Winner Schools   1900-1965

By Florence Hedlund, Frances Storm, and Lucile Mann

Written in 1982 for the Tripp County Diamond Jubilee, pg. 184-188. Posted with permission from the Historical Society in 2008.


When Tripp County was organized in June 1909, it was divided into forty-two school districts. Written notices of appointment were received by the Board of Directors of School District #20, which included a congressional township. The appointees met at the New Lamro Hotel at Lamro, S.D. on July 15, 1909, and organized as follows: Geo. W. Mitchell, Chairman; Guy E. Shaver, clerk; and, Jn. E. Kisling, treasurer.

A bond election was held on August 5, 1909, with 50 voters authorizing the school board to issue bonds in the amount of $5000 for the purpose of erecting a school building. There were no votes cast against the bond issue.

Subsequently, a two-story building was erected by Griffith and Griffith, contractors, for $600; the completion date was fixed at November 15, 1909. IT was located in the southern section of Township 99, Range 77, which was on block three (3) in the town of Lamro. Warrants were issued to pay for all the necessary expenses in readiness for the beginning of school. Desks and chairs were ordered, outhouses were built, stoves were purchased, and also a ton of coal.

The board voted to accept the schoolhouse as completed by the contractors on March 9, 1910. On June 22, 1910, a new school board, with staggering terms of one, two and three years was elected. P.O. Beaulieu became the chairman. One of the first matters of business was to fix a tax levy of 20 mills- 15 for the general fund and 5 for the sinking fund. During their August meeting, teachers were selected by ballot. A school term of eight months was to begin September 5, 1910, but Mr. Beaulieu was to look for rooms in Winner until such time that permanent quarters were provided.

The final decision was to rent the second story of the Sas building for the high school. It was located across the street west from the vacant lot north of what is now the KWYR radio station. The old schoolhouse on Block 17 was to be used for the primary school.

However, on September 2, 1910, a special election was held deciding whether or not to move the Lamro schoolhouse to Winner. The vote was 66 yes and 8 no. On January 9, 1911, the school board decided to close the Lamro school due to lack of pupils and to consolidate the same with the Winner school.




The lowest bid ($2,600) by J.L. Lynn to move the Lamro schoolhouse to Winner was accepted by the board. He was paid that amount by the use of various warrants and of various dates.

Due to the problem of overcrowded classrooms the following term, other buildings must have been used, for in the December 7, 1911, issue of the Winner Advocate, the primary department was moved from the building west of the People’s Café to the room adjoining the post office in the Butterfield and Barnum building. “This is steam heated and makes a very comfortable schoolroom for the little folks. They expect to hold forth there until the Lamro school building is placed in Winner, ready for school” states the newspaper. The latter part of March the intermediate department moved in the building north of M.R. Beck’s store. They occupied this room until an available location could be secured. Another problem during this term was an inadequate supply of drinking water. An article in the school notes of the newspaper of February 8, 1912, stated: “Should some of the children of the primary and intermediate departments complain in regard to the drinking water, I wish to say to the parents, we try to do our part, but the water wagon fails to appear. Pupils may better conditions by getting a drink before leaving home. We will have water at the rooms every day if we can get it.”

The Winner school opened on Monday, September 9, 1912. The large and up-to-date school building which had been moved from Lamro the past winter and spring was now completed except for the installation of the heating system. (The building had been placed on the southeast corner of a full block which had been designated as the school grounds. It was located one block west of the main street). All grades had better quarters all in one building instead of having to “Hold forth in rooms in different parts of town as was the case last year.”



The teaching force during the 1912-1913 school term included: Supt. H. W. Mayne of Flandreau, S.D.; grammar department, Miss Aileen Wyncoop, Winner; intermediate department, Miss Charlotte Hilliard, Winner. The enrollment on the first day showed 116 students—high school, 38; grammar department, 33; intermediate department, 28; and, primary, 47. By October 17, 37 more students had enrolled. There seemed to be considerable trouble with attendance. It was hoped that the installation of a large new bell would cut down the tardiness.

Don Dailey reports that the enrollment was so large during the 1913-1914 term, that a two-room frame building was moved onto the southwest corner of the school grounds to accommodate the lower grades. Mr. Dailey attended his second year of school in that building. He states that after it was no longer needed, it was moved to the corner of Van Buren and Sixth Street where it still serves as a residence.

A couple notes of interest that term which were reported in the school news were: “Any first grader who is enrolled, but will not be six before January 1, 1914, must be sent home.” Also, “school closed two weeks in February due to an unusual amount of sickness.”

It was noted that students from all parts of the county would attend high school in Winner. During that school term (1914) the grade school teachers were paid $57.50 per month, while the janitor received $50 per month. An attempt was made to consolidate the Winner school system at the June school election in 1915, but it failed by a small majority. However, by the next election the matter had been taken care of so that in 1919, five board of education members plus a treasurer were elected as officials of the Lamro Independent Consolidated School District #20.

The second annual high school commencement was held in the Methodist Episcopal Church on May 28, 1914. The program included several musical selections interspersed with orations given by each of the five graduates. Again, they must have finished the two-year course, as the enrollment of sophomore the previous September had listed five as the highest grade to be enrolled.

On March 10, 1916, the school board held a special meeting where it was decided to hold a bond election on April 3, 1916, for $38,000. This amount would furnish enough capital to erect the largest and most up-to-date public school building in Rosebud. They stated that their dilapidated condition, having been moved across the prairie from the old town of Lamro. The bond issue for the new schoolhouse carried the election by a vote of 134 to 25.

