Alta Vista, History and Memories Combine

Alta Vista Celebrates 100 Years

The Alta Vista Charter School observed its 100th anniversary with a celebration geared to trigger some memories for a lot of the older students and provide some younger ones with new recollections for years to come. The school, built in 1917, has served five generations of students from Prowers County.

Principal Talara Coen

The school has stood in the same location on County Road LL and was given a comprehensive overhaul and expansion several years ago. Antiquated rooms and support systems were in need of an upgrade which came from a BEST Grant.  Alta Vista became a charter school in 1998, the only country school still in use in Prowers county since 1991 and now serves grades K through 6.

Capturing a Memory

Administrator/Principal – Talara Coen provided some details from a busy hallway during the open house this past Saturday, August 26th.  “Lori Blacker came to me with an idea for our 100th anniversary just about a year ago with the intention of offering history and entertainment to alumni and the community in general,” Coen explained.  “We put together an advisory group of 15 people that took the ball and ran with it as more of a labor of love than anything else.”

Playground Fun

The celebration, which ran from 4pm to 7pm, offered history and entertainment, from a kid’s pickle barrel train and jumping booths outdoors, to lots of ways to remember past school years, teachers and friends from all the writings and photos which lined the school hallways. Many area residents who were students just found a quiet corner in a hallway or classroom and just reminisced on times gone by.  Other events included a tour of the school provided by alumni, a memory book of past times, live entertainment consisted of violin music and a meal and a history-based skit rounded out the entertainment.

Coen said one of the oldest attendees was Audrey Coats was went to Alta Vista back in the 1920s, adding, “She’s in her 90s now and talked about a school that had only outhouses, no electricity and for a while she was the school’s custodian, living in the basement. This event has offered a glimpse at such a rich history and I’ve had the chance to meet so many people who attended in the 1950s and 60s who showed up this evening.”

Coen said that although the committee asked for some historical memorabilia, one added feature was conducting in-person interviews. “They lined up a number of people to visit with including Glenda McWilson and her parents who will be featured in our historical skit.  Apparently her dad made a $17 bid for her mom’s box lunch which was unheard of in those days and they were married for 59 years.  We found out a lot of that type of human interest history we couldn’t have gotten in other ways, so the committee just did an excellent job of providing this kind of information for tonight.”

The doors are open for new memories, as Coen said enrollment has a few openings for the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, “We’re at 134 students now and that’s the most we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” she stated.

In some ways it’s more telling than ironic that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Alta Vista Charter School offers some of the latest teaching and infrastructure innovations you could imagine; from motion sensor classroom lighting to computers and smart boards, which have replaced the old-time blackboards from years ago.  But, if you sit at one of the desks and gaze out the window, you’d view corn growing in the field just yards away from the school building, a sight which has mostly remained unaltered for the past century.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureCity of LamarCountyEducationEntertainmentEventsFeaturedHistoryHot TopicsSchoolYouth


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