A Rich History in a Beautiful Community
Woodrow Wilson Elementary was built in 1938 nestled in the tight-knit community of South Colton. This school has served a proud Chicano community that has overcome adversity in many ways including segregation. More than 20 years before construction began, the citizens of South Colton unionized and successfully protested against worker discrimination (nps.gov). Chicano-owned businesses and organizations became a necessity because citizens were segregated from resources, facilities, and funding. Businesses like theaters, sports complexes, grocery stores, and community halls made South Colton a "city within a city." Graduation ceremonies were held by local families, the Saldaña's in particular, and annual Fiestas Patrias were held in the heart of South Colton. Although discrimination is a dark spot in the beautiful tapestry of South Colton, the citizens created a community built on family, culture, and perseverance.
At its conception, Woodrow Wilson, named after the 28th President, was a junior high school that served 5th-8th grades. Wilson Jr. High was combined with another school, Garfield School (pictured). Garfield School was a primary school that served Kinder-4th grade. Both schools were segregated from the white community in North Colton until the 1953-1954 school year (iecn.com). Shortly after, Garfield School was demolished and Wilson Elementary became a K-6 school. Woodrow Wilson Elementary School is a registered landmark in the City of Colton and is one of three landmarks in South Colton. The other official Colton landmarks in South Colton are the Fountain at the corner of O St. and La Cadena and the Agua Mansa Cemetary on Agua Mansa Road.
In 1978, for the 40th year celebration, a school competition was held where students were tasked with drawing something that represented the history of Colton. The student winners of that competition were able to paint their drawings in the hallways of the original school building. To this day, those murals still color the original school building halls. As time goes on, former students call the school asking to have a picture of a specific mural sent to them. It's a great feeling knowing that Wilson Elementary is a living time capsule for the community.