Historically, the area that encompasses the present Shawnee Height District 450 included the elementary attendance centers of Richland, Berryton and Tecumseh. The Tecumseh students attended Highland Park Rural High School. These rural communities found themselves caught in the trend of suburban movement of the 1950s.
In 1960 Highland Park High School was annexed into the City of Topeka which created a need for a high school attendance center for the Tecumseh students. For two years these students were transported to Highland Park. A three member board was formed to investigate the feasibility of a high school for this area, and a citizens’ committee of eight was appointed to study the ramifications of constructing such a school. In June 1960, the committee outlined the need for the school and recommended that it be a joint venture between Tecumseh (old District No. 10) and Berryton-Richland (old District No. 1). The two communities consolidated, and a decision was made to build the new high school on the 47 acres of purchased land. A principal was hired to help with the planning, and in 1962 Shawnee Heights High School (named as the result of a contest between eighth grade students of the three attendance centers) was opened. Enrollment the first year was 260 students in the building constructed to accommodate 400 students.
As housing interest moved eastward from Topeka, school enrollment grew quickly, and additional acreage was purchased for new buildings. In 1970 a new junior high school was built for grades 7-9. In 1979 another new building was added. At the present time grades 7-8 are housed in the original high school grades 9-10 in the 1970 building and grades 11-12 in the 1979 building. The three buildings lie in a triangle on the corner of 45th Street and Shawnee Heights Road.
Shawnee Heights USD #450 encompasses 140 square miles and located between two major cities in eastern Kansas; Topeka and Lawrence. The District is headquartered in Shawnee County, approximately nine miles southeast of downtown Topeka, Kansas. The current estimated population of the District is 18,000. The total enrollment for the 2016-17 school year is 3,531.
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