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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"100 Year Historical Album of Independence, Wisconsin, 1976":

Donated by Bill Russell


Independence - School Days...       

Pursuant to an order of the supervisors of the town of Burnside, made July 29, 1876, forming a new district (No. 6) in the township, the legal voters met at the office of J. C. Taylor in the village of Independence on August 26, that year.  J. C. Noteman was chosen chairman and J. C. Taylor, clerk protem and at the election which followed J. C. Noteman was elected director for three years, George H. Markham, treasurer of two years, and J. C. Taylor, clerk for one year.

It was voted to have a nine month term and to raise the sum of $315 for teacher's salary, $25 to purchase school furniture, $25 for fuel, $90 for rent of a school room and $45 for contingencies.

The school board was authorized to rent a room for school purposes and to admit nonresident school pupils during the school year as they deemed proper.

In the fall of 1876, the first class was held on the second floor of Taylor's hall, Washington and First Streets, a frame structure which occupied the present site of the Giemza building.

Mary L. Wright was the first teacher employed in the new district in 1876-1877.  She was assisted by Laura J. Bell during the part of the term.  She was again employed during 1878-1879, assisted by Nellie E. Crain and Eva J. Emery.

Because of the growing enrollment there was need for a larger and more suitable building.  In 1880, land was acquired from David M. Kelly, founder of Independence.  A loan of $1,000 was obtained and $800 was raised by taxation.  The new school house, a two story brick structure, was erected on present Fifth Street between Jefferson and Madison.  In 1891 an addition was made to the original structure.

The equivalent of ten grades had been taught for some years, but in September of 1893, under Charles F. Peterson, the principal, a regular course of study was set up covering the required work of a ten grade school.

In 1895 the first class was graduated from the ten grade school.  In 1905 the course of study was extended to cover the work required for eleven years, and in 1906 the four-years high school program was established with the following students as charter members:

Sadie Cole
Thomas Cooke
George Coy
Arthur Cripps
Josie Cripps
Mabelle Elstad
Edna Elstad
Lillian Garthus
Samuel Garthus
Elmer Johnson
Otis Johnson
Ray Kidder
Iva M. Liver
Olive Lockway
Lourie Larson
Fred Markham
Blanche Markham
William Markham
Flora Mish
Harry Folk
Gerald Stevening
Olga Stevening
Louise Stevening
Irving Steiner
Allen Steiner
Lorna Steiner
Leona Steiner
Henry Scholz
Wren Torgerson
Albert Torgerson
John Weideman
Alice Wierner
Richard Zilla

The first graduation from the four year high school course occurred in 1907.  The graduates were:

Arthur Cripps, Lillian Garthus, Iva M. Liver, Leola Steiner, Louis Stevening

Because of the increasing enrollment another addition was made to the school building in 1907.

In 1912, teacher Miss Iva M. Liver started the first kindergarten in correlation with the first grade.

In 1913-1914 the first boys basketball team was organized and games were played with neighboring school teams.  In the same year two girls basketball teams were organized.  Only Gilmanton, in this area, had a girls team, and in 1914-1915 two games, one in each village, were played.

Since these beginnings, the Independence School district has joined area schools in sponsoring a variety of athletics for young men and women.  This includes the following:  For boys, basketball (1913), baseball (1920), track (1940), football (1951), wrestling (1962) and golf (1965).  For girls:  gymnastics (1971), volleyball (1973), softball (1974).  Likewise, Independence Public and Parochial schools have joined in sponsoring elementary school football, basketball and wrestling.  The latter program began in 1974.

The high school has been affiliated with two conferences, including the Trempealeau Valley League from the 1920s to 1959, most recent has been the Dairyland Conference of which the Indees were a charter member in 1959.  In the years since the inception of this conference, Independence football has been most successful, winning championships in 1962, 1964, 1972, 1974, and 1975.  The wrestling team has contributed three championships in 1971, 1972 and 1976.  The present coaching staff includes:  Alan Wynveen, football, assistant basketball, and track.  Celeste Schrank, volleyball, gymnastics, and softball.  Greg Weist, assistant football and wrestling, baseball.  Tom Pride, assistant football, wrestling and golf.  Don Brandt, basketball.

In 1915 the present building was erected on Sixth Street between Burrows and Washington and Seventh Streets, at a cost of $21,000.  Classes in it began in January 1916.

In 1914-1915 the first Home Economics course was added to the high school curriculum and in the following school year the commercial department was added.

In 1914-1915 Mr. John Judge was employed as a part-time music teacher and was succeeded by H. M. Johnson and O. W. Reese.  In 1933-1934 a full time music instructor, H. C. Amunson, was hired.  Since then the school has had a music instructor each year except in 1942-43, when it was impossible to secure a teacher.

In 1940 an addition was made to the south end of the original building to provide needed class room and to accomodate the agricultural department.

In 1954 the second gymnasium was built (the old one being converted to a state and hallways).  Kitchen and dining area was added at the north end of the building.  This area underwent extensive remodeling in the summer of 1975.

The 1959 addition to the south end of the high school building provided space for eight classrooms, a shop and administrative offices.

A vocational education facility was completed in 1973 in the block just east of the high school building.  The brick and concrete structure, 80' by 141', provides six classrooms for several programs such as wood and metal working, electronics, drafting, meat cutting, welding, power mechanics, and band.

As the elementary, kindergarten through eighth grade (enrollment 245), and secondary schools (enrollment 230), have expanded, the need for added administrative help and space has kept pace.  In 1968 the principalship for elementary and high school was divided.  In charge of the graded school since the inception of this program has been Mary Margaret Runkel.  In 1971 the direction of the high school was divided between the first full-time principal, Ken Geary, and the current District Administrator, Frank Kasmierczak.

Expanding the curricular offerings in the 1968-69 school year, Independence, along with four other area schools - Blair, Whitehall, Taylor and Arcadia - began a vocational training program which offers specialized trades, small engine and auto repair, meat cutting, electronics, graphic arts, health occupation and office practice to name a few.

Although many other people have served on the school boards of Joint District No. 6, today's Board of Education includes Wilfred Smieja, President; Ernest Halama, Clerk; William Andre, Treasurer; Donald Woychik and Richard Boland, Directors.

Principals

Independence Public School

Those who served as principals when school was on the 10th and 11th grade program:
  • 1893 - 1899 Charles F. Peterson
  • 1899 - 1901 ?
  • 1901 - 1903 James C. Cuthburt
  • 1903 - 1906 J. H. Christianson
High School Supervising Principals
  • 1906 - 1909 William Sengstram
  • 1909 - 1910 Fred W. Lamson
  • 1910 - 1914 Glen Junkman
  • 1914 - 1918 Halley F. Roberts - died in November 1918.  Miss Anderson became principal for the balance of the school year.
  • 1919 - 1921 H. R. Lissack
  • 1921 - 1927 E. C. Reardon
  • 1927 - 1949 A. J. Anderson
  • 1949 - 1950 Earl Molland
  • 1950 - 1951 Louis Berg (substituted for Molland who was in service)
  • 1951 - 1952    Louis Berg
  • 1952 - 1953 Earl Molland
  • 1953 - 1954 Eugene Brown
  • 1954 - 1965 Ernest Brickner
  • 1965 - 1967 Enoch N. Brice
  • 1967 - 1972 Ed Lyga, Assistant Principal
  • 1972 - present Ken Geary, Principal
  • 1969 - present Frank Kazmierczak, Administrator
 


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