September 7

Elementary Schools in Solvang

Education was at the core of the founders’ plans for Solvang. Yet you might be surprised to learn the first school in the area, the Ynez School, was established more than 20 years before the 1911 start of the Danish-American colony of Solvang.

The day after Labor Day marks the traditional start of the new school year.  Today we celebrate all students and educators and share some history of elementary schools in Solvang.

The new Ynez School, 1915. The old school was moved to the back of the property and relegated to being a woodshed and outhouse.

In 1890, portions of the Ballard and Nojoqui School Districts were set aside to form an official school district called “Ynez School.” Early-day olive grower Frank Selby offered the studio adjoining his house on Duff Mesa (present day Village Collection residential area) for school room purposes for the few pupils who would attend. Some years later a one-room school was built under an oak tree on present day Alisal Road. The first term of the school year was held at this school with the second term at the top of Refugio Pass.

In 1905 a new one-room school was built near the corner of present-day Mission Drive and Alisal Road. The first Danish child to attend joined eight children from three families in fall of 1911. More Danish children quickly followed and the little Ynez school house was no longer adequate. A new two-room Ynez School was erected in 1915 at the same location.

Solvang School 3rd and 4th grades students,1938. The fathers of 2020 Solvang School teachers Mike Hanly and Bruce Pedersen are kneeling next to each other. Can you find them in the photo?

The number of pupils continued to grow and, in 1928, Ynez School became the Solvang School District. A bi-lingual mothers’ club, affiliated with the Solvang Grammar School Club, was organized to assist Danish speaking mothers with learning English to parallel what their children were learning in school. By 1932 school enrollment had reached 32 and another classroom and a teacher were added.

The new Solvang Elementary School  on Spring Street welcomed students for the first time January 10, 1940.

By 1940, the growing enrollment meant a new school was needed. A new school building with four rooms, a restroom, and an office opened at the corner of Spring Street (present day Atterdag Road), across from Bethania Church. The school, which was similar in architecture to the church, had white walls and a red tile roof. A bell called students to class.

Solvang Elementary School 

Solvang Elementary School has grown over the decades and now occupies two campuses along Atterdag Road. The Lower Campus, which includes the original 1940 building, serves students in transitional kindergarten through fifth grades. Students in grades 6-8 occupy the Upper Campus. Classes include the core subjects along with art, band, robotics, engineering and design, speech and debate, choir, beginning and heritage Spanish, drama, and rock band. A Dual Language Immersion program (English and Spanish) is offered and the Viking Café serves fresh lunch for students and staff using local produce.

Due to COVID-19, the fall 2020 term is distance learning with 26 certified teachers providing education virtually for 613 students.

Solvang School is evidence of the ongoing importance of the founders’ vision that education be the cornerstone of community success.

Stay safe and celebrate students and educators!

Your friends at Elverhøj

Want to learn more about the history of Solvang?
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