Central Elementary School students celebrated the 70th anniversary of the opening of Tracy Unified School District’s oldest elementary school in 2008.
The history of Central School, going back to 1938, was told in PowerPoint presentations and remembrances by guest speakers — including past principals George Kelly and Jon Fine — at two assemblies, one for kindergartners through second-graders at 8:30 a.m. and a second for third- through-fifth graders at 9 a.m.
Special displays showing historical photos and articles about Central’s historywere posted in the school’s corridors.
"We want our students to get a feeling for the long history of their school," said Nancy Link, Central’s principal. "Central has a great history, stemming from the original school on Central Avenue, through the years since the present school was opened in October 1938."
The first Central School, originally called Tracy School, was opened in 1912 to replace Willow School, Tracy’s original elementary school built in 1867 at the corner of 11th Street and Corral Hollow Road. A larger version of the original Willow School was built at the corner of 11th Street and Central Avenue, where Tracy School was constructed.
In 1926, when plans were being made to construct the Tracy Inn on that corner, the school district sold a portion of the school playground to the hotel corporation for $27,500. A portion of that money was set aside to help finance construction of a new school on one of two sites purchased from a previously approved bond issue.
In 1938, the site at the corner of Parker and Eaton avenues was selected for the new Central School, and in March of that year a contract was awarded to a local contractor, G.A. Tornell, to build the new school at a total cost of $51,489.60, financed by bonds and available funds.
The school, which included six classrooms, an auditorium-lunch room, teachers’ room and office, was scheduled to be completed by the start of the 1938-39 school year in September, but a delay in construction pushed the opening date back to Oct. 9, 1938.
Dedication ceremonies were conducted by the Native Sons of the Golden West.
In succeeding years, additional classrooms and a multipurpose room were been added for the school, with a current enrollment of 465 students.
In 2019, brand new buildings were constructed in the open lot adjacent to Central School and the former building was demolished. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on May 13, 2019.