Mark Twain Elementary School opened in 1956. After 40 years of serving thousands of students, the school needed a renovation. Wear and tear was apparent and the outside hallways and classroom entrances were exposed to inclement weather. In 1996, Pasco voters told the district to remodel the school and equip it for current and future educational needs. During the 15-month rebuild, Twain students and staff set up a temporary school in the “old” Emerson building. Twain was rededicated on November 30, 1999, precisely 43 years after the school’s initial dedication and 164 years after the birth of author Mark Twain, the school’s namesake.
Mark Twain, of course, was the pen name of Samuel L. Clemens, considered by many to be the father of American literature. Twain is best known for his stories of the Deep South with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Ever the advocate for teachers, Twain once said, “It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teacher others.” Twain’s portrait remains prominent in the school’s main hallway.
Interestingly, ‘mark twain’ is actually a river term indicating a depth of two fathoms, with a fathom being just shy of two meters. In Twain’s time, this was a safe depth for paddleboats under way and given Twain’s youthful fascination with life on the river, this is the nom de plume he chose for himself.
Starting with the 2011-12 school year, Valerie Aragon will be Twain’s new principal.
Former Twain principals include Jody Hughes, Elaine Banks, Willie Stone, Calaine Bacon, Emilia Jason, Dianna Veleke and Jody Hughes.
Photo left: Twain Elementary recently held Frontier Days where students learned about pioneers, the Old West and Native American history. Assistant Principal and occasional Sheriff Chad Haertling stands tall with two Twain students.