The site where Ruppenthal Middle School stands is the site of the first permanent school in Russell, KS. This school was a two-story limestone building built in 1874 and in it were taught grades 1 through 12, usually by two teachers whose salaries were sometimes as low as thirty-five dollars a month. Prior to the construction of this building, school was held in a frame building in the 900 block of Main street and in church basements.
After the organization of School District #5 in 1873, the patrons voted a $5000 bond to build the Fifth Street School. It sat north and west of the current building. It was the only school in Russell until 1889 when two wooden buildings were constructed on the north and south side of the railroad tracks. These were to serve as elementary schools, and were later replaced by stone buildings, and still later in 1951 and 1952 by brick buildings.
The first high school class to graduate from this twelve-year school, which had only two teachers most years, was the class of 1886.
In 1916, the patrons of School District #5 authorized the construction of a new high school which later became known as Courtside. Upon completion of the new high school, the Fifth Street School was razed. This building served as Russell High School for some twenty years. By the 1930's, it became evident that the city was continuing to grow and so was the school population. Talk of a new high school building began in 1935, and in May of that year the school board authorized the drawing of plans for a new high school building. The board and the community approved the plans and with the cooperation of the newly created Federal Works Administration, the project was underway. The new building opened for school on January 3, 1938. The old high school which became known as Courtside had been used for the expansion of elementary grades when Simpson and Bickerdyke became overcrowded.The bas-relief sculpture over the front doors on the east side of the new building was done by a Russell High School graduate, F. R. Wentworth.
As student population grew and educational requirements and philosophy changed, the need for a new high school was perceived. After an unsuccessful attempt to pass a bond issue, plans for the new building were scaled down, and in 1959, the contract to build a new high school was awarded.
The move to the new high school in 1961 allowed the conversion of the limestone building on Elm Street into a junior high school while Courtside was to be used for new state mandated programs and expansion of grade schools.
By 1971, the education of junior high students had undergone a philosophical change. Under the leadership of Bert Hitchcock, Russell Junior High School became Ruppenthal Middle School, so named to honor Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, long time Russell resident and judge.
In 1990, Courtside school was condemned and during that summer was demolished. A contract to build a four-classroom addition with a cafeteria was awarded in the fall of 1992 and, ground for the addition was broken in September of 1992. The new addition was primarily for 6th grade students and. Teachers and students moved into the new addition in the fall of 1993.
Ruppenthal Before Tinted Windows were installed
Since 1993, the older section of Ruppenthal has undergone some structural changes. All the old windows were replaced with new tinted and energy saving windows. Several classrooms now have window air conditioners to alleviate some of the heat during the hottest months of the year. Ruppenthal After Tinted Windows were installed.
Ruppenthal After Tinted Windows were installed
The old cafeteria moved to the new wing and was replaced with a computer lab. The woodworking room was replaced in 2001 with a state of the art technology lab. The gymnasium seats were given a face lift and replaced with red and blue aluminum covers and sound absorbing acoustical tiles were added to the ceiling.