The History of the Lew Wallace School

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In 1932, Dorothy Seefeldt wrote a brief history of Lew Wallace to that date, and it was published in the 1932 yearbook as follows:

The location of the Lew Wallace School was selected by William A. Wirt, Superintendent of the Gary Public Schools, and the Board of Education in 1921. The original site contained twenty-five acres but it has been reduced to about twenty acres as a result of putting in sewers, sidewalks, and streets. The first building, located at the east end of the lot, was erected in 1922 and known as the Forty-fifth Avenue School. Miss Stella Z. Miles was principal. Since 1924 eight portables have been added and in 1926 the west building was erected for the use of the primary grades. The last and main unit is now under construction and is expected to be finished by the end of the 1932-'33 school term.

The growth of the school has been astonishingly rapid. In 1923, during Miss Miles' principalship the total enrollment was 502. When Miss Ina Martin succeeded Miss Miles in 1925, the enrollment was 776. Miss Verna Hoke followed Miss Martin in 1927 at which time the number had increased to 1,337. The present enrollment is 1,931, more than four times as great as the original number.

This growth was accompanied by a similar growth in the teaching force. The first faculty, during the school year 1923-24, consisted of ten members: The Misses Rose Veenker, Margaret Gale, Agatha Clemens, Pearl Giroux, Mary Furnes, Grace McAllister, Agnes Beedon and the Mesdames Florence Haskell, Alice C. Connors, and Mildred Kelley. At the present time Miss Verna Hoke, principal, assisted by Floyd Asher supervises the work of fifty-four faculty members. In addition there is an office force of five members and a permanent medical office pre-sided over by Mrs. Dorothy Clayton.

The name of the school was chosen by a popular vote of the pupils during the time Miss Ina Martin was principal. Lew Wallace was a great statesman, writer, and general during the Civil War. It is the purpose of the school to foster the standards of scholarship, loyalty, valor, honor, and sportsmanship which this great man upheld during his life.

The cost of the original land site was $25,000 and the additional costs for streets, sidewalks, sewers, and surfacing was $38,000. The total in-vestment including the new building under construction is more than $1,000,000.

The present curriculum is not as complete as the one followed by other Gary high schools, but it will be upon the formal opening of the new building which is now being occupied by several classes, but which will not be fully equipped until the fall semester of 1932-'33. The completion of this building will be co-incident with the graduation of the first class to complete four years of high school training. The Lew Wallace School has been granted permission to appropriately use the crest of the Wallace family. The crest bears the coat of arms of the Wallace family and dates back to the eleventh century. Our school is honored by being the only school or organization in the United States privileged to use this crest. For this reason it is the desire of the students and faculty to display and use it on only such occasions as we know the Wallace family would be proud to have it used. The crest, to us, is something to be respected and venerated.

- Dorothy Seefeldt, '32

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