Lincoln Elementary School

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School History

Lincoln Elementary School has a rich history. The first phase of Lincoln’s current location at 815 Locust Street was completed in 1882 to take the place of the White School. The old Lincoln School was given a “poor” rating due to the wood structure, inadequate lighting, and obsolete equipment. It was razed and the new Lincoln School was erected on the site of historic Forester’s Park. Forester’s Park was located on Locust Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets.


During the 1950’s the city and school board initiated a move toward updating the local schools. The local School Board saw public support quickly falling in line behind a district bonding program for the construction of new buildings. This made it possible to abandon the old Webster and Lincoln Schools. The Parent-Teacher Association was reorganized for the primary purpose of publicizing the plan and promoting a favorable vote on the bond issue.

In school board minutes from 1950, “Forester’s Park was the only logical and sensible location for the new proposed Lincoln School. If the building were set back 40 feet from the corner that would leave the hill and one entire side for park purposes.” The park had terraced seating and a stone-pillared band platform. The local PTA convinced the voters that this was the right location for the new school.


The first addition to the red-brick school was built in 1951 and contained 14 classrooms. The basement contained a furnace room and an apartment for the janitor. The janitor’s apartment included a bedroom, a combination dining-kitchen room, and a bathroom with a tub and shower. In 1967 another addition was constructed which included four classrooms and a gymnasium which also served as a cafeteria. In 1974, shower rooms, toilets, and a kitchen were added to the all-purpose gym. A third addition of an entry and offices was added to the original structure in 1983 and four more classrooms were added in 1987.


To meet federal ADA guidelines and the growing need for additional special education services and technological advances, a new plan was created to bring the school up-to-date. In March of 2011 the new addition was completed. Construction included a new library, computer lab, multi-purpose room, and a music room. A room to conduct testing and special education services and an office for the school counselor were also part of the new construction. An elevator was added as part of the project and all the restrooms were designed and re-constructed to be in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. We are happy to say that our school is currently handicapped accessible to all our students, staff, parents, and visitors.


All of the additions to the original school of 1951 have been constructed to meet the growing responsibilities that are part of public schools’ curriculum and instruction. The gymnasium serves as the setting for a district-adopted K-5 physical education program. It also serves as a cafeteria for our school’s daily breakfast and lunch program. The gym provides an environment to conduct school and community-wide assemblies and special events. The music classroom serves as the setting for our music educators to provide a K-5 music curriculum and to provide small-group band and orchestra lessons to our fourth and fifth grade students.


All our K-5 students visit our library once a week to listen to our librarian read a story or portions of a book to them. Then, with the assistance of the librarian and classroom teacher, each student is given the opportunity to check out one or two books from the thousands of books that are part of the library inventory.


Classrooms are also given the opportunity to visit our computer lab which contains more than 25 desk-top computers. Under the supervision of their classroom teacher, students are excited to browse the world-wide web to access information for school-related topics of interest. The computers are also used by students to practice and refine their reading, writing, math, geography, social studies, and science skills.


Yankton’s Title 1 program was initiated during the 1965-66 school year. For most of its history, Title 1 services at Lincoln School were provided in the south hallway of the second floor. Today, Title 1 services are provided in the Title 1 room, located on the first floor of our school. There, students receive individualized special instruction to improve their reading and writing skills as part of our Reading Recovery program.


In 1973, the federal government mandated that each public school district provide “appropriate” special education services to each qualified student residing within the district. In order to meet the educational goals of each Individual Education Plan, these services must be provided within the “least restrictive environment.” When appropriate, these services can be provided within the Resource Room at Lincoln School.


Other specialized services, which include physical and occupational therapy, are provided by visiting specialists who use our gym and facilities to serve the specialized needs of students. A speech and language clinician serves students who qualify for speech and language services at Lincoln School. Students visit her office anywhere from one to four times per week to receive specialized instruction. Our school counselor provides individualized and small-group guidance instruction to students who seek her guidance and support.


As I noted in the first part of this history, the local PTA was reorganized to promote the construction of a new Lincoln School in the early 1950’s. Lincoln’s PTA continues to be an active and proud supporter of our school. Numerous playground and school projects have been planned, financed, and installed by our parent volunteers. Many school-related projects which include assemblies, carnivals, Bingo Night, visiting authors, games for classroom during inside-recess, and countless other acts of generosity and kindness have been part of Lincoln’ rich history of cooperation between parents and teachers. Members of our local PTA have always recognized and lived out the motto that “Educating everyone takes everyone.” 


As you have read through this brief history of our school, you can’t help but notice that our school district has been a leader in meeting the growing needs of our students and their families. With our community’s financial support, we hope to continue to make the appropriate changes that will help us meet the needs of all students.



Della Reich (1930-67)

Bob Walser (1967-98)

Paul Struck (1998-2020)

Tony Beste (2020-Present)