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General School History
Class Lists Reunion Notes School History Education Foundation

The first school to be built in Ellis was in 1873. It was a small wooden schoolhouse on the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1881 a petition was circulated to raise $7,000 to build a stone schoolhouse. A bond issue passed, and board members located the new building south of the UPRR tracks (at that time, most businesses were located north of the tracks, so this indicated optimism about the town's growth). Plans were drawn up for a 36- by 66-foot building, and by the 1882 fall term, the stone schoolhouse was completed. This new school was very successful. According to the September 2, 1882, entry in the Ellis Weekly Highlight, "Every available house in town is occupied for the coming winter by people from the surrounding country who desire to send their chilren to school." Despite this fact, the school board was forced to cancel the term early in May due to lack of funds.

As railroad and agricultural interests continued to prosper in Ellis, the district built a brick building north of the stone school in 1916. The old stone school became the grade school, and this new brick school served as the high school. Throughout the years, new additions were made to the brick school, including a gymnasium and a music room.

After 1918, regaining momentum after World War I and the influenza, the community voted on a $100,000 bond issue to build a new high school across the creek. The grade school was moved into the brick building, and the old stone school was razed. A gymnasium and music room were added in 1951. This newest high school would soon have its share of problems though. Because of its location on the bank of Big Creek, whenever the water rose in the creek, the foundation also shifted at the school. There were large gaps along the walls, and the roof was in desperate need of repair. It was stressed that it would cost more to patch the old school than to build a new one.

The 1977-1978 school year was the first year for students to be in the new high school, located at 1706 South Monroe Street. This building featured air-conditioned classrooms, carpeting, band and vocal music rooms, art rooms, large woodworking shops, a large home economics room, computer labs, and many other modern features. At the time, it also had one of the largest and most complete gymnasiums in western Kansas. The new EHS building was all-around one of the finest school facilities in northwest Kansas, and it reflected well on the community and the value placed upon education.

The old high school building on Big Creek was torn down except for the gym and vocational agriculture building which were left standing and are still used today.


  • "Ellis School History" written by Karen Madorin for Fort Hays State University
  • "The History of Ellis Schools" written by Barbara Begler for Fort Hays State University