Behind the Victory Flagpole – The man and the school

A long time ago there was a much admired man living in this area and his name was Floyd Bjornsterne Olson. He was born of immigrant Norwegian and Swedish parents, growing up on our Northside, attending Logan and Grant schools, and graduating from North High in 1909. He then worked in North Dakota for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Later he attended the University of Minnesota for a year. The next three years he worked around this country, and Canada and the gold fields of Juneau, Alaska, seeking fortune but gaining much knowledge. In 1914 he enrolled at the Northwestern College of Law, graduating in 1915 as Valedictorian. Floyd was admitted to the bar the same year. He read extensively and acquired great understanding in many fields.

In 1918 he married Miss Ada A. Krejci and they had one child, Patricia. In 1919 he was appointed special assistant to the Hennepin County Attorney, serving that office as County Attorney until 1930. Also in that year he was elected Governor of Minnesota on the Farmer­-Labor Party ticket, following the personal and economic disasters of the 1929 stock market crash. He provided great leadership in administration and politics with concern and compassion for the needs of all people. This great champion of the people met an untimely death in 1936, at the age of 44. There were many honors accorded this man, but two were the naming of a highway after him and naming a school after him.

The school was to be a ‘junior high’ and the reason it was built was because of the overcrowding of another school. Patrick Henry High School Principal A. B. Shultz had explained in 1957 that his school had an enrollment of 1800, but already had 1888 pupils. He said they would be facing a crisis by 1960, so concerned citizens in the area formed a committee to plan for a ‘junior high school.’

On May 5, 1957 the Minneapolis School Board approved use of $165,000 from the school general fund to purchase land bounded by Knox, Irving, 50th and 52nd Avenues for the site of a school to be named the Floyd B. Olson Junior High.

On Friday, April 14, 1961, earth was to be turned to start the new school. Unfortunately, inclement weather occurred on that day with a mid-April blizzard that caused the colorful ground-breaking ceremony to be moved inside. The whole affair, including the Henry High School Band, was moved inside the Shingle Creek School auditorium.

The Olson Jr. High was then erected in 1962, as a three-story brick, concrete and steel structure. It was located on a seven-acre site adjacent to Shingle Creek Park. Enrollment was 531. The dedication was on Sunday, January 27, 1963 with many important dignitaries attending, including the mayor of Minneapolis. The first principal of the school was to be Glen C. Davis beginning the 1962-63 school year. He taught science and biology at Patrick Henry in 1951 and became assistant principal there. In 1955 he was appointed principal at Franklin Jr. High. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could fill his new position. His place was filled with Mr. Cooksey, Jefferson Jr. High School’s assistant principal.

The school was a fitting memorial to a man who rose from humble beginnings to great things. His influence became a significant part of the history of our Camden Community and Minnesota.