Bethany School’s development through the Yakima County and Grandview School districts

Bethany School, built in 1903 or 1904. Linda Dunham, 1929.

During the early years of white settlement in Yakima County pupils receiving an education attended schools run from private homes or properties. It wasn’t until Mr. George W. Parrish was elected by the Yakima County Commissioners as the first School Superintendent that education became more formalized in the valley. Under Parrish the various settlements in the valley were divided into school districts, the first four were formed on June 28th, 1868. It wasn’t until October 16th, 1868, that School District No. 5 consisting of the Sunnyside, Grandview, Zillah, and Granger areas was formed.

Not long after the formation of the initial School District Boundaries, Mr. Charles Phillip Cooke became the second Yakima County Superintendent of Schools. His term began a year after settling in in the Moxee area in 1867. Under his direction several changes were made to the initial school district boundaries. Interestingly, at the time there were more male teachers receiving their teaching certificates in the county then females, a practice that would soon change. Prior to his death in 1888, Charles served as the Superintendent of Schools several times.

By the mid 1890’s many schools in the lower valley were still operating in private homes and buildings. Over time they would become more organized and have official school buildings. One such school was Bethany School near Grandview, Washington.

Built in 1903 or 1904, Bethany School was located on non-other than Bethany Road. At the time of its completion, although a small school it was associated with the Grandview School District and educated pupils in the first through seventh grades. In 1906 Mrs. Charles Golinger was reported as the only Bethany School Teacher. For unknown reasons, in 1911, the school was moved to a new location on Bethany Road near Woodworth Road.

During the 1917-18 school year, the Yakima County School Superintendent was a woman named Mrs. Anna R. Nichols. The Grandview School District had grown significantly, and Bethany School was now officially part of Grandview School District No. 81. Mr. A. C. Kellog served as the Grandview School District Superintendent. Although still small Bethany School had grown enough to employ two teachers: Amelia Johnson, and Clara Behnke. Over the next few decades, the teachers at the school changed, although the school would remain approximately the same size. Some reports indicate that the schools largest number of students was approximately 60, with the maximum number of teachers being two.

When Bethany School finally closed its doors as an educational facility it was sold to private owners and reported to have become a private residence. Today, the history of the school remains long forgotten with most of its students having passed away.

Ellen Allmendinger can be contacted at email History@SunnysideSun.com

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