Outdoor photo of Howard Elementary School
  • History of Howard Elementary

    (1884 -         )

    Howard Namesake

    Blake C. Howard - Namesake of Howard Elementary

    • l884 - An 8 room, two-story building with a basement was erected in block 20, bounded by Sycamore, Kimball, Fifth and Sixth Streets. The cost was $20,000.

    • 1951 -The building was condemned by the State Fire Marshal. The city of Grand Island bought the building for $25,000, tearing it down and creating a city park on the old site.

    • l952 -Citizens of Grand Island passed a $4,000,000 bond issue to replace two elementary schools, Howard and Platt, with one building; build a new senior high; turn the old senior high into a junior high; add on to the present junior high; build additions to elementary schools as needed; and purchase future school sites on the edge of the city.

    • l954 -On February 5, l954 the new building opened. It was attached to Walnut Junior High School at 502 West 9th. A parade of students and staff walked from the old school to the new school. The cost was $30l,740 which was $13.70 per square foot. After 70 years of use the old Howard School building was abandoned. Important features of this modern facility included: (1) an attractive, inviting lobby complete with a fireplace; (2) natural lighting provided by large windows to the north and glass panels between classrooms and hallways; (3) self-contained classrooms complete with toilet facilities, sinks with drinking fountains, work counters, and exits to the playground; (4) corridors with special boxes for growing plants on the south sides of the classrooms and equipped with a mitten drier in each cloakroom; and (6) temperature control systems that could be adjusted in each room.

    • l955 -Walnut Junior High moved and the building became solely Howard Elementary. Miss Mildred Moore was principal of both Howard and Platt Elementary schools from 1955 through 1958, retiring from her position at Howard in the spring of 1963.

    • l957 -Platt Elementary, located at the corner of Cleburn and Seventh Streets, closed and it's students began attending Howard. Kindergarten through 2nd grade students came in l957 while 3rd through 6th grades joined in l958.

    • l958 -The east wing was added to the building, consisting of six classrooms, a special education room, and a library. The cost was $142,433, plus $3,349 for the Walnut building demolition. One gym was salvaged and remodeled.

    • 1968 -A media center, made possible by a $50,000 grant through the Elementary and Secondary Act, was opened containing a comprehensive collection of books, filmstrips, audio tapes, records, and photographs in an integrated card catalog. This center, under the direction of media specialist Mrs. Irene Klanecky and principal Gene Schneberger, was visited by educators from states west of the Mississippi during the next five years. This was the beginning of a systematic development of media centers throughout the entire school system.

    • 1969 -Due to overcrowding, space was leased in Trinity Methodist Church for a kindergarten class.

    • 1975 -The Howard playground Tire Climb, built by the PTA, was featured in Kid's World Magazine.

    • 1978 -Mrs. Bessie Frith, former Starr Principal, came to Howard with the transfer of Mr. Schneberger to Stolley Park Elementary.

    • 1980 -A project to house special education students from Connell added four new classrooms and a new media center, remodeled the east wing to meet the students' special requirements, and made the building barrier-free. Energy-efficient window systems and a climate controlled heating and cooling system were also installed. An English as a Second Language (ESL) program was added due to an influx of students from southeast Asia.  The cost was $613,130 and it opened for students in January, 1981.

    • 1993 -Grand Island citizens passed a $28,600,000 bond issue to include funding for remodeling existing space and construction of a new gym on the northeast corner of the school.  

    • 1995 -Ground was broken in October for the new gym and remodeling of the school began.

    • 1996 -The addition of the gym and remodeling of classrooms was completed in time for the opening of the school year. At the end of the 1996-97 school year, Mrs. Bessie Frith retired as principal and was succeeded by Mrs. Denise McCown.

    • 1997 -In August of 1997 the Grand Island Public School District made the transition to a K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 school district. Howard sixth graders would now attend Walnut Middle School, formerly known as Walnut Jr. High. In the classrooms left vacant by the change, two Headstart classrooms moved into our building. The three-year-old class was strictly Spanish speaking, while the four-year-olds took part in the ESL program, beginning to learn English as a second language. Another change at Howard this school year was all-day Kindergarten. As a result of Howard School becoming a school-wide Title 1 building, the staff elected to designate one of its Title 1 teachers as a Kindergarten teacher.

    • 2001 -Howard received a grant through Nebraska Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Projects. The grant provides professional development through a comprehensive reform effort supported by Co-nect professionals.

    • 2003 -The five classrooms on the south side of the south hallway were added.  Mrs. Denise McGowan left Howard and Mrs. Kris Burling (Schneider) became principal of Howard.

    • 2008 -Mrs. Julie Schnitzler became the principal of Howard.

    • 2011 -The annex was completed on the west side of Howard, adding four additional classrooms.  Howard Elementary piloted the continuous calendar, remaining with the year-round calendar until 2017.

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    Information for this history of Howard School came from personal interviews with Bessie Frith, former principal, and from the books, A Brief History of the Grand Island Public Schools, Grand Island, Nebraska by Earle W. Wilson, former superintendent of schools, 1957, and GRAND ISLAND, Public Schools' History, 1955-1991, by Gerald D. Bryant, 1992.