History

In 1935, members of the North Randle Highlands Community Citizens’ Association began to advocate for a school in their community.   They requested two temporary wooden structures (called portables) be built to meet the immediate need for a school.  In the spring of 1936, two portables, located at Minnesota Avenue and E Street SE, were available for use. The school was referred to as the North Randle Portable School.

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March 1936 – Portables in North Randle Community near completion. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

The association then turned their attention to advocating for a permanent structure. The fight continued for six years.  During that time the portables became overcrowded as the student population continued to grow as the result of increased development in the community.

Members of the association petitioned the Board of Education, the Budget Bureau and the District Commissioners.  They wrote letters, made resolutions and encouraged the newspapers to write articles about the unsafe conditions in the portables.  The President of the association testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee. Students appealed to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, by writing her an open letter in a community newspaper.

In 1941, land was acquired for the school at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Ely Place.  The Board of Education passed a resolution to name the new school for Dr. Ephraim Gardner Kimball, a former supervising principal [for white schools].

1939 Ephraim Kimball Photo

Dr. Ephraim Gardner Kimball Source: Evening Star

Construction began on the new school in the fall of 1941  The permanent school opened in 1942 as a school for white students.  Miss Dorothy Lewis was principal.

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September 19, 1942 – Kimball Elementary New Completion Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

The new school continued to be overcrowded  and the portables continued to be used. Makeshift classrooms were established in stairwells and storage closets.   Students in the lower grades attended the school in shifts in order to accommodate all the students.  The next year the North Randle Highlands Community Citizens’ Association began to advocate for an addition to the school.  An addition for the school was approved by the Board of Education in 1944.  However, no funds were appropriated.

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Ocotber 1944 – Mrs Irene Branch teaches in a makeshift classroom Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

The principal, teachers, and parents became frustrated about the overcrowded conditions of the school.  Members of the Randle Community Citizens Association begin to petition Congress and the District Communicator to fund the addition for the school. There were numerous delays and problems.

In December 1945, the Kimball Parent-Teacher Association organized a strike. Parents kept their children home from school for one day and picketed the building  to protest the crowded conditions of the school. Four other members of the PTA met with the Assistant Engineer Commissioner to discuss their concerns.

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December 1945 – Parents Picket Outside Kimball Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

The construction of the addition was finally completed in 1949 and was available for use when school started in September 1949. However, due to the increased birth date and the construction of more housing developments in the community, the lower grades continued to be crowded.

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June 29, 1949 – New Addition Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

In 1950, a new junior high school for white students, Sousa Junior High, was built at the intersection of Ely Place and 37th street.  The student body was approximately half the school’s capacity.  Six classes were moved from Kimball to Sousa to alleviate overcrowding at the elementary school. Those classes were referred to as the Kimball Annex.  Use of the Kimball Annexed was discontinued in June of 1960.

The Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in May 1954. The Board of Education adopted a school integration policy and began to desegregate schools at the start of the 1954 school year.  The racial composition of the community began to change as whites moved out and blacks moved in.

The student population continued to grow as more housing developments were built in the area surrounding Kimball.   Once gain the school experienced overcrowding and resorted to using makeshift classroom.

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June 1962 – Miss Martina Hale teaches in the teacher’s lunchroom Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection, Washington Post

A third addition was built on the school in 1966.

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1966 Addition as seen today

The school population began to decline in the 1970s. In 1972, boundary changes resulted in students being transferred to the new Weatherless Elementary. The youth population continued to decline as more families moved from the city. The enrollment count for the 2014-2015 school year was 348.

The school is scheduled to undergo modernization  starting in the summer of 2017 and is scheduled to be completed by the Fall on 2018. During this time classes will be held at a temporary location.