Dieringer School District celebrates 125 years

The one room schoolhouse built on the present day site of the Cascade Water Alliance and former Puget Power generating plant. This school was used until 1908 when the property was purchased by the power company. Students were transported to Sumner for school until the new Dieringer Schoolhouse was completed in 1911.

The Dieringer School District is hosting a quasquicentennial celebration, or in layman terms, its 125 birthday, the evening of Monday, Jan. 25.

The celebration will include a tour of the “old school,” known to older members of the community as the Dieringer Middle School, from 4 to 5 p.m.

Guests will make their way up the hill at 7 p.m. to watch the unveiling of the history wall, a three-panel display of the history and growth of the school district.

The history wall was created with the help of Azure Green Consulting out of Puyallup, which donated time and resources to restore old photos of students and the schools so they can be shown in the permanent installation.

Among the guests at the celebration will be 1940 and 1950 graduates of the Dieringer School District; retired Dieringer Middle School principle Ruggles Larson; former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Judith Billings; and Randy Dorn, the current state superintendent.

A long history

The Dieringer School District is the second-oldest school district in the county, beaten out only by Steilacoom School District, said Pat Keaton, a retired principal from North Tapps Middle School who helped put together the celebration.

The school district was founded in 1890 as the Irvington School District, although that was changed within the first dozen years of its existence. The name Dieringer comes from Joseph Dieringer, a homesteader in the valley at the time.

The first class started on Jan. 3, 1891, in a loaned-out shed until the school building was completed. The first graduating class was five students. Now, the district has grown to be the largest non-high school district in Washington.

Between 1908 and 1911, Dieringer students were transported to the Sumner School District when the original school was sold to Puget Sound Energy, until the Dieringer School was built.

In 1936, the Lake Tapps School District merged with Dieringer because Dieringer School District had more kids at the time.

“Of course, it would have saved decades of confusion, even up until this day, if they had gone with Lake Tapps as its name,” Keaton said, referring to the constant confusion people have between Dieringer School District and Darrington School District.

Kindergarten through eighth graders went to school at the Dieringer School until 1970, when Lake Tapps Elementary was completed.

The Dieringer School was sold to Petersen Brothers Construction, an alum family business, in the ’90s. The company restored the building and had the building placed on the national and state historical registries.