History of Robert Mitchell Elementary and Jacks Carnival
The Original Robert Mitchell
Sparks Grammar and High School, Sparks, NV. The three-story school pictured was built in 1904. In 1906, Robert H. Mitchell was hired as principal. The Sparks School Board of Trustees presented him with a small pistol saying, “It goes with the job.” On January 15, 1925, the school was dedicated to Robert H. Mitchell and renamed Robert Mitchell Elementary School in his honor. The building was deemed unsafe and demolished in 1937.
Robert Mitchell Elementary School, Sparks, NVA version close to our current building was built to replace the condemned original three-story Robert Mitchell School which housed grades K-12 in Sparks. The new school was built in 1938 at the same location as the original on Prater Way as a grade school. The new school was built with a slate roof and an auditorium with a slanted floor. During construction, students were housed in different sites around the city. The school is still used today and houses kindergarten through sixth grade. It is the only grade school in Sparks that has an actual auditorium.Jack's Carnival
Jack’s Carnival was first organized in the late fall of 1924. Miss Mary Lukens, a 2nd grade teacher at Kate Smith School, had read in a teaching publication titled “The Normal Instructor” that an annual “Jacks Carnival” was a successful means to raise money for funding extra-curricular activities, furnish milk for children and supplement food, clothing, and fuel for needy children and their families. Miss Lukens, Mrs. Lena Juniper and Mrs. Ruby Spoon brought the idea to the P.T.A and it was organized as a community event.
At the time, the Sparks School District consisted of three elementary schools - Robert H. Mitchell, Mary Lee Nichols and Kate Smith – and Sparks Junior High and Sparks High School. All schools decided to take part in Jack’s Carnival thereby reducing the number of individual efforts for fundraising.
Originally, Jacks Carnival carried out the theme representing “Jacks” from Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.The original Jack’s Carnival Parade of costumed children was held on a Friday afternoon in late September. Jacks Carnival was held the following day at Sparks High School with admission being ten cents for adults and five cents for children.
Individual booths were set up around the theme such as Little Jack Horner, a pie booth: Jack Frost, ice cream; Jack and Jill, apple cider booth; Queen of Hearts, cake booth; Jack-a-Dandy candy booth and Jack Straws soft drinks. A spaghetti feed was provided by the middle school students and vaudeville skits were provided by the high school students.
Over the years, as Sparks grew, more and more schools joined in Jack’s Carnival every fall. Each year, representatives from the schools would meet to decide on a theme then choose which carnival booths and activities their schools would provide. Proceeds from the events were divided among the participating schools.
Since the turn of the century, the number of schools able to participate has fluctuated. Jack’s Carnival is currently being hosted by Robert Mitchell Elementary School and its friends.