School opened August 31, 1916, with the following faculty: (The enrollment figures are enclosed in parentheses) T. F. De Wane, Supt.; Miss Ella C. Fitzgerald, principal; Miss Bernice Obersham, teacher in high school, (45); Miss Lily G. Iverson, 7th and 8th, (27); Miss Amy B. Morris, 5th and 6th, (37); Miss Ruth Gannaway, 3rd and 4th, (56); Mrs. Frank Hafner, Primary, (64). Many more students were expected to register within the next week. In the spring of 1917, five were graduated from the Winner High School.



The beginning of school in September 1917 was delayed until the 17th, as the new schoolhouse was not ready for occupancy until then. Lloyd Mengel, clerk of the board, stated that the new structure was modern in every respect. The following year manual training and typewriting, taught by Supt. H.E. McKellor, had been added to the high school course of study. 

WHS1917 1.jpg


By 1919 the school population had increased so much that the board of education called for a special election which was held on March 9, 1920, for the purpose of building a new $75,000 grade school, to be placed on the northeast corner of the school site. Of the 173 votes cast, 161 were for the bond issue and 12 were against. Three contractors were hired to construct the new structure—Peter Kuipers, general contractor; C. S. Coonrod, Mechanical; and, Kings & Dixon, Architects. However, there seems to have been quite a delay in the work, for the classrooms were not ready for use until the fall of 1924.

In the fall of 1920, a book fee of $1.00 was charged to each student. When teacher contracts were issued in the spring, they stipulated that teachers would be given up to two weeks of sick leave. The substitutes would be appointed by the superintendent, would be paid $5.00 per day by the teachers. Miss Dorothy Moser became the first secretary for the principal and superintendent in the spring of 1921.

In the meantime, it was necessary to find temporary quarters wherever possible. At the beginning of the 1921-22 term, the board leased room in the Cameron building at the corner of Madison and Second Streets where the junior high classes were held. Because that group had become so large by the second semester, it had to be split. Part of the group was sent back to the main building and they occupied the former sewing room.

Perhaps the growth in that area was partly due to the fact that previous to January 1922 the Winner school had maintained and operated a rural school in the Scissons neighborhood east of Winner. That month a bus was purchased which transported those students to the town school.

In high school advanced courses in home economics were begun and new science classes in the first three high school grades were offered. Also a normal course could be taken by seniors, which upon completion, would yield second grade teaching certificate. Coaches were hired for both girls and boys athletics.

In March of 1922, the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools granted full membership to Winner High School. That’s a distinction which the school has been able to hold every year since.




Winner Schools   1965-1982

By Florence Hedlund, Frances Storm, and Lucile Mann

Written in 1982 for the Tripp County Diamond Jubilee, pg. 184-188.  Posted with permission from the Historical Society in 2008.

Through the years the Winner District has continued to expand and improve the quality of education offered youth of the community. The physical plant includes the Central Grade School, built in 1942, the original building built in 1917, the Middle School auditorium, built in 1951, Administration Building at 4th and Monroe, Westside Grade School (1956) Eastside (1958) on East Seventh, senior high school (1966) south of the Eastside Grade School, and the National Guard Armory (1970) to the east of the high school. The armory was a joint effort of the National Guard the school District, and the community, and is used by all three. It is used for many sports events, school concerts, and commencement exercises, as well as other events such as the Farm and Home Show, etc. The senior high school home economics rooms were in the armory. The hot lunches were prepared here.



The Eastside and Westside schools offered kindergarten through fourth grade. Central school had first through fifth, also the elementary school library and offices for the Winner City Elementary Principal and Rural Elementary principal. Since 1982,  the original building housed grades 6-8 and is called the middle school. From 1966-1982 it housed grades 7-8-9 and was called the junior high school. In 1992, the ninth grade was moved to the senior high building and sixth grade moved from Central Elementary it the Junior High building. Previous to 1966 this building was the high school building. The middle school auditorium classrooms are used for the special education classes. The auditorium was used for grade school sports, the plays, etc., put on by the high school drama department, and also the hot lunch meals were served here. The senior high vocational building housed the shop classes. The administration building had offices for the superintendent and business manager and also the shop and home economics classroom for the middle school.




The first kindergarten class was thought to have been held in 1918. The first four-year graduating class finished in 1918. The largest class to graduate was in 1971 when 143 students received their diplomas.


In 1972, the Winner School District was expanded to include a large number of rural districts through the central part of the county through the White River to the Nebraska border. In 1983, there were 16 rural schools in operation with an enrollment of 207 pupils and 23 teachers. There were 446 enrolled in the city elementary classes, with 26 teachers, 220 pupils in the middle school with 15 teachers, 280 students in the high school with 22 teachers.


The Winner schools have always offered quality education plus a variety of extra-curricular activities. Sports have been stressed from the beginning with football, basketball and track. In recent years, volleyball, wrestling and golf have been offered, also. An athletic program for girls is offered, too. The Athletic Field, which is just west of the city part, features and all-weather track with the latest lighting system, and in 1983 the new stadium, built through the efforts of the Winner Quarterback Club.


The 1982 football team was the winner of the first annual football playoffs. The varsity teams in all categories have won many honors and are enthusiastically supported by fans of the community.


Other activities offered to Winner students are band, vocal music, Distributive Education, Pep Club, Warriorettes (girl’s drill team), Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Thespians, Smoke Signal (formerly Rodeo), Rodeo club (which sponsors the annual high school rodeo), safety council and debate oral interpretation. The student council has a weekly 15-minute program on the radio station KWYR.


Mr. Jay Ruckdaschel is superintendent of the Winner School District. Eldon Williams is the present chairman of the school board. The district has an assessed valuation of $40,519,504 for agriculture property and $17,671,634 for non-agriculture property, for a total of $58,191,138. The 1983-84 budget is $3,212,789.