Nipher’s Historical High School Story

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MORGAN BARTHELMASS

Maybe you attend Nipher or you know someone who does, but most likely you don’t know about Nipher’s crazy history. When was it built? Why was it built? Who was it built for?
According to ​Kirkwoodschools.org ​, Nipher was built in 1921 and officially opened to students in September of 1922. But Nipher wasn’t built as Kirkwood’s new middle school. Nipher was built as the Kirkwood School District’s new high school.
Before this new high school was constructed, secondary students or grades 10-12 went to school along with elementary students. This four room brick school was one of four Kirkwood School District buildings at the time and was constructed in 1869 and located at Adams and Jefferson. Very soon after Kirkwood High School was built on Kirkwood Road, a separate building was built next to the high school for seventh and eighth graders in a junior high school.
How did Nipher get its name? It’s a tradition to name public schools after outstanding citizens. The board of education in Kirkwood chose the name Nipher after Dr. Francis E. Nipher, an educator and professor at Washington University in St. Louis. And this is how our “Nipher Knight” Francis came to be.
The building that is now Nipher was Kirkwood High School until 1954 when grades 10-12 moved to their new location on Essex. In 1976, Kirkwood reorganized their school district and Nipher Junior High became Nipher Middle School to hold grades 6-8, and ninth grade joined the high school student body.
Since that time, Nipher Middle School has grown through a few new additions like the library and science wings.