History of the Southland School District
This history of the Southland School District was taken from the "History of the Adams Public School, From the "Southland Schools: An Update on the Adams High School Alumni Manual), printed in 1990.
The information was compiled by Harriet Weness, an Adams High School alumni. Information was taken from the first alumni manual, school records, friends, neighbors, school yearbooks, interviews, Southland staff members and secretaries.
Amy Weimer, a Business Professionals of America student at Southland High School, prepared the booklet for publication. Amy was advised by Dean Tipton.
On March 16, 1970, the school boards of Adams, Elkton, and Rose Creek met for an informal discussion on the possibility of consolidation. The next month they drew up a resolution favoring consolidation. A plan was drawn up and presented to the State Board of the Department of Education. Under the plan, all three districts would be dissolved and a new district formed. Voters in all the districts would have a chance to vote on the proposal.
If the consolidation was approved, a new district number would then be assigned by the state and a board election for the new district would have to be held 30 to 60 days after such a number was assigned. The old boards would continue to run their own districts until July 1, 1971, following the election of the board of the consolidated district. Thus, for a time, there would be four boards in operation. Complete control by the new board would only be assumed after July 1, 1971. Present board members could run for the new board and thus serve on both boards.
Educational advantages, building needs, declining enrollment, and possibly mandatory state legislation forcing consolidation of smaller schools were the prime reasons listed for consolidation of Rose Creek, Elkton, and Adams.
On October 6, 1970, the vote for consolidation was held. Results were: Rose Creek (Dist. 498) -- Yes-260 and No-95; Elkton (Dist. 494) -- Yes-251 and No-120; Adams (Dist. 491) did not vote, as they did not request a vote on the merger question. The vote for both schools was a record breaker.
The new district was given the number 500. Election for the new school board members was held December 8,1970 at each of the three schools. On December 16, the first school board, elected by the entire district, had its first organizational meeting. Members were: Gayle Bergstrom (1971-1987), who was chosen Chairman; Vance Torgerson (1971-1975), Clerk; Henry Knutson (1971-1977), Treasurer; Kenneth Sprau (1971-1973); Wilfred Bissen (1971- ); and Myles Bendtsen (1971-1973), as Directors.
One of the first decisions was to hire a superintendent. Many felt that one of the acting superintendents should be hired; but after much discussion and negotiating, it was agreed that all three should resign and a new one be hired. James F. Roberts was hired and took up his duties for the school in 1971 and served for three years, until 1974. Dr. Dennis Peterson came as Superintendent in 1974 and stayed five years, until 1979. Mr. Larry Tompkins was hired in 1979 and is the present (1989-1990) Superintendent.
A contest was held among the students at Adams, Elkton, and Rose Creek schools, with the name "Southland" submitted by several students. Louise Prescott's entry was selected because of the reasons she offered: (1) The three schools were once members of the Southland Athletic Conference, (2) It would apply if any other schools in the area would eventually join the district, (3) It is located in the southernmost area of the state, and (4) The name would in no way involved the names of the villages in the school district and thus eliminate any antagonism.
Louise was a junior at Adams High School and a daughter of George and Florence Prescott.
A District Student Council Committee of 12 members was selected to have the responsibility of developing an overall structure for administering student activities of a district-wide nature. Members were: Lori Nelson, Lowell Larson, Scott Anderson, Dean Vermilyea, Jon Sprau, Garry Heard, Jean Jech, Vicky Wagner, Brad Bergene, Lon Gladitsch, John Schlichter, and Brenda Kilgore.
After consulting with their individual schools, they decided on "Rebels" for their mascot. Colors would be red, white and blue, and the school song would alternate between "Go You Northwestern," and, "On Wisconsin."
It took several years before classes were arranged most effectively. By the 1973-1974 school year, extra curricular activities were combined and all district grades nine through twelve were meeting in Adams (plus Kindergarten and special education). By 1975-1976, all of the district sixth through eighth grades were in the middle school at Elkton and grades one through five met at the elementary school in Rose Creek. Kindergarten was moved to Rose Creek for the 1977-1978 school year.
The class of 1974 was the first graduation from Southland. One Thousand three hundred seventy-eight students have graduated in the last 16 years (1974-1989). In comparison, 1535 students graduated from Adams High School during the years 1918-1973 (55 years).
A bond issue was presented to the voters of the district in November 1972, for $3,500,000, for acquiring a site two and a half miles north of Adams on County Road seven and constructing, furnishing, and equipping a new junior-senior high school for the district. It was defeated -- Yes-217, and No-1816.
Another bond issue was presented in April 1973, for $1,900,000, for remodeling the Elkton School and if that bond passed to add another for $495,000 to build a gymnasium. The first one was defeated -- Yes-547, and No-1299, as was the second -- Yes-440, and No-1361.
During the next few years, there have been repairs and remodeling projects at each of the schools. Class rooms were added to Rose Creek in about 1976. In the spring of 1974, the Miller building on Main Street in Adams was auctioned. District #500 purchased it. Hendrix Associates, Inc.,of Minneapolis drew up plans for remodeling. By September 1974 it was ready to serve as a vocational center for the district.