal of John Fiske Elementary from 1904-05 - Alfred George/ 1905-06 - Adela Humphrey/ 1906-39 - Zoe Thomas/ 1939-43 - Helen A Boner/ 1943-53 - Sarah Nelson/ 1953-56 - Vera Croskey/ 1956-63 - Mildred Hawkins/ 1963-70 - Elizabeth Hepler/ 1970-74 - Dorothy Espenlaub/ 1974-76 - Jennie Weir/ 1976-88 - Patrick Cigich/ 1988-90 - Laura Swartz/ 1990-97 - Barbara Branch/ 1997-2006 - Betty Martin/ 2006 – 2017 - Josie Herrera/ 2017--Present - Joe Graham