Prior to 1947 the children of Waltham Township were educated in numerous one-room schoolhouse districts that were established between 1853 and 1859, and took their names from the families that owned the land they were located on, such as Edgcomb, French, Piercy, Sion, Small, Wilson, and Whipple. One of the schoolhouse districts, Center, took its name because of its location. These one-room schoolhouse districts were all located within Waltham Township. In March of 1947 the Township held an election and the voters approved consolidating the one-room schoolhouse districts and established Waltham Community Consolidated School District #185.
The first Board of Education members for the newly consolidated district were:
Earl Clement . . . . President
Russell C. Chalus . . . . Secretary
Charles Hagenbuch, Jr.
The first principal of Waltham Community Consolidated School District #185 was Mrs. Marie Brown.
On September 23, 1950, voters authorized the Board of Education to issue bonds in the amount of $95,000 for the purpose of building a school. Land was purchased from the Totel Estate at the present Waltham Elementary School site, and construction began in March 1951.
On January 2, 1952, students from nine one-room schools walked through the doors of Waltham C.C. Elementary School District #185. Mr. Emile Kinzer was principal when the new building was completed.
The first teachers of Waltham Community Consolidated School District #185 were:
Mr. Emile E. Kinzer – Principal, Sixth and Seventh Grades
Miss Jean Root – Fourth and Fifth Grades
Mrs. Katherine Toellen – First, Second, and Third Grades
A dedication ceremony was held on May 5, 1952. The material for part of this history narrative was taken from that dedication program.
In 1953 the Lone Tree District and parts of three other adjacent districts petitioned into the Waltham Community Consolidated School District #185.
As district enrollment and educational needs grew, two additions were made to the building in 1971 and 1994.
2002 marked the Golden Anniversary of Waltham C.C. Elementary School District #185. The event lent itself to some exciting curricular projects that evolved throughout the eleven months of preparation and planning for this event. Pictures and materials from the “early” days and interviews that shared stories or memories of that time were gathered.
In spring of 2002, due to Waltham’s increasing enrollment and lack of space and Utica Elementary School District #135’s decreasing enrollment and abundance of space, serious talks between the respective School Boards and Administrations began. Waltham Community Consolidated School District #185 expanded its district size on April 1, 2003, when with ninety percent community support, it annexed the former Utica Elementary School District #135; thereby becoming a newly consolidated, two building school district. Waltham Elementary South (the building once known as Utica Elementary School District #135) currently houses Kindergarten through Second Grade learners and Waltham Elementary School houses Third Grade through Eighth Grade learners. Waltham Elementary School remains the district’s Business Office with the Superintendent located at Waltham Elementary South.
On April 20, 2004, a Level F3 tornado destroyed eighty percent of the village of North Utica and included heavy damage to the Waltham Elementary South facility. Many members of our student body and their families along with other community members were adversely affected, causing a disruption in our school year. Seventy-seven learners attending Waltham Elementary South along with their teachers, staff and Superintendent were relocated to Waltham Elementary School, causing short-term over-crowding and disruption in schedules.
On opening day of the 2004-2005 school year, Waltham Elementary South students were able to begin the year in their building.