Western Hills History
A New Community School in 1953
“Western Hills school has the unique distinction of being the first school in three decades to serve a completely new community in the school district of Omaha,” stated Dr. Henry A. Burke, who was the Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools in 1953.
The ten acre school site originally started out as farming land and Robert Dillion, a real estate developer, sold a portion of this land to the Board of Education. Thousands of children have walked on this land and received an outstanding education.
Western Hills was a truly modern school when it was built in 1953. The one story, masonry structure, was designed to provide facilities for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. The school started out with twelve classrooms, a kindergarten, a library, and a multipurpose room which also served as auditorium, gymnasium, and cafeteria.
Three hundred and ninety-two children enrolled on the opening day, September 8, 1953. Ten classrooms were filled with eager students ready to learn and become part of the Western Hills School community. The library opened with 702 books on the shelves.
Dedication of the school was held on March 14, 1954. There was a severe dust and snow storm that hit Omaha on the Friday before the actual dedication. Red dust, blown in from Kansas, mixed with our snow and glued itself to everything in its path. It was a difficult task to clean up everything and have it ready for the school dedication. When the day finally arrived, it was beautiful! There were about a 1000 people that came for this historical event.
A major addition was completed in 1957. At the time, it was the first school in three decades to serve an entirely new community. The Western Hill Community is now very diverse and far-reaching. In a broad sense, it now represents a cross section of our entire city because our families span a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.
DID YOU KNOW?
| Did you know that Western Hills did not have street lights or sidewalks when the school first opened in 1953?
| Did you know that research indicated light is essential to human energy? For this reason, an adequate supply of both natural and artificial light were included in the school building plan?
| Did you know it cost $532,227 to build the 36,444 square foot building in 1953?
| Did you know that since so many kindergarten activities are conducted on the floor, radiant floor heat was supplied for the Western Hills kindergarten classroom?
Architect: Noel S. Wallace
Contractor: Shelton Construction Company