Come Back to Our Valley

Last week I wrote about the early history of the Mancos school system. I closed with students coming into the stone high school building that we see as we drive past the school.

A year later, in 1911, there was a fire in the high school building that did little overall damage but almost to the day a year later the building once again caught fire. This time the result was disastrous. It took four months for students to be allowed back into much of the building. Some of the students spent their days in the Baptist church. The good thing to come out of the situation was that the fire insurance covered the cost of renovating the building.

In 1915, the Webber and Wattles schools were closed and those students were bused into town. Buses in those early days were not what we see parked beside the school to deliver students back to their homes. It was an enclosed wagon pulled by a team of horses. My mother talked about the Webber wagon to some extent. She said there was a small stove in the wagon and those students getting on first were of course the ones to sit next to the stove. She said that many a day she was unable to get close to the stove and froze all the way to town and on to the school.

The high school building proved to be too small for the needs, some of which were caused by bringing the Webber and Wattles students into town. Some squabbles erupted as the school wanted to float a bond to increase the size of the building. It wasn't until 1922 that the bond passed. On the back side of the building, five classrooms were added along with an auditorium that was used for basketball, public events and school dances. On each side of the basketball floor was a loft of sorts and people would crowd into them to yell and cheer during ball games. I used to wonder what would happen if one of them came crashing down but that seemed to be the farthest thing from people's minds. The stage in the auditorium seemed to us who participated in plays to be just the right size. It had pulled curtains and backdrops that could be changed out according to the play or other activity.

One of things none of my sources mentioned was the large study hall that was a part of the addition in 1922. Many a student must still recall some of the incidents that went on there. It was out of hand enough that teachers must have done anything possible to not have to be responsible for the discipline in study hall.

Then in 1951 a new grade school building was erected. It had eight classrooms and a large cafeteria. It also had a band room and as hard as Dickey Long tried to keep us playing as we were supposed to be doing, he at times yelled at us as if he himself were out of control. One day he was wildly trying to have order and ended up throwing his baton. It ended up stuck in the ceiling where it stayed for the rest of the school year.