Westonka schools celebrate 100 years

One hundred years ago this weekend the area that is now the Westonka community saw its dream of a local high school education for its youngsters become a reality. Mound Consolidated High School was dedicated on Sept. 3, 1917 after a two-year planning and building project. The imposing state-of-the-art brick building stood at the corner of County Rd. 110 (Commerce Blvd.) and County Rd. 15 (Lynwood Blvd.) at the present site of Mound Marketplace.

More than 1,000 people attended the Labor Day dedication ceremony and the halls were filled with students the next day. The group included two young women who would graduate the next spring – Mound High’s first graduating class of 1918.

Prior to the opening of Mound Consolidated High School the community was served by a collection of small school districts, each of which supported a single school building that served students in grades one through eight. That was the end of education unless children took the train to Minneapolis or Wayzata to go to high school.

In September, 1915, residents of Mound, Spring Park, and parts of Minnetrista and Orono voted to join as Hennepin County Independent Consolidated School District 85 and approved funds to build a high school. The State of Minnesota later re-assigned the district the number 277. The school board of the new consolidated school district, which covered about the same area as today, met for the first time on Oct. 11, 1915. For the next two years the school board continued to operate the neighborhood schools, found rented space for ninth and tenth grade students, hired the first superintendent and oversaw construction of the new high school. It was built for $55,000.

Ironically, the 1917 building burned on Labor Day, 1963, dropping the interior second and third floors to the ground level and leaving only a shell. A large 1938 high school addition survived the blaze and stood until 1999. The burned building was replaced by a structure many locals still remember as “the pods”. The current Mound Westonka High School opened on its present site in Minnetrista in the fall of 1971.

The Westonka School District kicked off its celebration of this Centennial year at the Spirit of the Lakes parade in July and will continue throughout the year observing the century mark for the high school and the 100th graduating class in 2018. Events will include an alumni breakfast on Friday, Oct. 6 in connection with Homecoming, and an all-class reunion next summer during Spirit of the Lakes weekend.