More than 20 names have graced West Fargo school buildings since School District Number 6 opened with 14 students in 1877.
Both sites operated until 1923 when North School, now Leidel Education Center, was built on Main Avenue.
Six years prior, Equity Cooperative Packing Co. opened a meat processing plant in West Fargo. Its working families helped provide enough students to fill North, a two-classroom school and gymnasium.
Armour Co. bought the plant in 1925, drawing more families with school-age children, resulting in expansions to the school in 1934 and 1938.
One year later, a new school was built at Third Avenue and Third Street South, housing grades 7-12. It later became the city’s first high school and is now Clayton Lodoen Community Center and Public Library.
That’s where the “Packer” nickname evolved.
“The story in my family was that Armour Co. would pay for the curtain for the school stage if they would name the team “Packers,” said Mary Jo (Jameson) Moorhead, whose grandfather and father worked for Armour.
It is believed the packing plant also agreed to provide sewer and water to the school, said Moorhead, whose grandfather Joe Jameson was elected the city’s first mayor in 1930.
Since then, especially recently, naming schools in West Fargo often honors city and school leaders, representing geographic locations, and using submitted themes.
Three of the district’s 12 elementary schools are geographically named.
South Elementary, 945 7th Ave. W., opened in 1941 with wings added in 1954 and 1960. The school was remodeled and a gymnasium built in 1973.
Eastwood Elementary, 500 10th Ave. E., was built in 1973.
Westside Elementary, 945 7th Ave. W., was built in 1977.
L.E. Berger Elementary, formerly a middle school, opened in 1967 and was named in honor of the school superintendent.
Berger became West Fargo superintendent in 1935 and retired in 1972. During his tenure the district grew from one school and 50 students to three buildings and 1,800 students.
Today, more than 8,500 students are enrolled in the districts 18 education centers.
Leidel Education Center is named after Marvin Leidel, who joined the district as a teacher in 1960 and retired as superintendent in 1999.
Located at 207 Main Ave. W., the facility houses the district’s administrative offices and West Fargo Community High School, an alternative school.
In 2004, the West Fargo School Board named the district’s new Cheney Middle School, 825 17th Ave E., in honor of former Superintendent Chuck Cheney.
Cheney had worked in the school district for nearly 40 years and was named superintendent in 1999.
Aurora Elementary and the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center both opened in 2007. Their names were selected from a list of more than 100 entries submitted by school district residents.
Aurora is located at 3420 9th St. W., in Eagle Run and Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center is at 800 40th Ave. E.
A second kindergarten center was also approved that year.
Osgood Kindergarten Center opened in 2009 at 44th Ave. and 57th St. S., in the Osgood addition.
In 2009, the school board also renamed its first kindergarten center honoring former West Fargo mayor and state legislator Clayton A. Lodoen.
A champion for West Fargo schools, Lodoen is credited with a 1973 political coup that froze North Dakota school district boundaries and secured the West Acres Shopping Center tax base for West Fargo School District before Fargo could annex it. That arrangement continues today.
The naming of two new schools in 2012 followed a patriotic theme.
Freedom Elementary, 401 26th Ave. E., opened in fall 2012, its name selected from 85 submissions. Liberty Middle School, 801 36th Ave. E., the top name choice from 40 nominations, opened in fall 2013. Both are located south of Interstate 94.
The district added a second high school in 2012, as an addition to Sheyenne 9th Grade Center.
The new facility is now an expanded 9-12 grade education center named West Fargo Sheyenne High School, 800 40th Ave. E., home of the West Fargo Sheyenne Mustangs.
Set to open this fall is Independence Elementary, 3700 54th St. S. Its name was selected from 179 suggestions submitted to the school board.
Legacy Elementary School, 5150 9th St. W.,the district’s 10th elementary school, was named in March, after residents submitted 198 suggestions for naming the school. Legacy Elementary is slated to open in Fall 2015.
Over the years, schools in two neighboring communities were annexed into West Fargo School District.
Horace School District, eight miles to the south, joined WFSD in 1962. Kindergarten through 6th grade students remained in the Horace community and middle and high school students were bussed to West Fargo. A new elementary school was opened in Horace in 1983 and was extensively remodeled in 2003-2004.
Harwood Elementary, eight miles north, was built in 1977 serving students in grades one through five.