A history of the Yankton School District can’t really be written apart from that of the Yankton community. A close connection between community and school has been maintained throughout the life of the district.
Life in Yankton has always revolved around the Missouri River. Native Americans followed the river’s flow to their destinations centuries ago. They named the land “E-Hank-Ton-Wan” meaning “people of the end village.” Yankton is rich in history and a city of firsts. It was the first capital of the Dakota Territory, which in the 1860s included both Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana.
Our story as a district began on February 2, 1875, with an act of the legislature that created the Yankton Board of Education. Yankton High School became the first high school in Dakota Territory. The first college followed soon after.
Yankton is also fortunate to have a leading medical center, which began when the Benedictine sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery arrived in 1887. Besides the monastery, the nuns have given Yankton a stunning chapel, a four-year college, a regional medical center, and an assisted living and senior care complex.
As the community has grown, Yankton has become a center for music, art, and theatre. The Missouri River is still the soul of Yankton. Families gather there in every season, for boating, fishing, strolling, picnicking, baseball, concerts, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
Evolution of a District
From its inception in 1875, the Yankton School District has grown to include six school buildings and an alternative learning center. Four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and the alternative learning center (9-12) serve a population of roughly 18,000 people and an area of 210 square miles—all of which is located in Yankton County.
These facilities have evolved with the times. One of the most notable, and progressive, facility upgrades was yet another evidence of the close relationship between school and community in Yankton. In 1996, construction of the shared Yankton High School/Summit Activities Center was completed.
The district educational program has evolved as well. Technology is now thoroughly integrated into both classroom and curriculum. For instance:
- A 2.5 to 1 student-to-computer ratio throughout the system
- We offer the CISCO Network Academy, which prepares students for well-paying IT careers following graduation
- Educational modules in Family and Consumer Science and Vocational Tech offered on computer
- Web-based alternative learning opportunities
- SMART boards are a part of all core classes at the elementary and middle school levels and more than 60% of high school core classes
District students can take advantage of an array of advanced placement opportunities, many leading to dual high school and college credit.
In addition to technical career opportunities and the college preparatory track, we work closely with local manufacturers to provide opportunities for students in the machining and welding areas of our vocational training program. Students in our building trades program construct, and sell, a house each year.
Plenty of opportunities exist for learning outside of the classroom as well. With strong theater, music, oral interpretation, debate, art, and athletic programs, Yankton School District encourages the development of all the gifts our students possess.