Yosemite National Park Valley School


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The first public school in Yosemite Valley was organized by J.A. Chestnutwood over 141 years ago in July 1875. For the first week the students sat on a fallen log and on boxes under a large oak tree. There were no books at first, and the teacher wrote words for the lessons on a packing crate! The site was about a mile from Yosemite Falls, probably close to Indian Canyon.

This "fresh air" school was soon replaced by a 12 by 16 foot cloth structure with cedar uprights. A new building was then constructed on the south side of the Merced River, upstream from Sentinel Bridge. In 1910 the school moved to a site about 300 yards southwest of the National Park Service Headquarters. By 1918 there was yet another site, this one being close to our present location. The current building was completed in February 1956. Its most recent renovation took place during the summer of 1996. 

The school has been called many things over the years. In the year 2000, its name was formally changed to Yosemite National Park Valley School to distinguish it from the many, many “Yosemite” schools throughout California and officially designate its sole purpose for existence: to serve the children of Yosemite National Park employees.