About Us


Licking and Fairfield Counties, Ohio
Don Huber, SWL Board of Education 1994-2017


The Southwest Licking Local School District began operations on September 19, 1953, after a consolidation of the Etna, Kirkersville, and Pataskala school districts was approved by voters in all three districts. Fully operational by 1954, it was the first district of its type in Licking County.

Named for Dr. C.D. Watkins, a beloved physician in the Southwest Licking area, the new Watkins Memorial High School opened in 1955. After a few years, a junior high school was organized in the high school building. The junior high school became a middle school in 1975, occupying a new building built for the purpose. After additions in 1980, this building became the high school and the middle school moved to the original high school building.

Elementary schools continued in the older Etna, Kirkersville, and Pataskala buildings after the creation of the consolidated district. Additions in the 1960s expanded the capacity of these schools. Continuing growth in the district led to the construction of a new Etna Elementary School in 1996. The original 1916 Etna building was then converted to district offices and a Kindergarten Center was organized in the newer wing of that building. Presently, this space is occupied by the Southwest Licking Early Learning Center Preschool.

In 2000-2001, major renovations and additions were completed at Pataskala Elementary, Kirkersville Elementary, Watkins Middle School, and Watkins Memorial High School, and a Support Services Center was purchased to provide space for the transportation, food service, maintenance, and technology departments.

Current emphases in the growing district are the improvement of curricula and teacher education in all buildings and the planning for additional educational space, as all buildings are currently filled to capacity.

The present educational organization of the school district is:

  • Preschool at The Early Learning Center 
  • Grades K-1 at Kirkersville
  • Grades 2-3 at Pataskala
  • Grades 4-5 at Etna
  • Grades 6-8 at Watkins Middle School
  • Grades 9-12 at Watkins Memorial High School


Superintendents who have served the district are:
James Kirkpatrick   1954-59
William Stubbs1959-62
Joseph Ross1962-65
Emil Vavrik1965-67
Harry Bowen1967-72
Ben Webb1972-80
Ralph Nix1980-85
Terry Higgins1985-92
Thomas Gay1992-95
Gary Smetzer1995-98
Mark North1998-02
Forest Yocum2002-12
Robert Jennell  

The Southwest Licking Local School District is governed by a five-member Board of Education elected by the citizens of the district. The present members are:

Kandee EnglePresident
Debra MooreVice President
Roger Zeune     
Catherine Spindler   
John VincentMember
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