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05-30-14: Waller Road Elementary celebrates 100 years of learning
Posted on 05/30/2014

The year was 1913. There was no electricity, travel was by foot or by horse and wagon, and the first school in the Waller Road area — a one-room structure named Woodrow School — opened to 14 students.

ImageThe original schoolhouse, named after President Woodrow Wilson and its location in the woods, will be open to the community during Waller Road Elementary School’s 100th anniversary celebration.


Guest speakers and student music performances will kick off the celebration at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 at the school’s covered play shed. A catered spaghetti dinner will be served at 4:45 p.m., and guests will be invited to walk through the school and see historical displays and a photo slideshow. Dinner tickets are available through May 9 for $5 each and can be purchased by cash or check at the school, located at 6312 Waller Road in Tacoma. 



The community is also invited during the open house to cross 64th Street on the south side of the school to visit the original one-room Woodrow School, located adjacent the Waller Road Grange Hall. Children will be invited to take photos in pioneer clothing and play turn-of-the-century games.


The historic Woodrow School was a simple one-room building with a small closet, an outhouse, and a yard full of trees. Community members Ed and Edna Eichorn used the small building for storage on their property across the road from the current elementary school and offered it as a schoolhouse in 1913 while a more permanent structure was built.


The school was moved to the Waller Road Grange and renovated by Grange and community members as part of a 1976 Bicentennial project. It is designated as a State Historical Building of Interest. Woodrow School was renamed Waller Road School in 1936 after a three-room brick building was built at the school’s current location. That brick building forms the center section of the present-day school.


Woodrow School is filled with artifacts, some of them original to when it opened. Hardwood desks and seats line narrow walkways, a small world globe and pair of spectacles rest on a small teacher’s desk near the window, a lantern hangs from the ceiling for light, and an oil-skin blackboard and wood stove greet visitors inside the doorway. A metal lunch pail marked “Rudy” sits alongside worn and weathered books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase. The pail is a replica of one used by the late Rudy Geise, one of the first children to attend the school in 1913. His four children, three grandchildren, and great-grandson, currently a sixth grader, make up four generations of Waller Road Elementary students.


Each spring, the school’s third graders spend one day at Woodrow School experiencing what life was like for Geise and other pioneer children. Girls don skirts and bonnets, and boys wear cloth caps as they churn butter, make ice cream, saw logs, push barrel hoops with sticks, practice penmanship with pens dipped into ink wells, and learn about school rules in 1913.



For more information about the anniversary celebration, contact the school at (253) 841-8745 or visit the Waller Road Elementary’s 100th Year Celebration Facebook page. Special thanks all who contributed to this article and photo display, including those who worked on the publication, “Woodrow School, The Heart of Waller Road,” published by Puyallup Public Schools in 1989. The booklet was written by Beverly Ann Marshall with research and editing by Phyllis Dorwin, Diane Fogle, and Janice Morgan.