Our little school on the prairie was approved for construction in 1971, built in 1972 and officially opened in 1973. Overcrowding concerns in the other two elementary buildings caused the school board to bring a special bond referendum to the voters of Sandwich for Prairie View Elementary School and at the same time proposed the construction of the Illinois Valley Vocational Center. In 1971, school officials planned for the new school to house one kindergarten room, and two each of first, second, third, and fourth grades. Also included was a classroom to serve special needs students, a teachers' workroom, all-purpose room, restrooms, storage space and the heating facilities. The cost of this endeavor: $372,213.64, a bargain by today's standards!
The original structure was designed with neither a front nor back, portable walls and the capacity for expansion. In 1993, building expansion became a reality and the north wing which included six new classrooms was added. The initial entrance to the school was now enclosed. Extra space was added to the multipurpose room in 1999. Back in 1971, it was projected that approximately 250 students would attend Prairie View annually.
Today, Prairie View is one of six schools in the Sandwich Consolidated Unit District #430. It continues to operate as a neighborhood school with three each of kindergarten, first, second, and third grades, an Early Childhood classroom, an intervention/bilingual room, a reading intervention/social work/nurse area, and two portable classrooms providing space for music, developmental therapies, and a conference area. Our media center is, of course, a library, but has also been the site of a castle, pirate ship, teepee, and even was home to a regulation-sized covered wagon! As the population of Sandwich increased, new homes began to replace the prairie surroundings. In keeping with our namesake, the property east of the school is an authentic, Illinois prairie providing many hours of insect and prairie plant exploration for our young learners.
Throughout its thirty-eight year history, Prairie View has been fortunate to have dedicated, first rate faculty, staff and administration. The parent organization has contributed to the success of the school through countless volunteer hours, numerous fundraisers, and various projects that enhances the learning environment. Parent support for their children, education, and the school has been exceptional.