Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Roxhill Elementary School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10585
This People's History of Roxhill Elementary School is taken from Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. That book, published in 2002 by Seattle Public Schools, compiled profiles of all the public school buildings that had been used by the school district since its formation around 1862. The profiles from the book are being made available as People's Histories on courtesy of Seattle Public Schools. It should be noted that these essays are from 2000. Some of the buildings profiled are historic, some of recent vintage, and many no longer exist (new names and buildings not included in these profiles from 2000 have been added), but each plays or has played an important role in the education of Seattle's youth.

Roxhill Elementary School

In the early 1950s, residents of Roger's First Addition in West Seattle decided they needed a community club to improve and protect the neighborhood. They chose the name "Roxhill"  to define their location on the hill north of Roxbury Street. After organizing their club, the members focused on two priorities: acquiring a neighborhood playground and a school for the 140 children in their four-square-block area.

While investigating a possible site, the community group stumbled upon a vacant block of city-owned land that had been deeded over by King County in 1937 for a small airport that never materialized. In August 1954, the Seattle City Council granted the community a ten year lease on the property for a playground. At an October 2, 1954 meeting of the Seattle School Board and parks department, a proposal for a school and a five-acre playfield on the site was announced. The community relinquished its lease so this proposal could move forward.

A number of portable classrooms were moved onto the newly cleared 3.1-acre site at (S)W Roxbury and 28th Avenue SW in summer 1955. The school opened on September 7 with 237 pupils as an annex to Gatewood. The next autumn two more portables were added, along with an office portable, to accommodate an additional 100 students, some from newly annexed Roxbury Heights. Still another portable was needed in fall 1957 as enrollment climbed to 437.

After serving as vice-principal at Roxhill during the school's first year, Harrison Caldwell advanced to principal in 1956 and became the Seattle School District's first African-American principal. The school was officially named Roxhill Elementary on February 7, 1957.

The pattern of adding portables to handle increased enrollment was broken in 1958 when a permanent building opened for approximately 500 students. The sprawling single-story structure is wood frame with brick veneer. In 1971, two classrooms were combined to provide room for a learning resource center.

Roxhill became a K-3 school in 1979 and formed a triad with Dunlap (K, 4-6) and Fauntleroy (K-3) in accordance with the district's desegregation plan. Alternative Education No. 4 began in portables at Roxhill in September 1992 with 77 students in grades K-3. Parents actively worked to establish this first alternative school in West Seattle as a child-centered place. In September 1993, AE No. 4 moved to Boren and the following year it went to Genesee Hill.

Roxhill boasts an award-winning handbell choir, which has been directed by the same teacher for 25 years. About 75 students are involved in a yearlong study of Native American cultures of the Northwest and the salmon industry. Roxhill also maintains business partnerships with the Museum of Flight, Washington Mutual (with a weekly student banking program), and Saturn.


Name: Roxhill Elementary School
Location: 9430 30th Avenue SW
Building: 18-room brick
Architect: John Graham & Co.
Site: 3.01 acres
1958: Opened on September 3

Roxhill Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 273
Address: 9430 30th Avenue SW
Nickname: Stars
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Royal blue and gold


Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002).

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