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Parrish Middle School
 
Parrish Middle School was built at Capitol Street NE, in a cluster of oak trees called “Parrish Grove”, on what had been the donation land claim of pioneer Josiah L. Parrish. Reverend Parrish was a missionary who came to Oregon with Jason Lee in 1840. In 1854 he was appointed an Indian agent. Reverend Parrish also was a circuit riding preacher in the Willamette Valley and chaplain at the state prison. He is credited with donating much land, time and money to the cause of education in the early years of Salem’s history. He died in 1895 and is buried in Jason Lee Cemetery.

In March, 1923, a $500,000 bond issue was approved to add to and update the overcrowded Salem schools. Later that year, the Salem Chamber of Commerce strongly supported adding another $225,000 to the bond issue to build a junior high school. At this time, junior high classes were being held in the old Washington School, which was located at Center and 12th Streets NE, with other junior high classes being held at McKinley School located in South Salem. The Chamber of Commerce fully supported adding the extra $225,000 to build a junior high school and Dr. H. H. Olinger, head of the school board, said that the situation was “intolerable and getting worse” and encouraged voters to approve the extra funding. In November, 1923, voters heard Dr. Olinger's appeal, and approved the bond issue that included money for construction of a new junior high school. Students originally voted to name the new junior high school Harding School, after President Harding, but the school board chose to name the school after pioneer, Reverend Josiah L. Parrish.

When Parrish Junior High School opened on September 29, 1924 there were 793 students in grades seven through nine. The first principal of Parrish was Mr. H. F. Durham, who along with his staff, moved to Parrish School from Washington School which was eventually torn down. In 1951, Safeway built their first Salem grocery store on this site, at Center and 12th Streets NE.

In 1999, Parrish Middle School celebrated it’s 75th anniversary. The auditorium where the anniversary ceremonies were held was built in 1948, along with a gymnasium and other school spaces. In 1979, under the guidance of then principal, the late Darrell Crossler, Parrish Junior High School became Parrish Middle School. In the late 1990's, the building was completely remodeled and updated. Through the years, about 60,000 students have attended Parrish.

The building and the Salem community are fiercely proud of its heritage and history. Currently, Parrish Middle School has a staff of 60, with grades 6 through 8 and an enrollment of 549 students. The principal is Mr. Michael Johnson, and the assistant principal is Ms. Shari Burgess. Parrish Middle School’s nickname is the “Pioneers.”

 

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