During the first half of the 20th century, a pear orchard covered the area around 22nd and West Viola Avenues. However, in 1951 things changed as the post WWII babies became ready for school. The pear trees became a memory as a new school, McClure Elementary, became a reality.
McClure was a brick-veneered building with a steel-truss structure, eight classrooms and asphalt tile-covered floors. It was constructed on 10 acres of the former Karr Orchards for $240,755. When McClure’s doors opened to 194 students in 1951, it filled an enormous need in southwest Yakima.
The school is named in memory of Dr. William L. McClure. He and his wife were pioneer teachers in Yakima. He served as principal of Central, the city’s first school, which was built in 1888. He also served as a school board member. Mr. and Mrs. McClure were major contributors in improving education in a town that was once considered a desert crossroads. But by the 1950’s Yakima was fast growing into the agricultural, industrial and cultural hub of central Washington.
As the city grew, so did McClure’s enrollment. In recent years, ten portables were added to accommodate growing programs. By the 1990’s enrollment reached over 500 students in grades kindergarten through fifth.
Yakima voters approved a $49 million bond issue in 1994. With state matching funds, more than $80 million was available for the modernization and expansion of the city’s schools.
At McClure a complete remodel, along with substantial new construction took place at a cost near $4.8 million. The completed building had space for 25 classrooms, a new library/media facility, computer center, music room, multipurpose area and full-sized gymnasium. Additionally each grade level now had a shared work area for small groups, tutoring, special projects or joint room use. However, McClure soon outgrew the new addition and as the new century began, three portables were added..
In May of 2002 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of McClure Elementary with a reception for teachers, students and parents. Our honored guest was William McClure, grandnephew of our school’s namesake, along with other members of his family. We presented Mr. McClure with a plaque and a picture of the school in memory of his great uncle.
A school that began with 194 post World War II “baby boomers” has grown into the largest elementary school in Yakima with approximately 650 students and over 70 staff members. In addition to the traditional grades one through five, McClure now offers all-day kindergarten and a special education preschool and kindergarten. In 2004 we initiated a dual language program in English and Spanish. Each year an additional grade level will be added until 2009, when Kindergarten through 5th grade will offer dual language classes.
The orchards surrounding McClure Elementary when it opened its doors are gone. As the neighborhood changed, so did the mission of our school. Today McClure is a community hub for the residences and businesses that surround it. The YMCA operates B.A.S.E., a program which provides quality care for students before and after school. The Yakima Parks and Recreation Department schedules gym and grounds use extensively throughout the year. The AAU, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, district DYE program, and a variety of other groups utilize the facilities. We also offer classes for parents in conjunction with McClure's counseling program and extended learning opportunities for our students. As we move forward into the 21st century, McClure Elementary is well positioned to serve our community.