History of Prairie du Rocher School



Prairie du Rocher CCSD #134 is a very unique small rural school district that serves approximately 180 students in grades Pre-K through eighth grade. There is a very rich French history stretching back to the mid 1700's and the construction of Fort de Charters which is located between the Illinois bluff and the Mississippi River about 30 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri. The community is very involved in their student's education with an active Parent Teacher Organization. A local resident by the name of Dr. Margaret Brown has written a book about the history of the region dating back to the 1500's. She is an anthropologist that is currently working on a dig that is taking place next to the local cemetery. She was also the Director of the Cahokia Mounds State Park. The community is also poised for growth after surviving the flood of 1993 and has been removed from the flood plain by FEMA as a result of a heightened levee system.

Education started at Prairie du Rocher about 300 years ago when the first Jesuit missionary explorers arrived from France via the Mississippi River to teach the Indians about Christianity. In later years, the King of France set aside “Commons Land” for the support of education provided by the church. As history made the feudal function of the commons land obsolete, the property was sold, and a fund of about $50,000.00 was established under the control of an elected board, which still functions to this day. Interest earnings of the fund are made available by the Commons Board to the public school each year.

In years past there were three separate schools in the town of Prairie du Rocher, a parochial school, a school for the Negroes, and a public school. The black school closed when the younger Negroes migrated. About 50 years ago, the parochial school was serving the entire town’s educational needs. Since the entire town was served by one school, plans were made by the people to establish a public school in a rented church owned building with an elected school board. Students desiring religious education were given time before their public school day started. Presently the school consists of rooms leased from St. Joseph Church and a public building built in 1970. The gymnasium was built in 1957.