PHOTOS: Community celebration of Schmitz Park Elementary’s history

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

After 54 years, it’s down to three weeks before students and staff have their last classes at Schmitz Park Elementary, before moving to the new Genesee Hill Elementary, opening this fall.

Last night, hundreds of people gathered at the school to celebrate its half-century-plus history.


They included members of the extended Schmitz family, which not only donated the land on which the school was built, but has stayed involved with the school all these years:


At the event, we photographed Dietrich Schmitz, great-grandson of Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz, with wife Mary Howland Schmitz and mother Vicki Schmitz Block. Family photos and memorabilia were part of what was displayed around the school last night:


The “love (the Schmitz) family has for this community” was subsequently acknowledged by high-profile Schmitz Park alum, King County Executive Dow Constantine, speaking while holding toddler daughter Sabrina, acknowledging “fond memories of a place that did quite right by us.”


For eight years, Gerrit Kischner has led Schmitz Park as its principal:


He recalled arriving at the school in 2008, when its enrollment was 315 and it was something of a well-kept secret; it has more than doubled since then, to 650, the capacity of the new campus half a mile away.

New memories will be made from the moment that school opens on September 6th, but those from last night will linger as well. The event was organized by parent Fiona Preedy:


After speeches in the courtyard, last night’s celebration moved on to group photos – see some of them after the jump:

Current and former staffers:


The next two, current and former parents:



And these final two, current and former students:



What lies in the future for the Schmitz Park Elementary building and campus? Yet to be determined.

17 Replies to "PHOTOS: Community celebration of Schmitz Park Elementary's history"

  • Alison June 4, 2016 (11:17 am)

    It was such a great night! A few of us current teachers met a former teacher from 1956! She was amazing! We talked to her and her sister almost the whole evening! She even showed us some pictures of her teaching!

    • Bonnie June 4, 2016 (3:53 pm)

      It must have been a crazy good night for you to be standing on the ceiling!  ;)  (just kidding, glad it was fun)

      • WSB June 4, 2016 (5:03 pm)

        Sorry on behalf of our system that the photo is flipped. I’ll fix it when I can. Funny thing is that when I first saw that comment while viewing on my phone, it was right side up. Photos from commenters go into a different system than photos we upload but I should still be able to download it, flip it, and reupload it when back at HQ.

  • Blair June 4, 2016 (4:01 pm)

    Did anyone happen to record Dow’s great impromptu speech on video?

    • WSB June 4, 2016 (4:30 pm)

      I hope someone did, but I apologize that we didn’t. Didn’t realize he was there and going to speak (then again, he joked he was surprised too), so I was not in line of sight. – TR

      • Clay Eals June 6, 2016 (3:37 pm)

        I was present and videotaped much of the proceedings, including Dow’s speech. It will take a few days, given other pressing tasks, to get the video edited, but soon it will be posted on the Southwest Seattle Historical Society website. I will add another reply here at that time.

        –Clay Eals, executive director, Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

  • JayDee June 4, 2016 (4:22 pm)

     I am happy the Schmitz family is still involved. My Nephew went there and my home is a stone’s throw from the namesake park.  I hope the school site remains an active school at sometime in the future.

  • Cami June 4, 2016 (4:51 pm)

    Sorry to have missed this but thrilled to see Mr. Keller in the photos.  He was such a large part of making 1st grade great for many kids!  Thanks, Jeff!

  • Julia June 4, 2016 (8:31 pm)

    I am sad and envious that we Genesee Hill alumni never got to say goodbye to our beloved school.

  • Teresa Kitamura June 4, 2016 (10:08 pm)

    I am sorry that we missed this event. Both of our children attended Schmitz . I understand that they had commemorative books . Is it possible to still get these? I would like one for each of our children and would gladly pay for them. If I could get a contact name/# that would be great.

    Thank you

    • Fiona@SP June 14, 2016 (9:18 am)

      Hi Teresa, please email me at and I will be happy to arrange to get you a book, they are $20 and we will be offering through the end of the month (or so).  Thanks! Fiona

  • Nancy June 5, 2016 (8:33 am)

    I am now 70 and went to Schmitz Park Elementary when it first opened.  At that time it was an all portable school.  I think that was better than 54 years ago.  If that figure is true, then I must’ve been 16 when I went there.   Perhaps, that number dated from the time the school went from portables to an actual building.  I attended Lafayette Elementary K-2, until Schmitz opened.”

  • Elissa N June 5, 2016 (9:44 am)

    Looks like a wonderful celebration for everyone and two thumbs up to Ms. Fiona Preedy for all her hard work!! 

  • Mona Ayer June 5, 2016 (2:39 pm)

    Our son Bill was a student at Schmitzpark the year it opened.  His grandson Chase has been a student there this last year it has been open.

  • Gerrit Kischner June 5, 2016 (10:17 pm)

    We are very grateful to Fiona, the Schmitz Family, Dow Constantine and his whole family, and all of the former students, parents and staff who went out of their way to create one more great memory at Schmitz Park School.  It was a very special evening , and we are again humbled by the good will and community spirit that fill our new space at Genesee Hill.

    (Quick note on the 1956 date: there were indeed portables on the site earlier, starting in 1953, but these were operated under the direction of the Genesee Hill principal, Edith Young.  In 1956, the assistant principal from Genesee Hill,  Dorothy Jack (later Christiansen), was appointed to run Schmitz Park School independently.  Not to say having a principal makes a school . . . )

  • viewer June 7, 2016 (9:35 am)

    Imagine how concerned nearby residents might be to see on the front of WSB the implication that Schmitz Park itself  is going to be gone for some reason.

    “So Long Schmitz Park”  doesn’t sound very appropriate or accurate as a headline.    

    • WSB June 7, 2016 (9:40 am)

      Hi, “viewer.” Thanks for sharing your view. That’s not a headline, it’s a short slug for one of our “spotlight” stories, which are generally stories that have been in circulation for a day or two or three but in the “you might have missed this” files. Looking at the actual story – if they hadn’t already seen it since it was published Saturday morning – would bring the full details; this also is an event that had been previewed weeks ahead of time, and the fact the school will soon be vacated is nothing new, either. – TR

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