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Alumni fear loss of amenities at new school

Centennial HS veterans wall.jpg
Posted at 7:45 PM, May 05, 2021

PUEBLO, Colorado — As construction gets underway on the new Centennial High School, many alumni are worried about what the building will be missing. The school's foundation raised money over the years to build a museum, courtyard, and veterans wall on the current campus. In the plans for the new school, the land under these amenities will become sports fields and a drainage pond.

Don "Corky" Madrid, a past president of the foundation board, personally contacted hundreds of alumni all around the globe to help champion the cause of the museum and the courtyard projects. He said the contributions were sizable.

"One and half million (dollars) but that's not to say about the in-kind and the labor, I got a lot of materials free," Madrid said.

This is the fourth time in Pueblo history that a new building will be constructed for Centennial High School. Jo Hansen, the president-elect of the foundation board, said it's important to keep a connection to the school's past alive for students today and in the future.

"We have a very long and strong tradition. It's important for our students to have the physicality of that."

District facilities director Bob Lawson said features from the foundation projects will be incorporated into the new high school. All of the bricks and pavers in the courtyard that were sold to help raise money will be used to decorate the front entryway and rear patio of the new building. Space has also been set aside indoors for the foundation to display the memorabilia from the museum.

However, the veterans wall would likely be damaged if crews attempted to move it.

Board member Tony Aragon is disappointed that it will be razed. He said the school has hosted many events here on military holidays.

The wall lists the names, dates, and branches of service of military members who were either students here or at one of the other Pueblo high schools. It also lists the names, dates, and branches of service of veterans who are related to Centennial high students.

"Pueblo really likes it, all the veteran foundations, the chamber of commerce, they're all for it, they support it," Aragon said.

The museum was built in 2001 as an extension to the current building. Lawson said it would lack the necessary plumbing, electricity and other infrastructure to be left as a stand-alone feature on campus.

In the plans for the new high school, some land is set aside for the construction of a new museum. However, district administrators explained that the bond funds approved by voters for the new high schools must only be spent building new schools. They cannot be used to recreate the foundation amenities.

The prospect of raising the money again seems overwhelming to the alumni on the foundation.

"All of those efforts seem to be going by the wayside and it really hurts," Madrid said.

Hansen explained that since the completion of the construction projects, all new money raised by the foundation has directly benefited student programs.

"I'm not sure we can mount that kind of campaign again, and if we do, that's money that doesn't go from the foundation straight to the students of this school."