North Dakota School for the Deaf

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North Dakota School for the Deaf
Devils Lake, North Dakota
Type Public
Motto Looking Back with Pride, Looking Forward with Confidence
Established March 15, 1890
Head of school Dr. Connie Hovendick
Staff 48
Grades Pre-K to 8th
Number of students 26 (2012-13)
Color(s) Green and White
Mascot Bulldogs

The North Dakota School for the Deaf (NDSD) is a state-funded residential school located in Devils Lake, North Dakota that provides services to meet the educational needs of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. NDSD is under the direction, control, and management of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The current superintendent of the school is Dr. Connie Hovendick.[1]


Before the Dakota Territory was divided, deaf children living in the part of the territory now known as North Dakota had to do without an education or attend the school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Because of poor roads, great distances, meager railroads, and general financial inability, few of the North Dakota children could attend the South Dakota School for the Deaf. In the fall of 1889 Anson R. Spear, a deaf man from Minneapolis, Minnesota, came to North Dakota to establish a school for the deaf.[2] Mr. Spear's political backers, Senator Swanston and Representative McCormick, introduced a bill in the Legislature for the immediate establishment for the proposed school in Devils Lake. The bill passed March 15, 1890, over the veto of Governor John Miller.

The citizens of Devils Lake furnished free for two years a wooden building located at the corner of Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Mr. Spear was appointed superintendent on August 1, 1890, and the first term began September 10, 1890. The first student to be enrolled was 10-year-old Mabel Alice Newton. By the end of the first school year, 23 children were enrolled. The combined method of communication - use of signs, hand alphabet, and oral method - was used to teach the students. In January 1891, money was appropriated by the State Legislature for a permanent building.

The Great Northern Railway donated an 18-acre (73,000 m2) tract of land one mile (1.6 km) north of the heart of Devils Lake for the permanent site of NDSD, and construction of the first building "Old Main" began on May 30, 1892. "Old Main" was designed by Olaf Hanson, a rising deaf architect from Minneapolis.


In the past, NDSD fielded teams in baseball, football, basketball, track and field, etc. Back then, the school had a large enough student population to have enough athletes to compete with various small towns in the area. Due to the reduction in the number of students through mainstream school placement, the school entered into co-op athletic agreements with a couple towns - one was with Crary, although the school now has a co-op agreement with the Devils Lake public schools. In the past, the nickname for the school's teams has always been the Bulldogs; the school's team colors have also always been green and white.

  • Boys' Sports
    • Football (with Devils Lake High School)
    • Basketball
    • Track
  • Girls' Sports
    • Basketball
    • Track

Notable alumni[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 50-51 (PDF)(PDF)

Coordinates: 48°07′23″N 98°52′03″W / 48.12306°N 98.86750°W / 48.12306; -98.86750