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School History

Students walking into school

Centennial School District purchased the 55-acre Rice Lake Elementary School site from Harold Lehman and Irene and Hugo Jorgenson in 1991. Rice Lake School was opened in the fall of 1992.

Before the land was settled, the wild rice, lakes and large number of animals attracted the Native Americans who camped on the shore of Rice Lake, hunted, fished, and harvested the rice.

The Lehmann property was once owned by the U.S. government before Charles and Maria Lehmann homesteaded about 80 acres in 1877. Charles, a German immigrant, made his living blacksmithing and farming. That farming tradition was carried on by their son, August and his wife, Eva (LaBelle from Centerville). They added 173 acres and raised dairy cattle and cash crops. Harold, their youngest, farmed 40 acres in hay and corn, and raised beef cattle until 1985. He sold 37 acres to the school district, keeping three acres, including the 1893 brick farm house, for himself.

The Jorgenson property was settled by Karl Wenzel, who was 44 when he moved his family from Germany to Rice Lake's west side in 1853. His oldest son, Anton married Henritta Nakerich in 1863. They homesteaded the four acre island and purchased 160 acres south of the lake. In 1885 they deeded land south of the school for Centennial's forerunner, School District 52, and the Rice Lake Methodist Church and Cemetery. They moved on to St. Paul, but oldest daughter, Pauline, stayed in the township and married Albert Rehbein in 1886. After Anton Wenzels' death in 1914, the school land was leased and then purchased in 1923 by Pauline's oldest son, Anton (married to Mary Kuhlmann in 1913). They lived south of the school and continued the truck gardening tradition. Their daughter, Irene, married Hugo Jorgenson in 1949 and homesteaded and farmed the land the school is on until 1987. They sold the district 19 acres on the east side of the school.

The beautiful school site is the result of both Harold Lehman and Irene and Hugo Jorgenson's willingness to have their land serve the greater common good of the community.

The Centennial School Board is extremely grateful for the contribution and cooperation of these community-minded citizens.


Bryan Carlson, 2014 - present
Warren Buerkley, 2008 - 2014 
Dan Kelley, 1992 - 2008

Rice Lake Construction Photos