With Pueblo City School District 60 set to build a new Centennial High School in the coming years, the Centennial High School Foundation is fighting to ensure that building plans honor the history and legacy of the 144-year-old school.
District plans for the new school building do not include space for the Centennial High School Museum, a 2001 addition to the current school building at 2525 Mountview Drive.
“We have been told in these meetings that the design team has been instructed not to add anything other than what the plans have,” said Mike Sexton, president of the Centennial High School Foundation. “We constantly, respectfully inquire about it and they respectfully tell us they can’t do anything about it.”
The 1,700 square-foot museum includes annuals, sports memorabilia, clocks, desks, and a multitude of other artifacts associated with the old Centennial school building on 11th Street and Grand Street that was demolished in 1974. The museum was built largely through donations and community support, Sexton said.
“It’s like you are walking back in time and looking at a lot of these,” Sexton said. “You go back to one of the old parts of the museum and it looks like it is one of the old classrooms from the early days of Centennial.”
“It’s more than what words can describe,” Sexton said. “I just can’t explain to you how important it is and the items that are in that small space mean to a lot of people in this community. The reunions come in and it is one of the first places they want to go when they are having their reunion.”
A courtyard with bricks and tiles honoring alumni and community donations was built around the museum in 2014. A Veteran’s Wall paying tribute to U.S. military veterans from Pueblo area schools was added to the courtyard in 2017.
If the museum and courtyard continues to be excluded from the District’s plans, the area will likely be demolished. Several artifacts will be returned to the Pueblo County Historical Society. Commemorative bricks and tiles will be returned to their respective donors. Sexton said the foundation may also pay for additional storage until funding is allocated for a new museum.
“All these historic items at Centennial and Pueblo will be in mothballs and not out there for people to enjoy,” Sexton said. “… I am afraid we are probably going to lose a lot of the function of the Foundation if we don’t keep that spirit and that legacy alive with the museum.”
Sexton, along with other members of the Centennial Foundation, will be speaking at the August 25th school board meeting about the importance of preserving the museum. He said anyone interested is invited to show their support.
The Centennial High School Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit started in 2001 by educator Bob Collyer and then principal Frank Latino to connect current students, alumni, and community members with the school’s history.