Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Rainier View Elementary School

  • Posted 9/11/2013
  • Essay 10578
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This People's History of Rainier View 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.

Rainier View Elementary School

In 1951, a committee from the Rainier Valley Community Club asked the Seattle Parks Department to install a playfield in the southeast Beacon Hill area. They were told that there first had to be a school in the area. The committee approached the Seattle School Board in 1952 and, in January 1953, Southeast Beacon Hill School was opened in an old gravel pit with five portables for grades K-3 to help ease overcrowding at Dunlap and Emerson.

The permanent name Rainier View Elementary School was selected by the Southeast Beacon Hill community because "Mt. Rainier dominates the scenery from the school." A sixth portable was added in September 1954 and, in fall 1961 a permanent school building was opened as a K-6 school. With the new building, enrollment went from 116 to 371.

In 1968-69, Rainier View began using the continuous-progress concept of education with Individually Prescribed Instruction, then a new program of studies. It was still in use in 1970-71.

The school's configuration changed to K-4 in 1973-74. At that time, two special education classes and two Head Start classes were opened in the vacated rooms. School enrollment was down to just under 200 in 1975-76. Under the district's desegregation plan initiated in 1979, Rainier View became a K-5 school.

Since 1995, the school has undergone a positive change. Its students and staff have worked steadily to improve academic achievement and school climate. Rainier View is now full to capacity with a waiting list for 1st and 4th graders. Reading is a focus of the curriculum, and teachers rely on phonics-based "direct instruction" methods, in which children are given specific reading strategies. Students have worn uniforms since fall 1997.


Name: Southeast Beacon Hill School
Location: 11230 Luther Avenue
Building: Portables
Site: 9.5 acres
1953: Opened on January 5 as annex to Dunlap
1954: Officially named Rainier View Elementary School on May 21
1961: Closed in June

Name: Rainier View Elementary School
Location: 11650 Beacon Avenue S
Building: 15-room 1-story
Architect: Durham, Anderson & Freed
Site: 9.5 acres
1961: Opened in September

Rainier View Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 278
Address: 11650 Beacon Avenue S
Nickname: Tigers
Configuration: K-5
Colors: Red and white


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

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