Highland Park Elementary celebrates centennial

By: 
News-Argus Staff

The original design of Highland Park School, shown here in an undated photo thought to be taken in 1917, earned it the nickname “The Alamo.”
Photo courtesy of Matthew Ventresca
 

Former Highland Park teacher Patricia Carroll (left), who taught at the school from 1959 to 1987, poses in this undated photo with student Laura Gilskey, now herself a teacher at Highland Park.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Ventresca
 

Talk about a reason to celebrate -- this year marks the 100th anniversary of Highland Park Elementary School, and at the same time it’s also the school’s 50th anniversary.
The original Highland Park building was built a century ago, in 1917. According to Principal Matt Ventresca, the original school was nicknamed “The Alamo,” due to its mission-like design elements. Ventresca said he does not believe any part of the original school building is still standing, but historic photos document its imposing architecture.
The most recent construction at Highland Park happened in 1967, making it the 50th anniversary of the existing building. A story in the Aug. 10, 1967 edition of the News-Argus shows the nearly complete addition, although it was noted that the interior work was still to be done and the addition to the school would not be open for use until December of that year.
Ventresca, who has been the Highland Park principal for two years, said he feels it’s important to document the school’s history and importance to the community.
As part of that effort, former Highland Park staff and students have been invited back to join the 100th anniversary celebration taking place on Monday, Oct. 9, at 3:30 p.m.
Ventresca said he and his staff have reached out to prior teachers, administrators, support staff and, of course, students, and they are getting a good response.
“Some of the prior staff have said they will come back for the centennial reunion,” Ventresca said. “A woman dropped in with a photo of the school from 1921. Another person was a teacher here from the 50s to the 80s, and she is hoping to attend. The son of a former janitor said he hopes to bring his father back for the celebration. His father worked here between 1959 and 1987.”
Ventresca said any former staff member or student is welcome to join current staff and students at Highland Park on Oct. 9.
 “There will be cookies, refreshments and a slide show of past and current Highland Park photos,” he said. “You can tour your old stomping grounds and add a memory from your years at Highland Park to our ‘Memory Wall.’”
Part of the 100-year anniversary celebration includes an assembly at the school on Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. Ventresca said the planning committee would appreciate photos or other information from Highland Park’s past, which will be included in a history presentation during the assembly.
Photos or other information can be sent by email to matthew.ventresca@lewistown.k12.mt.us.
 

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