LAYTON — Ruby Price believes that Verdeland Park Elementary School deserves a historical marker due to the significant role the school played in the county.
Officials agree with Price, who once taught at the school, that the former school, along with the entire Verdeland Park military housing development that opened in 1943, is deserving of a marker. But they recognize that getting such a marker in place involves a process.
The housing complex and the school once stood in the 400 North block of Wasatch Drive, now the site of the Layton City Hall and Layton Commons Park.
The 96-year-old Price, who taught at the school, said she just wants to see Verdeland Park Elementary memorialized.
Price is believed to be the state’s first African-American school teacher, beginning in 1950 in Brigham City. After taking several years off to raise her young children, she was asked by the Davis School District to teach an integrated first-grade class at Verdeland Park Elementary in August 1963.
“I was to teach a combination class of first- and second-grade students that were having a hard time with learning disabilities, low self-esteem, bashful, ” Price said.
At the time, Steven Whitesides was serving as principal at Verdeland Park Elementary. A Layton elementary school is named in Whitesides’ honor. But Price says there is nothing dedicated to Verdeland Park Elementary.
The Davis School District has not been formally approached by Price. But it is unlikely the district would participate in placing such a marker because then they would have to do it for all the other retired schools, said Shauna Lund, the district community relations specialist.
There is a marker on the Layton Elementary School property recognizing it as the first school in the city.
That marker was placed by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Lund said, and outside of the district giving the group permission and school officials attending the ceremony, the district was not involved with the project.
Because of the time period when Verdeland Park Elementary was in operation, the district has little documentation on the school, with the exception of some old photos taken during the 1950s, Lund said.
Verdeland Park Elementary, part of the larger Verdeland Park military housing development which once stood where Layton Commons Park now sits, is where children of those working at Hill Air Force Base and the Naval Supply Depot in Clearfield attended school, said Bill Sander, curator of the Heritage Museum of Layton.
The school stood from 1943 to the mid-1970s, with Layton city buying the property sometime in the late 1960s, Sanders said.
There is no physical marker in Layton Commons Park dedicated to Verdeland Park or the elementary school that was part of the complex, Sanders said. But the museum has presented exhibits on Verdeland Park, and should a marker be erected, it ought to be dedicated to all of the Verdeland Park military housing complex as well, he said.
“It is something that can be addressed,” Mayor Steve Curtis said of placing having a marker, saying there is historical value in doing so.
Verdeland Park, in serving military families during and after World War II, played a significant role in the county’s history, Curtis said.
“We just have to make sure criteria is met as to whether a marker should be placed.”