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Lyal W. Burkholder was born in Bluffton, Ohio, in 1904, and received his elementary and secondary education there. He earned his B.S. degree in 1926 from Bluffton College and his M.A. degree from Ohio State in 1933. He was superintendent of schools in Ohio for ten years before coming to Henderson.


The Henderson school zone began before his arrival with a one-room schoolhouse established in 1932, known as Railroad Pass School District. The school was located on the south side of the pass, where mining activity was centered around properties of the Klinger family.


During the World War II era, numerous factories located themselves to the Las Vegas Valley (among these factories were Basic Management Industries (Basic Magnesium Inc.) and Timet). When the state of Nevada decided to create a city for the workers of these businesses, the name decided upon was "Basic." The newly found Basic, Nevada needed a school for their children to attend, hence Basic High School received the name of its city (the city of Basic is now the city of Henderson, Nevada). Roy G. Petrie and Ben Church were the first two superintendents of the Basic school system started in 1942. The original name of Railroad Pass High School was changed to Basic High School.


Lyal Burkholder began his career in Henderson as principal of Basic High

School in 1943. The Townsite campus on Water Street served elementary,

junior high and high school students, along with other elementary facilities

in Carver Park. In the latter part of 1943, he joined the Red Cross as a

counselor and was stationed at Umnak, Alaska, working with the

U.S. Armed Forces.


Returning to Henderson in 1947, he again became principal of Basic High

School. In 1951, he was appointed Superintendent of the Henderson

School District. When the Clark County School District was formed in 1956,

he became an Area Administrator.

In the early fifties, Park Village (now Robert Taylor ES) and Basic (now Gordon McCaw ES) Elementary Schools were built. The original Townsite campus continued to serve students as Townsite Elementary and Henderson Junior High into the sixties. Whitney and Valley View (now C.T. Sewell ES) also served elementary students.

Lyal Burkholder received the title of “Mr. Education” and “Mr. Henderson.” Many honors and awards were bestowed upon him. These include: National Education Association Life Membership, Henderson Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year, First Industrial Days Chairman (a position he held for 15 years), charter member of Delta Rho Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, awards from Nevada State Future Homemakers of America and Future Farmers of America, and the Nevada Outstanding Citizen’s Award for meritorious service to the youth of Clark County.


Mr. Burkholder’s wife, Miriam, was an elementary music teacher in the Clark County School District. After his retirement, Mr. Burkholder remained active in the Henderson community. From the time he came to Henderson in 1943 until he retired in 1969, Lyal Burkholder was the biggest booster and best fundraiser for Henderson schools. It was through his efforts that the young industrial city built the schools and hired the staff to serve its children.


Lyal W. Burkholder (1904 - 1983) and Miriam C. Burkholder (1907 - 2002) are buried at the Palm Mortuary Memorial Park in Henderson, Nevada. They are survived by their daughter, Constance D. Burkholder-Lindesmith of Arcadia, California, three grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

In 1952, a new Basic High School was begun on Van Wagenen St. and opened in 1954. In 1972, the high school moved it its third and present location on Palo Verde making way for Burkholder Junior High School.

The Burkholder Junior High School campus on Van Wagenen Street was closed in 2004 for demolition and reconstruction. The original Basic High School gymnasium was renovated and converted to a student activity center/cafeteria. The rebuilt Lyal Burkholder Middle School campus opened in August 2007.

       - 2004

2007 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - Present

Principals of Burkholder Middle School

Mr. Joseph Sanfratel

Mr. Halvor Bennion

Mr. William Rhonkohl

Mr. Frank Lamping

Ms. Jan Schwartz

Ms. Diana Chalfant

Mr. Monte Bay

Mr. David Erbach

Ms. Jessie Phee

Mr. Greg Hunter

Mr. Christopher Hermes

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