La Center Schools

The History of La Center High School

Although the first senior class of La Center High School did not graduate until 1922, the first building to house students in grades 1-12 was built in 1908 and sat at the intersection of Pacific Highway and what is now Sixth Street. Between 1922 and 1938, 188 students graduated from La Center High School, but by 1938, this first La Center School had become too small to house La Center's growing student population, and plans were made to build a new school. In 1938 or 1939, this original La Center School was demolished, not because it had been condemned but because it needed to be destroyed so that the district could receive federal aide for the new school.

By the end of 1936-1937 school year, the 26 acres on which a new La Center School would stand had been purchased and improved, bonds had passed and the specifications and plans for this new school were drawn and ready. A 1938 article in The Columbian indicates this second La Center School cost approximately $80.000 to construct and was completed on September 1, 1938. For the next 22 years, this building housed grades K-12 of the La Center School District. Notable changes during that time include the construction of a multi-purpose building in 1952 at a cost of $23,674. This building included a multi-purpose room, a kitchen, a storage area, and two bathrooms.

In 1959, the gymnasium which once jutted off the west end of the school and four classrooms burned. Although the class of 1961 began its senior year in the 1938 building, they would be the last senior class to do so; by late spring, students in grades 9-12 had moved into the new high school which sat right next to the 1938 building, thus ending the high school history of the second La Center School. By the end of the 1966 school year, the 1938 building had been renamed Mary Gabrielson Elementary School in honor of Mary Gabrielson, who taught at the La Center School from 1929, through 1965. From 1938 through 1960, 474 students graduated from this second La Center High School.

Construction of the third building to house La Center High School students began on October 17, 1960 and was finished in the spring of 1961. By 1978, this building had become somewhat overcrowded, prompting the building of a new wing on the north end of the high school. Completed in 1979 at a cost of $349,217, this new wing featured a library, a science lab, a business room, one normal-sized classroom, and a much smaller classroom with a darkroom attached. By 1984, after 23 years of use, the third La Center High School was in need of a total remodel, a project that cost $1,322,119 and was completed in 1985. As the high school population continued to grow throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, it became clear that the district needed to build a new high school In it's 32 years as La Center High School, the 1961 building saw 1264 students graduate.

The current, and fourth, La Center High School opened its doors to 330 students on August 30, 1993. Built at a cost of $7.6 million, this building featured a much-needed commons area, computers in every class room, a much larger library, a science lab, plenty of student parking (at that time anyway), and sinks that did not require students to turn on the water, As the high school population swelled to 450 students by the turn of the century, more and more portable classrooms were scattered around the campus, prompting, the school board to include the high school in its 2003 bond to completely remodel the elementary and middle schools.

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