Sacajawea Middle School has great pride in its history and standard of excellence. Construction began in February 1959 and was completed in 1960. Parents, teachers and all 1,131 seventh, eighth and ninth graders eagerly awaited that first historical day in September 1960 when the school's doors opened. Prior to opening, 40 newly-appointed teachers attended special classes at Eastern Washington College of Education and Sacajawea to become acquainted and develop the teaching and learning process.
Dedication of the School
Everett L. Henderson, former principal at Hutton Elementary, became the first principal. The assistant principal's position was filled by Leonard G. Richardson, head of the Shadle Park High School English department. To dedicate the beautiful building, a program was held on November 8, 1960, for an enthusiastic crowd of 1,000 people. During the evening ceremony, Thomas C. Wurth, school board president, formally accepted our modern $1,400,000 one-level brick building. Guests include our principal, superintendent of Schools William C. Sorenson, a State Board of Education representative, Miss Spokane, and architects, contractors, and numerous city officials. The students' dedication occurred earlier in the day as 250 students performed from the band, orchestra and chorus.
A mascot was now needed and the students held a contest. The winner was announced and Ilene Engard received a crisp $5 bill for her outstanding design of the Thunderbird. This mythical bird, used by some of the Pacific Northwest Indian Tribes, is a symbol of power and leadership. Mr. Henderson said, "It is fitting that a bird recognized in Indian lore should be the symbol since the school is named for Sacajawea, the Indian Bird Woman, who served as a guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition." How proud we were!
1973 brought a new year of excitement as the totem pole carving began. It took seventh graders two years of designing, carving, and painting to complete the pole under the direction of Mrs. O.J. Cotes, the art teacher. The excitement mounted as the 23-foot cedar pole was dedicated at a special ceremony on Potlatch Day May 23, 1975. During that week, $10 per homeroom was raised to purchase a gift for the Museum of Native American Clture. This was historically significant since Potlatch Day, among Indian nations, was a time of great gift giving. A time capsule filled with yearbooks, school newspapers, and other school documents was placed at the base of the totem pole.