Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: David T. Denny Middle School

  • Posted 9/12/2013
  • Essay 10597
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This People's History of David T. Denny Middle 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.

David T. Denny Middle School

It took some time before a second junior high school was built in southwest Seattle on property purchased in 1945. Although the new school was urgently needed because Madison Junior High was bulging at the seams, the November 16, 1950, West Seattle Herald reported, "The Korean war and other construction difficulties" would hold up completion of the new school until September 1952.

Denny Junior High School opened in the year of the centennial of the Denny party's landing at Alki Point and was named after David T. Denny, one of those early settlers and an early member of the Seattle School Board. The brother of Arthur Denny, David was involved in many real estate ventures and the development of Seattle's streetcar system.

The school opened to 1,030 students in fall 1952. Hughes was overcrowded that year so both 6th grade teachers and their students were assigned to rooms at Denny.

The junior high school facility is single-story with five buildings on three levels joined by breezeways. It is comprised of 35 classrooms, a library, combination lunchroom-auditorium, and a gymnasium.

Enrollment at the new school increased with the rapid population growth of southwest Seattle. In spring 1955, portables were first placed on the grounds as extra classrooms. The first five graduating classes moved on to West Seattle High School. After 1957, they went to neighboring Chief Sealth High School.

A 4,000-seat stadium serving both the high school and junior high was constructed to the east of Denny in 1960. The Southwest Community Center pool is also used jointly by both schools.

Enrollment at Denny peaked at over 1,600 students between 1959 and 1963, with 22 portables in use. For a few years prior to 1961, the 9th grade classes were housed at Sealth due to a lack of space at Denny. Sadly, two of Denny's first three principals, Richard Pomeroy and James Denton, passed away in February 1961 and February 1964, respectively. By 1974, about two-thirds of the 9th graders attended Sealth High School. In 1982-83, Denny went to 7-8 configuration. Sixth graders were added in 1989-90.

Principal Joan Allen, well-loved by her students and respected by her colleagues, passed away in the middle of the 1992-93 school year. A garden on the school grounds was dedicated to her memory.

Currently Denny has two "elementary-style," all-day 6th grade classrooms in addition to regular middle school scheduling. A school-wide Performance Celebration highlights student artwork, essays, poetry, wood projects, crafts, PE demonstrations, musical performances, computer projects, and more. The outstanding PE program includes swimming classes, as well as wrestling, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, track, and volleyball.

Sealth Stadium, which serves both the high school and middle school, is being revamped. Grass will be replaced with synthetic turf and new bleachers will be installed.


Name: David T. Denny Junior High School
Location: 8402 30th Avenue SW
Building: 35-room, 1-story brick
Architect: Mallis & DeHart
Site: 32 acres
1950: Named on May 5
1952: Opened in September

David T. Denny Middle School in 2000
Enrollment: 870
Address: 8402 30th Avenue SW
Nickname: Dolphins
Configuration: 6-8
Colors: Blue 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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