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Local History
Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

2014 Marks the 150th Birthday for Sunshine Elementary

Springfield Public Schools - Sunshine Elementary

One of Springfield’s oldest schools celebrates a major milestone this week. KSMU’s Simone Cook has details.

Sunshine Elementary School was founded in 1864 as a country school on the corners of a then dirt Sunshine Lane and gravel Campbell Road.

David Martin, current principal of the school in Springfield, explains that the facility wasn’t even a part of the city in the mid-1860s.

“That it [Sunshine Elementary] was actually in Campbell Township, the boundaries of Springfield did not extend out to here. And in fact, Sunshine School wasn’t even part of the first group of Springfield Public Schools, and so it was on the outskirts, outside of the city limits. Most likely it was a pay-to attend school, there was some sort of fee to get to go there, and it wasn’t brought into the Springfield school system until quite a bit later.”

One misconception about Sunshine Elementary is that the school was named after the street, when in fact it was the other way around.

The lands around the current location of the school also hold historical significance. During the Civil War, Mary Whitney Phelps, a prominent Springfield figure, transformed a four-room home into an orphanage, which was located just west of where the current elementary school is located.

Farrow Carson, a member of the Sunshine Elementary PTA, says the school has been housed in three different buildings.

“The first two were one-room school houses on the corner of Sunshine and Campbell, and the first one burned in a fire, and then they outgrew the second one, and that is when they moved to the location where they are now on Sunshine and Jefferson. That was in 1930.”

In honor of the 150th anniversary, Sunshine will be hosting a birthday celebration on Friday. It will take place at the school from 5:30-8 p.m., with guest speakers Superintendent John Jungmann and Mayor Bob Stephens. The event will also include food, music, games, a Civil War re-enactment and the planting of a commemorative Maple tree.

Individuals who would like to contribute can contact the Sunshine office at 523-5200, email or visit the school on Facebook.