History of usd 378 - Riley County

The Beginning

In the mid-1950s, Raymond Swanson, a member of the Leonardville School Board, went to a state convention in Topeka.

One of the leaders of the State School Board came up to Raymond and asked, "What are you doing in Leonardville to preserve your school? You know, that consolidation is coming and if you do nothing, Clay Center and Manhattan will absorb your schools into their school districts."

Raymond said this got him to thinking, so he came back and started contacting area schools to see if they would be interested in combining their high schools to make a start at the consolidation effort.

The Combination
He contacted Green, Wakefield, Riley, Keats, Randolph, and others. In short, he had 111 meetings to finally get Leonardville, Riley, and Keats to agree to combine their high schools into one.

The first vote to do this by the patrons of these districts failed, but the 2nd one passed. Hence the school was built on the corner that it is in the country because Riley would go no farther north and Leonardville would go no farther to the south.

The School & Name
The school opened in the fall of 1959, and the consolidation of school districts statewide took place in 1965.

By the time that came into reality, Riley County High School was established, and the school district followed form.

The first choice of a name for this new school was Fairview, but at that time there was already a Fairview High School in Kansas, so Riley County High School was selected since it contained so much of Riley County.

A good choice of a name, unless people forget to say "County" and then the Leonardville citizens get a little upset because they will readily tell you that Riley High School closed in 1959.

That is what I know and what I have been told. Because of the foresight of Raymond Swanson, I believe we have our own school district in this area.

Kevin Larson
Local Historian and Retired History / Social Studies Instructor
Riley County High School