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Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Olympic View School

HistoryLink.org Essay 10572 : Printer-Friendly Format

This People's History of Olympic View School is taken from Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. That book, published in 2002 by Seattle Public Schools, compiled profiles of all the public school buildings that had been used by the school district since its formation around 1862. The profiles from the book are being made available as People's Histories on HistoryLink.org courtesy of Seattle Public Schools. It should be noted that these essays are from 2000. Some of the buildings profiled are historic, some of recent vintage, and many no longer exist (new names and buildings not included in these profiles from 2000 have been added), but each plays or has played an important role in the education of Seattle's youth.

Olympic View School

In 1903, it was not easy for young children to get to Oak Lake School from the eastern part of Oak Lake School District No. 51, so a one-room East Oak Lake School (or East School) was opened for grades 1-4. When another two-room schoolhouse was built on the site in 1909, the new building housed grades 4-8 while the old building, which was moved to the north of the new one, held grades 1-3.

In 1911, the residents between Meridian and 15th Avenue NW, from 85th to 125th, decided to form their own school district, No. 177. Olympic View was selected as the name for the new district and as the new name for their old school, because of the magnificent view of the Olympic Mountains to the west across Puget Sound. Thomas Catching became principal that year and would hold that position until 1954.

More classrooms were needed as the school population grew, so in 1921 a new building was constructed. Four more rooms were added to the west side of this building in 1926. For years the 1903 building held the 1st grade class, while the 1909 building housed the 2nd grade classroom/ auditorium on the main floor and a lunchroom and woodshop in the basement. Kids "graduated" into the brick building by skipping across the connecting walkway and into 3rd grade.

In 1938, three more classrooms, a lunchroom, and large gymnasium-auditorium were added with WPA funds, culminating in a modern 15-room building. At that time the 1903 and 1909 buildings were demolished.

In 1943, residents of the district living south of (N)E 115th Street voted to become part of the City of Seattle. The enrollment at Olympic View that year was 565 pupils. Beginning in 1948-49, the grade configuration was reduced from K-8 to K-6. Still, enrollment peaked at 760 in 1953-54. By 1965-66, it had dropped down to 455.

By the late 1980s, the building was deemed to be of poorer quality than most in the district and considered a safety risk. Students attended classes in the old building while a new facility was constructed on the east playground. When the old building closed in June 1989, John E. Kenny retired after teaching 42 years at Olympic View. The following fall the new building opened.

With the new building, Olympic View expanded from K-3 to K-5, with a capacity of 550 students. A daycare facility is attached to the eastern end of the building. Today the school features a highly regarded science program and special education classes offering physical and speech therapy. A sundial has been placed on the south wall.


Name: East Oak Lake School
Location: (N)E 95th and 5th
Avenue NE
Building: 1-room wood
Architect: n.a.
Site: 2.5 acres
1903: Opened in Oak Lake School District
1909: 2-room building added (n.a.)
1911: Part of new school district in 1911; renamed Olympic View
1938: Both buildings demolished

Name: Olympic View School
Location: 504 NE 95th Street
Building: 8-room brick
Architect: n.a.
Site: 4.1 acres
1921: Opened
1926: Addition (n.a.)
1938: Addition (n.a.)
1943: Annexed into Seattle School District on June 30
1989: Closed in June; demolished in summer

Name: Olympic View Elementary School
Location: 504 NE 95th Street
Building: 20-room, 2-story brick veneer
Architect: Eric Meng Associates
Site: 4.62 acres
1989: Opened September 6

Olympic View Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 467
Address: 504 NE 95th Street
Nickname: Eagles
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Blue and white

Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002).

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People's Histories include memoirs, reminiscences, contemporary accounts, reprints of older historical accounts, commentary on and interpretation of current and historical events, and expressions of personal opinion, many of which have been submitted by our visitors. These essays have not been verified by HistoryLink.org and do not necessarily represent its views.

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Students, East Oak Lake School, Oak Lake north of Seattle, ca. 1903
Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 262-4)

Olympic View School, Oak Lake north of Seattle, ca. 1911
Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 262-6)

Aerial view, Olympic View School, Seattle, 1960
Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 262-1)

Olympic View School, Seattle, 1960
Photo by Mary Randlett, Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 262-15)

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