Jefferson Area Neighborhood Association (JANA)
Fargo, North Dakota
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Target Corporation offers the neighborhood an opportunity to
support Jefferson Elementary School with a 1% donation of
purchases make on the Target credit card, RedCard.

To date (August 2011) $4,937.31 has been donated to Jefferson
School. You can sign up for this program by going to www.Target.com/tcoe
Those last for letters stand for Take Charge of Education.

The other way to sign up is by going to customer service
at one of the stores. This costs you nothing and supports
Jefferson School.



Halgrimson: Jefferson school used platoon system
Andrea Hunter Halgrimson - 10/31/2009


A photograph taken circa 1927-28 shows the former Jefferson school at 315 16th St. S. in Fargo. Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University

An announcement was made in December 1922 that Jefferson Elementary School, which was under construction at 315 16th St. S., would open the following spring as a platoon school, the first in North Dakota. It was an elementary school.

Jefferson opened in April 1923, with 300 students in six grades – although the school had room for more than 600 pupils. The platoon system was touted as more economical because all of the school’s rooms would be in use all of the time, and it would better prepare students for the future by offering a wider variety of subjects.

Superintendent James G. Moore described the way the system works: “The regular teacher has the same children for a quarter of a day. These then pass to special classes, where they will usually remain 30 minutes in a class, while another group of children, who spent the first quarter in special classes, will go to the regular teacher for the second quarter. The first group will return to the regular teacher for the third quarter, while the second group goes to more special classes. During the fourth quarter, the second group returns to the regular teacher, while the first group goes again to the special classes. There will be more than two groups, but following the two through the day shows how the plan operates. The plan enables a school to offer all around advantages at a minimum cost. … It makes it possible to have special teachers of music and others as required. It relieves the regular teacher of handling a large number of subjects and gives her the opportunity to make more thorough preparation in the subjects taught.”

Moore said the plan had been used successfully in Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Paul.

Students attending Jefferson came from the territory bounded on the north by the N.P. railroad; on the east by the middle of 13th Street South on the south by a line diagonal from Sixth Avenue and 13th Street South to 10th Avenue and 17th Street South; and on the west by the city limits. Students from other schools with too many pupils were transferred to Jefferson.

The school’s first principal was Signe Hanson, and the teachers were Elsie Bauer, Ivy Brandt, Thekla Carstens, Ruth Knudson, Agnes Levorsen, Louise Luther, Mrs. W. H. Murfin, Ruth Odell, Mary O’Brien, Mrs. John Rose and Clara Undseth.

The areas of studies listed were arithmetic, art, biography, canning, drying and preserving food, civics, ethics, geography, health and hygiene, history, industry, literature, music appreciation, patriotism, scout-craft and handicraft and travel.

For nature study, the students kept daily records of all nature observations, including birds, weather and other things they found worthy of note.

School authorities were so pleased with the platoon system that they planned to introduce it into Horace Mann and Woodrow Wilson.

When my Fargo Central High School graduating class had our 50th reunion last year, a photographer took pictures of the groups from the various grade schools and junior highs. Eleven of those attending the reunion were alumni of Jefferson School: Gordy Aamoth, Sue Bohlig, Ruth Hanson, Jim Lanier, Jerome Larson, Mary Ellen Linderman, Gerri Maxson, Margaret Neeb, Dave Nelson, Cathie Revland and Que Spalding. Jim Lanier came all the way from Alaska.

They were saddened to hear of the old Jefferson’s demise. After a new Jefferson School was built in 2007, the old school was razed. The new school sits to the west of the old one on the same block.