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School History


Marin FenwickMarin B Fenwick (ca. 1860–1928) was a writer, suffragist, and civic leader, born in Highland County, Ohio, around 1860, the daughter of James and Marinda (Sloan) Fenwick. She earned a degree at Rockford Female Seminary (later Rockford College) in Illinois, where she was a classmate of Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop. She lived in the Midwest for a while and then moved to San Antonio in 1891. The next year she took a job with the San Antonio Express, thus beginning a newspaper career that continued until shortly before her death. Fenwick served as editor of the society page until 1911, when she began a column entitled "Facts and Fancies." In addition to this column she began a second one, "Just Among Ourselves," for the San Antonio Evening News in 1918. She also edited and published Who's Who Among the Women of San Antonio and Southwest Texas in 1917. Fenwick was active in women's club work in San Antonio and held positions of leadership in the Woman's Club, Wednesday Luncheon Club, and Young Women's Christian Association. Her other memberships included the San Antonio History Club. She was an ardent advocate of voting rights for women and was involved in local and state suffrage organizations. Through this effort she became a close friend of San Antonio suffragist Mary Eleanor Brackenridge. In 1905 Fenwick sailed around the world with Eleanor and her brother George Brackenridge and met woman suffrage leaders in other countries along the way. Highlights from this trip were chronicled in the San Antonio Express. In 1924 Governor Pat Neff and San Antonio leaders honored Fenwick for her lengthy service to the local press. Marin Fenwick, a Presbyterian, died after a brief illness on June 27, 1928, in San Antonio and was buried in Mission Burial Park.

Fenwick Elementary School was built in 1931.  The school is located at 1930 Waverly Avenue and covers the entire block bounded by Waverly Avenue, Emory, Kentucky and Wilson Streets.   The original building was of cream brick and contained only six classrooms.   The school opened in September 1932.  There were only two grade levels - 1st and 2nd grade.  The original office was located in what is today, part of the clinic.  In February 1933, the principal, Miss Molly Nelson, along with mothers in the district, asked that ninety children from the Protestant Orphans' Home be enrolled in the school.  It was then possible to use all of the six classrooms in the building.

In 1940, Mr. W.J. Knox, who was principal, died while seated on the stage during a Father's Night program at Fenwick.  The cafeteria had been built during his administration, connected by a porch, with a breezeway between the two buildings.  Today, this connecting breezeway has been enclosed and houses an elevator. The P.T.A. deeply appreciated Mr. Knox's services to them and to their children and demonstrated this by placing a bronze plaque on the inside of the cafeteria wall to the right of the door.

By the 1948-49 school year, Fenwick was growing so rapidly that is was made a full-time school.  Los Angeles Heights was taken into the San Antonio District and patrons wanted their children admitted to the school because, as one neighbor expressed it, "We live so close that we can toss a stone into the school yard".  Thus, to accommodate more students, a two-room portable was moved from the Houston School to the Fenwick grounds.  Soon, however, even the portable could not care for the increased enrollment.  Rather than go into half-day sessions, one classroom was installed upstairs in the hall, and later, another in the front entrance in the downstairs hall.

In view of the need for added classroom facilities in the entire district, a Citizens' Committee was appointed to study the need for new school buildings and additions to buildings already established.  When this committee visited Fenwick, the need was obvious.  The school board voted in the spring of 1951 to build a seven room addition to the present building and to enlarge the cafeteria at a total cost of $85,000.

Construction began in June 1951 and the newly enlarged cafeteria was opened January 9, 1952, with all new equipment in the kitchen, new chairs, and two teachers' tables for the cafeteria.  A steel fence with two backstops was built surrounding the entire block except for the front entrance.  The breezeway leading to the main building from the cafeteria was closed in.  It was decorated in yellow with a red tile floor.  Window boxes with growing plants were placed in the two small windows and an antique hanging lamp was installed overhead.  It was named the Sunroom because of its bright and cheery appearance.    When the new wing was added in 1998, the Sunroom was extended into a bright new hallway leading to the new wing.   The ribbon cutting ceremony for the 1998 Wing was held in this new hallway.

The seven room addition was formally opened on March 21, 1952.  There is a bronze plaque on the east end of the building commemorating this addition.  The exterior is in cream colored brick to match the first building but with push-out windows.   All windows facing the playground were covered with steel guards.  Also added were a large book room, restroom for the small girls, and a teachers' lounge.   This wing currently houses our 4th grade classrooms, the upstairs computer lab, the 5th grade science lab, the parent volunteer room, student restrooms, the teacher copy room, and our administrative assistant's office.

During the 1966-67 school year, a large hard surface parking lot was completed on the west side of the school, and Classroom #1 was designated as a "library" with a very limited number of books.  Library periods and library instruction were begun for fifth and sixth graders.  This original library is now the current data clerk and counselor' s offices.

In 1970 half-day Kindergarten classes were started in another portable building, which was moved onto the campus.

A full-day Kindergarten program began in 1972, and sixth grades were moved to the middle schools.

One computer found its way into the school curriculum in 1982.  Today we have two fully equipped computer labs, as well as two mobile netbook carts for student use.  Each teacher now has their own computer, laptop, LCD projector and ELMO camera to use for daily instruction.

After almost one year of mazes and noise that began in 1988, taxing the patience of students, teachers, and administration alike, central air conditioning was finally added to the main building and to all of the portables in 1989.   Those in portables no longer had to worry about distractions like soccer balls being kicked into the windows, crayons melting, or papers blowing all over the place.  Workers from the Gillette Air Conditioning Co. had become friends to many.

Portable buildings and slowly found their way onto the Fenwick campus, until the mid 1980's, when they began to blossom.   The last one was opened in the spring of 1994.  Fenwick now had eight portables, the last four having been built on the campus.  There were more students being taught in classes outside the building than inside.

In the spring of 1995 the school board voted to build a new wing on five elementary schools, including Fenwick, to get the children into the main school building and out of the portables.  All eight portables were moved from the west side of the school tot he east side during November and December of 1995. Construction began in early 1996.  The new wing's first classes began moving in one year later, in November, 1996, just one week before Thanksgiving.   Unlike the other wing added in 1952, this new wing looked nothing like the original building.  Its bright colors are childlike, and it looks toward the future.

In the year 1999-2000 a new gym was built.  For the first time since adding physical education classes to the curriculum, students and staff now had a climate controlled building to hold classes.  They were no longer subjected to the outside climate and weather.

In 2002-2004, a new 4 classroom building was added to the campus to house our youngest learners.  The Early Childhood Education building was designed to accommodate children ages 3-5 years old.  It was during this time period that the Pre-Kindergarten program expanded from a half-day program to a full day program.  In 2009-2010, Fenwick added Head Start classes to their ECE offerings.  A new playground, specifically for young children was also added to the campus during that year.

In November 2010, SAISD residents approved an unprecedented bond to improve aging facilities in the district and provide SAISD students with modern schools that will lead us into the future.   At the same time SAISD staff and board members recommended the closure and consolidation of several campuses to improve efficiency.   As part of this initiative, Fenwick Elementary, is currently undergoing an $11.3 million dollar renovation.   This includes the addition of a new wing, complete with new cafeteria, kitchen, stage, art room, music room, science lab, and classrooms.   Classrooms and offices in the main building will be renovated and the current cafeteria will be converted to a new library.   When this is completed, students from nearby Nelson Elementary will be attending Fenwick. 


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