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Built in 1960 on ten acres of land located outside Lawrence's city limits in the valley south of the Wakarusa River for which the school was named, Wakarusa Valley Elementary School services 186 students in grades K-6. According to John Holloway's 1868 History of Kansas, the name Wakarusa comes from an Indian legend which tells of a maiden who began to cross the river on horseback, and as she continued, the water became increasingly deeper until her body was half immersed. At that point she exclaimed, “Wakarusa!” (hip deep). She apparently crossed safely, but as a result of this event, the river became known by the indigenous people as the Wakarusa.