Amos McDannel Elementary School
Amos McDannel School was constructed in 1955 and more than 650 people toured the new building at the first Open House on November 14, 1955. The school was named in honor of Mr. Amos McDannel, who taught in Canton Township for 48 years, and passed away in 1954, one year prior to the building construction. At the dedication service on January 22, 1958, Mr. Amos McDannel was honored as a man who was loyal to his fellow man and God, exemplified by his concern and compassion for children. Interestingly, one of his first students, Charles Firestone, served as the architect for construction.
The new $500,000.00 elementary school opened on September 7, 1955. The 16-classroom building was on a 14-acre site on 38th Street SE. Mr. Harold R. Walker was named principal of the new school, which had an enrollment of approximately 325 students. The building was designed to hold up to 500 students.
Mrs. Ida McDannel, wife of Amos McDannel, continued to inspire and serve students and educators in the district after the construction of the school. She had near perfect attendance for visiting on days of special PTA and holiday programs at the school. Children’s eyes filled with love and respect for the woman who cared so much for them. Pictures of Amos and Ida McDannel hung in the main hallway of the school as a reminder of their dedication and love to the children who attended Amos McDannel School. Throughout the years, the showcase in the main hallway was dedicated to Amos and Ida, to help the students understand their significance and importance to the history of the building.
School colors selected for Amos McDannel were scarlet and white. Following a vigorous student campaign, “Setters” was chosen as the name for the school teams and the Irish-Setter became the mascot. In later years, the mascot was changed to the Wildcat.
Nine principals served Amos McDannel School in the 55 years of its operation:
1955-1956 Mr. Harold Walker
1956-1959 Mr. Howard Netzley
1959-1960 Mr. William Kannam
1960-1961 Mr. Sam Leles
1961-1967 Mr. Dwain Sheffer
1967-1993 Mr. Paul Davidson
1993-2002 Mr. Michael Capitena
2002-2008 Mrs. Carol Hepler Young
2008-2010 Mrs. DaNita Berry
Only three secretaries served the school throughout the tenure of Amos McDannel School, Janice Plaskett, Doris Baker, and Donna Brothers.
Visitors often commented about the welcoming atmosphere of the building. The open lobby window area was always decorated for the season displaying back to school, Christmas, or spring motifs. Bright and cheery bulletin boards were maintained by the volunteers of the PTA who graciously gave their time and talents to showcase the talents of students. The building was always well maintained with an inviting atmosphere.
The PTA, an integral part of the school, originated on October 13, 1955, with 110 people in attendance. Dinners and fundraisers were held to help purchase playground equipment, books, and equipment needed for the school. Throughout the years many dedicated individuals served on the PTA to offer students opportunities to expand their learning as well as to improve the playground and classrooms. In 1999, parents, staff, and local businesses raised $46,700 to build a much-needed addition to the school library. Excitement was on the faces of students as they enjoyed the extra room that was provided to them with the expansion. The PTA always made Teacher Appreciation Week special for the staff. Appreciation for their work was recognized in multiple ways during this week including lunches and treats for every person who worked at the school.
Special memories include service projects such as the Fifth-Grade Service Club, the Giving Tree Project, and food drives to help area families. Musical programs were a gift to the community as students shared their talents as singers, dancers, and musicians. The love of music and the arts was instilled in students by both teachers and support staff. Other student activities were the Secret Santa Shop, Accelerated Reading and shopping at the AR cart. The bookstore was a student-lead activity where third graders sold school supplies on designated mornings. Another popular event was third grade Prime Time Friday Night where students spent the night at the school reading, doing activities, enjoying food, and spending the night in sleeping bags on the floor in the gymnasium. Favorite last day of school events were the outdoor carnival and track and field day.
Fifth grade students always looked forward to the opportunity to play intramural basketball in the winter months. Teams were formed and tournaments were held to determine which team would be the champion for the year. Another favorite activity for fifth graders added in later years was a three day, two night, Outdoor Education Camp. Fifth graders also had opportunity to participate on the Fifth-Grade Math Team, which competed against other fifth grade students in the area.
Students at Amos McDannel were taught to recognize and understand the importance of good character. Students were honored for their efforts by the staff, Lions Club “Good Program” and Canton South Rotary “Student of the Year”. Amos students were held to high educational expectations. Throughout the years, staff was dedicated to ensure students acquired skills to become successful adults.
Parents and grandparents were recognized as being important people in the lives of students. They were invited to school to celebrate student birthdays and Grandparents Day. Parents were honored with Mother/Child and Father/Child breakfasts served by staff.
Throughout the years, enrollment decreased in Canton Local. In efforts to cut costs for the school district, reorganization efforts were made. Starting with the 2006 school year, Amos McDannel became a grades 1 and 2 building. Students in Canton Local in grades 3-5 attended either Prairie College or Harold R. Walker Schools. At the end of the 2010 school year, the doors to Amos McDannel School were closed. All elementary students in the district were then assigned to attend Harold R. Walker Elementary in Canton Local. The Amos McDannel building was sold to the Canton Township Fire Department and now serves as the Canton Township Community Center.