When Papillion-La Vista's fifteenth elementary school opens in the fall of 2015, many may recognize the name. Others may even say “I went to that school!” The Papillion-La Vista Schools board of education approved the name Prairie Queen, after a one-room schoolhouse that stood in the same area. The new elementary school will be located just north of Werner Park baseball field in Papillion. The original Prairie Queen sat near what is now 114th & Highway 370 on land donated by the grandfather of Prairie Queen and Papillion High School alum Elaine Haug Moore. Elaine’s father went on to build the swing set and it still sits on the property of Elaine and her husband Bob. The school opened in 1884 and operated until 1957 when it was purchased and converted into Papillion Grange Hall.
The name may be the same, but the two schools will be vastly different. The new Papillion-La Vista elementary school will house kindergarten through 6th grade students – all with their own classroom, a library, a cafeteria and gym, offices for school administration, and even indoor bathrooms. The original Prairie Queen housed students through 8th grade – all in one room! Papillion High School graduates Becky Seibold Crofoot (1960), Harold Eurich (1949), Richard Eurich (1953), Elaine Haug Moore (1953), and Joyce Schober Siepelmeier (1951) shared some memories of their time at Prairie Queen with the Foundation:
• When it was time for students’ class, you would pull your chair up to the teacher’s desk to have your lesson, and then go back to your desk while another grade level had their lesson.
• There was no homework because when you went home to the farm you had chores to do.
• Lunch was whatever Mom packed!
• For our Christmas program we made a stage of foot-tall boxes and hung a sheet to make the stage curtain.
• The school was warmed by a wood burning stove. The teacher had to get there early to start it up. Students were required to haul coal inside to fuel the fire. “The fun time was when we locked the teacher in the coal house!” said Richard Eurich.
• We took a field trip to the city - Omaha – and visited Omar Bakery, Roberts Dairy, and Armour Packing plant. The meat packing plant was operating while we visited.
• Water was hand-pumped outside, then put in a ceramic jug inside the school for students to fill their cups.
• We had to run outside to use the restrooms, even when it was “cold as heck.”
A special thank you to these alumni for sharing their time, stories, and photos.
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Prairie Queen 1914
Prairie Queen Swing Set
Prairie Queen 1942-1943 School Year. Back row: Teacher Ethel Lee, Harold Eurich, Herbert Mayer, Maxine Arp, Dorothy Shobert, Patricia Seibold, Joyce Shobert. Front row: Danny Seibold, Dick Eurich, Kathryn "Babe" Seibold, Elaine Haug, Bobby Haug.
Top photo courtesy of Sarpy County Historical Museum. Additional photos shared by gracious Prairie Queen alumni.
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