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Bowdle School History


Compiled by Beulah Schumacher & Elaine Geier   

Bowdle school history is linked closely with that of the city, both beginning in 1886. The old stagecoach trail hit Bowdle before its existence about where the present school house stands.  The first term of school was held in the second story of the first business place constructed. This multi-purpose room was also used for Sunday School and court reflecting the early settlers' respect for education, religion and justice.

Increased enrollment necessitated the construction of a two-story frame building on the present site in 1888.  A southeast wing was added in 1908.  No school activities could be held at night because of inadequate lighting. A windmill provided water and there were outdoor privies.  Ruth Boyd and Grace Baker were the first graduates from the accredited four-year high school in 1912.

Crowded conditions and the danger of fire in the old building caused public support for a new brick building on the same location.  School bonds for $40,000 were issued and construction completed in 1919. During construction school was held in the Opera House and Masonic Hall. This same year the Kellie Common School District deeded Block 29, the location of the school building, plus four rural schools to the Bowdle Independent School District No, 9.  a rural-city controversy led to a lawsuit which was appealed to the south Dakota supreme court.  Following legal action the district was divided into Common School District 9 1/2 and the Independent District of the city of Bowdle in 1932.

An addition for a gymnasium was voted on the second time and approved in 1936.  Bonds were issued for $9,000, which helped provide local jobs on this project completed in 1938.

In 1959 the Bowdle School District went through reorganization, absorbing neighboring districts and adding buses.  Although two buses were operated in 1920-1921, bad roads caused this service to be discontinued. Bus service is provided today.

A new grade school, vocational agriculture shop, bus housing and land for an athletic field were secured through a $260,000 bond issue in 1960.  The concrete block building, housing the grades, joined the 1919 school on the south, while the shop was built on the north.

Due to the deterioration of the east wall of the high school, a $750,000 bond issue was passed in 1976 to construct a new high school, joining the grade school on the east.  Classes in the new school started in March, 1977, and the old school was torn down after an All-School Reunion in the summer of 1977.

December 13, 1951
With court procedure, the Bowdle High School discarded its old nickname for its athletic club and took on the name "Bobcats."  After some 30 or more years, the student body decided to discard the name "Cossacks," for something with more of a clean fight than the name of the Russian soldier. A vote of  82-6.