Southworth Elementary

Southworth Elementary

It Took Some Time But Yelm’s New School’s A Beauty

(undated article from 1970’s – The Olympian)

Yelm’s Southworth Elementary School, an attractive structure which shows no scars from its sometimes stormy past, will be dedicated Tuesday, Nov 23, in festivities which include an all-day open house followed by a ceremony and program starting at 7:30 p.m.

The evening ceremony will be held in the bright new cafeteria. Principal Jack Coates, serving as official host, will introduce guest speakers.

Among these will be the man for whom the school was named: Harry Southworth, who started his Yelm area teaching career in 1932, in a two-room school in Evergreen Valley. He went to the old Yelm Grade School in 1935 and served there as a teacher and then principal and then teacher again, for the next 38 years – until1973. From his principal’s post he returned to teaching five years before his retirement, “after it got to be too much of a headache to be an administrator,” Southworth said.

Another distinguished guest, and principal speaker at the dedication program, will be State Superintendent Frank Brouillet.

Others will be Fran Brock, chairman of the school board; Yelm Mayor Lora Coates and District Supt. Glen Nutter.

Following the dedication program, guests may tour the building and return to the cafeteria for refreshments to be served by members of the parent-teacher organization.

A part of Southworth was built in 1971, partly with monies from a $700,000 bond issues passed by the district. As a result of controversy regarding the location of the school building, it was not equipped and occupied upon completion of its first phase.

The school was furnished the following year, however, and was used. A second bond issue – of $2.5 million – passed last year included money for the completion of Southworth. Coates said its total cost was about $1.3 million. It serves about 450 students in four pods of four rooms each, with skylighted library, excellent gymnasium (soon to be shared with the high school!) and cafeteria.

The buildings, grouped around the library and a surfaced patio playground, are girded by turf stretching away to nearby woods. Muted pine-green siding and mottled brown shakes suit the environment. Pitched roofs slope to cloche-like eaves.

Within the several pods, rooms open into each other and each unit has its own bathroom. However, the pods are connected to each other and to cafeteria, library and gym, only by way of covered and protected outside breezeways, skylighted here and there to lighten them on winter days.

The cafeteria is fitted with a satellite kitchen, but hot lunches are catered from Yelm High School.

Principal Coates said Southworth children seem to lime the school and are not bothered by having to go out of doors to reach cafeteria or library or office.

“Because the building has no halls,” Coates pointed out, “it contains more storage space than any school building I ever saw.”

Architects of the first portion of Southworth were Olson and Rowe, Olympia; of the second part, Don Bogard of Kent. General contractors were the Korsmos of Tacoma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *