More than 40 years ago, a $6 million dollar project bond issue made it possible for a new school to be built in North Kansas City Schools. The building at 48th Street and North Topping was estimated to cost 4.7 million dollars and would hold 2,000 students. Yet, long before any of that could become a reality, a few visionaries had to set the wheels in motion.
It was January 1913 when Miss Mary Winn realized the importance of having better transportation in the area. Miss Winn donated land for the Interurban line that ran nearby the future school's location. Children, in those days, came to school on foot because there were no sidewalks and few of the streets were dirt. The men who built the line camped on her land and stored their equipment there. When it came time to name the stop at the present I-35 and Brighton exit, the construction superintendent invited Miss Winn to help name the stop. The men had already decided to name it in her honor and wanted her approval. Many names beginning with Winn were mentioned, but when Winnetonka was suggested, everyone immediately agreed this should be the name.
Finally in 1968 it came time to name the new high school located in this area. Dr. R.B. Doolin, Superintendent, selected a committee consisting of Dr. Dan Kahler, Oak Park High School principal; Dr. Robert C. Howe, North Kansas City High School principal; and Student Council presidents Jack Beers of Oak Park and Mark Faln of North Kansas City. Names considered by the committee were Royalview, Hilltop, Hilldale and Winnetonka. Winnetonka was favored because of the romantic Indian sound and the positive beginning of the name, WINN-etonka. In October it was officially announced as Winnetonka. It would take more than two years, through strike-plagued labor and split-shift schedules with Oak Park, to open the school.
On March 1, 1971, 34 teachers, two administrators, four secretaries, and a school nurse joined 600 sophomores to begin a journey that has now trekked for more than 40 years.