150 years of history, learning

THE ORIGINAL Westminster School (Jerry Howard).

The telephone hadn’t been invented; there were just 46 states and the automobile was still a generation into the future when the pioneers who founded the Presbyterian colony of Westminster in the Santa Ana Valley in 1870 established a local public school district.

It was 1872 when that happened, and now the WSD is observing its 150th anniversary on Thursday at the district offices, 14121 Cedarwood St., Westminster at 5 p.m.

The WSD, now with an enrollment of about 10,000, is one of the oldest school systems in Orange County and is the oldest public district operating under the same name as it had when founded.

Other “old” school operations whose origins go back over 100 years include  Anaheim (1867), Garden Grove (1875), Fullerton (1888), Huntington Beach (1906), Orange (1879), Santa Ana (1878).

Throughout its history, the district has grown from one wooden building into a system with 17 schools that serves most of Westminster as well as campuses in Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Midway City.

The WSD was involved in the 1946 historic Mendez vs. Westminster decision in which the practice of segregating children of Mexican ancestry into separate schools was ruled unconstitutional. The lawsuit that led to the ruling also involved the Garden Grove, El Modena and Santa Ana districts as well.

Mendez vs. Westminster was a precedent cited in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning segregation based on race in public schools across the U.S.


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