School House

The Northside School building survived the 1909 storm, which wiped out many buildings in the area, with minimal damage.

Bestowed on the three schools devoted to the education of El Campo’s youngest students, the names Hutchins, Myatt and Northside have been a part of generations of students’ lives, even if the history behind the monikers has faded.

Hutchins Elementary was built in 1959 and named after Louise Kelley Hutchins. Hutchins supported handicapped children’s education and made numerous donations to institutions including Wharton County Junior College.

Hutchins’ contributions were often undisclosed except to a few people. Initially, she didn’t believe the school should be named after her, according to former ECISD Superintendent George Thigpen’s account in “Gem of the Prairies: A History of the El Campo Independent School District.”

“She was unwilling at first to accept this public acknowledgment of her support; however, we were finally able to convince her of the appropriateness,” Thigpen said.

All accounts describe Hutchins as kind and philanthropic. In an article titled “a biography of Louise Hutchins,” Ann Wheeler Raun recounts Hutchins had an active role in the “civic and social worlds” of El Campo.

“It is fitting that this school should be named for Louise Hutchins,” Raun said. “It is hoped that in the future, young readers here will catch a glimpse of her and reflect in their lives the largeness of her spirit.”

Myatt Elementary was built in 1986, and is named for Jess Myatt and his wife, on whose land the school was built.

The Myatts sold about 55 acres of land north of El Campo High School, which was used for an area vocational school, two elementary schools and a school for handicapped students.

Jess Myatt was a great friend of the school district, Thigpen said.

Northside Elementary’s namesake is less mysterious in origin than the other two schools, as it is named after its geographic location. The old Northside campus was eventually converted into the Northside Education Center, and the current campus opened in 1988.

Northside’s defunct counterpart, Southside Elementary, was sold to the Blessing Cup Storehouse in 1988 and converted into a location for community service programs, according to “Gem of the Prairies.”

From a small wooden building devoted to the education of seven children to the multi-campus district of modern day, El Campo schools progressed substantially in the last 124 years. As the district continues to evolve, the El Campo ISD school board will consider renaming Northside Elementary for a local Medal of Honor recipient, the late U.S. Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, on Nov. 19.

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