Waldo Middle School, built in 1957, was named for Daniel Waldo, one of Oregon’s most enterprising and innovative early pioneers. He was born in Virginia in 1800 and made the journey to Oregon in 1843 with his wife and family. He settled a 1,000-acre homestead in what is now called Waldo Hills. He engaged in many enterprises in Oregon, and was a lawmaker and judge. Mr. Waldo spent the last years of his life living in Salem until his death on September 10, 1880. A committee of Salem citizens suggested the name “Waldo” when the school was built. Parish and Leslie, the other area junior high schools, had been named for pioneers.

n 1968, the Waldo staff decided to replace the grass in the courtyard with exotic plants and trees native to Oregon. Science teacher Wes Niemela led a group of students and staff who worked for two years to complete the project. They collected plants from the forests around Salem and the Mr. Niemela’s garden. The courtyard garden remains a centerpiece of our school, providing a suitable habitat for a family of ducks returning each spring. Currently, Mr. Hawley’s gardening class maintains the courtyards between the wings of the school. The gardening class was started by Mrs. Sally White, who has since retired.

During the 1996-97 school year the second courtyard at Waldo began a transformation that mirrored the efforts of Wes Niemela and his students. Science teacher Mike Weddle and the Roots and Shoots/Leo Club he organized were responsible for creating another native Oregon species courtyard. This courtyard is complete with a pond, waterfall, native Oregon trees, plants, and animals.

Waldo Middle School has a staff of 70, and includes grades six through eight. Mrs. Tricia Nelson is the principal and the assistant principal is Mr. Joe Valencia. Waldo’s nickname is the “Mustangs.”