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Pinedale Elementary School was constructed during the post-WWII boom of the 1950’s. It was formally dedicated in 1958 and opened its doors that fall. The school’s name was chosen as the winner of a student contest; Sharon Buck, a sixth-grader at the time, came up with the name “Pinedale Elementary” – a departure from the standard practice of naming elementary schools for historical and presidential figures. The name fits well; the school is nestled at the foot of the Ponderosa pine forest that defines west Rapid City and connects it to the greater Black Hills.
The building itself was also notable because of its departure from routine construction. The hills, gullies and slope of the area provided a challenge to traditional architectural designs of the time. To adapt, the school was built in a stair-step configuration; each level contains two classrooms and an outside door to better manage the movement of students between the building and the playground. The school grounds were created to be large and expansive to encourage field sports and outdoor play. There are now two basketball courts, a tennis court, swings, slides, bars, nets, climbing equipment and other playground accessories to keep students busy and active during the school day.
Many features that were considered “forward-thinking” in 1958 are still enjoyed today. Each classroom has high ceilings and many windows to bring in natural light, lots of counter space for books, computers and activities, and a room design that is adaptable to promote workgroup lessons and close proximity to the teacher at all times. Each room has its own sink – several rooms even have their own bathroom and water fountain. Just outside the classroom, the hallway corridors are lined by wide, sunny windows that open up to a central garden courtyard, where students are able to work or enjoy lunch on a nice day.
In 2021, Pinedale was honored with the coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award, which affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year, and only four schools in South Dakota were named Blue Ribbon Status in 2021; Pinedale was one of those four.
Principal Chip Franke congratulated the Pinedale community, parents, students, and staff for tremendous recognition from a local, state and national level. “This would not be possible without a unified belief in the importance of student attendance, student learning, teacher collaboration, and a highly engaged parent/teacher organization. With so many challenges in the educational world today, it is nice to be able to celebrate this Blue Ribbon School status achievement with all of our Pinedale Panther nation!”
We work every day to continue this tradition of excellence and to ensure that all of our students “enter to discover the world and depart to lead the world”.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped to make Pinedale a GREAT school!