Michigan History

Waterford Schools and their Michigan history connection

While public schools are often named after famous individuals such as presidents, Waterford Michigan named their schools after many important historical figures from Michigan. It is interesting to see why schools are named what they are, and find out who they are honoring for their accomplishments. Six schools that have a Michigan connection to name a few are Knudsen Elementary, Mason Middle School, Pierce Middle School, Mott High School, and Kettering High School. The third Middle School that is no longer part of the district was also named Crary Middle School. This page will tell you who each one of those individuals are, and what their contributions were to Michigan.

Photo by Automobile Magazine

Photo by Automobile Magazine

Knudsen Elementary School

Knudsen Elementary School is named after General William S. Knudsen, who was a military general in charge of wartime manufacturing during World War II. Knudsen migrated from Denmark when he was 20, and eventually worked for the Ford Motor Company. It is said that, “Without Knudsen, the Model T could not have reached its phenomenal position in the automotive industry”. He then left Ford to work for General Motors, where he had great success with the Chevrolet division. Ultimately, he was appointed to the rank of General where he was responsible for contracting the manufacturers who would build tanks, planes, and other wartime vehicles during WWII (Rosentreter, Pg, 301).

Photo from mason today.com

Mason Middle School

Mason Middle School is named after the first Michigan Governor, Stevens T. Mason, otherwise known as the boy Governor. He is largely responsible for Michigan receiving statehood. Mason led the Michiganian’s in the bloodless conflict for the Toledo Strip. Despite not obtaining Toledo, ultimately Michigan benefited more from the compromise by receiving the Western U.P. (Rosentreter, ch. 6).



Pierce Middle School

John D. Pierce, along with his counterpart Isaac E. Crary are considered to be “the fathers of Michigan educated. These two men are responsible for planning Michigan’s public school system. Pierce was also appointed to be the first state superintendent of education in Michigan. There use to be a third middle school in Waterford named Crary Middle School but it closed down in 2010. It has since been remodeled, contains offices, and is now the alternative high school for Waterford School District (Rosentreter, pg. 109).

Kettering High School

Photo taken from Britannica.com

Photo taken from Britannica.com

Kettering High School is named after Charles F. Kettering, an inventor who worked in the automotive industry. His greatest invention is thought to be the electric self-starter for the automobile, which was patented in 1915. Early in his career, he started the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) with another man named Edward Deeds. General Motors eventually bought the company and Kettering was named Vice President and Director of Research at GM. He worked for GM from 1920 to 1947, and is responsible for numerous inventions that drastically improved the automobile. His name was also honored when the General Motor’s Institute, a school for engineering, was renamed to Kettering University (history.com, 2014).

Mott High School

And last but not least, Waterford Mott High School is named after Charles Stuart Mott, was the dean of General Motors directors, and served on the board for 60 years. For 21 years at GM, from 1916 to 1937, he also served as a vice president. It was during this period that Mott hired William Knudsen, who was mentioned earlier. Charles Stuart Mott is also honored in Warren Michigan as they have a Mott High School as well. Mott Hospital which is part of the University of Michigan is also named after him (gmheritagecenter.com).


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  6. Rebecca Dawley says:

    Knudsen elementary school was named after Patricia E Knudsen. NOT a general. Originally named Crescent Lake Elementary, Patricia Knudsen was the original, only and most amazing principal at Crescent Lake until her death. It was then renamed after her. FACT

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