ACHS: History in the Making

 The following text and pictures are intended to give a timeline history of the beginnings of Aurora  Central High School (a.k.a. Aurora High School).

As information is gathered and verified this page may change and is definitely an ongoing work as more history unfolds.  If there are facts that have been misstated or need to be clarified please feel free to communicate with me by  Clicking Here to send me an eMail.  Thank you for your patience and enjoy!!!

 

 "In the Beginning:"

 1882 -- William Smith bought land now occupied by Park East (the land was bordered on the north by 6th Avenue and on the east by Peoria).
 
 1885 -- William Smith rode up and down the Highline Canal organizing School District 28.  This district extended from east of Fletcher to Colorado Boulevard and was one of the largest school districts in the state.  Hugh Strachen and others filed petitions in the Arapahoe County Superintendent's office on March 23, forming School District 28.  Those first school board members consisted of William Bailey, president; C. T. Hastell, treasurer; and William Smith, secretary.
 
 1886 -- On Febrary 6, a tax of ten mills was levied.  The school board was empowered to build and furnish a school house, not to exceed $1200.  This was the old Smith School (a.k.a. School 28) at 6th and Highline (Peoria) on ground loaned to the district by William Smith.  This school was built on what would now be considered the southwest corner of the Peoria Street and 6th Avenue intersection.

Smith Farm School 1887 (first School District 28 building)

 
 1890 -- The name Aurora first appeared on maps of this area as a joint land venture among a group of investors.
 
 1891 --  The square area bounded by 26th Avenue (North); 6th Avenue (South); Peoria Street (East); and Yosemite Street (West) was officially incorporated as the Town of Fletcher on May 4.
 
 Click on the Map for a larger view of the Town of Fletcher (inside the dark square).
 
 1892 -- The Town of Fletcher's first school, a tiny one-room frame at 16th Avenue and Fulton Street burned to the ground.  Citizens of Fletcher demanded from the School District 28 board, that a new school be built.  This new school was erected, on the same site, as a one-room brick schoolhouse with one teacher, Maudie Jones.  Maudie took care of all eight grades, though, as might be expected of country school during this time period, she seldom had more than five or six grades.  The belief is that Aurora School was named for the Aurora subdivision in which it resided within the Town of Fletcher.
 
 1905 -- The principal of Aurora School is Miss Galloway.  The school board approved two additional classrooms added to the schoolhouse on Fulton Street because of so many students.  Still, after the addition, only grades first through ninth attended this school due to limited room.  The school board paid scholars' tuition to attend a Denver high school.
 
 1907 -- February 25, at 8:00 p.m., the Town of Fletcher ceased to exist and the City of Aurora is officially born from parcels of land in addition to what was Fletcher.
 
 1909 -- The ninth grade is discontinued at Aurora School due to space constraints.
 
 1913 -- The principal of Aurora School, Leo F. Curtis, persuaded the school board to provide facilities for high school grades.  Soon a basement and a few more classrooms were added to the building on Fulton Street, along with a well-equipped laboratory and principal's office.  One feature of the new part of the building was its ability to be changed into a play-house with a fine solid stage, set off by a splendid light display.  The faculty consisted of nine teachers, the principal included.  Aurora High School is born as part of Aurora School!!!
 
1917 --  The very first senior class, consisting of six students, graduated from Aurora High School.  Mrs. Margaret Eddy succeeded Mr. Curtis as principal.  Fewer students enrolled this year because of the call to colors (enlistment in the armed forces).
 

Aurora School (including high school) in 1918

 
 1918 -- Mr. Earl P. Bell became principal and continued in this position until 1923.
 
 1919 -- On February 22 (Washington's Birthday), Aurora School/Aurora High School burns to the ground.  Classes are moved to the Presbyterian Church at 17th and Elmira, Town Hall, the Telephone Office annex, and a few other nooks and crannies around town.  Plans for a new $40,000 school building are approved by the Aurora school board on May 4 of this year.  On June 20, Commencement exercises were held honoring three graduating seniors of Aurora High School.  After the fire a new Aurora School, which was to contain a “complete high school”, was built at 16th and Florence Street (this school later became Martha Crawford School).  Aurora School/Aurora High School had a basketball floor of dirt where one had to watch for steam pipes in shooting for a basket.
 

The new Aurora School / Aurora High School in 1920

 
 1923 -- Mr. Jack McCullough took charge of the school.
 
 1924 -- Even with the handicap of the dirt floor and steam pipes overhead, the boys’ basketball team was able to win the Denver Suburban League Pennant.  More important than winning the title, Aurora had the best one-legged basketball player in Manley Lovejoy.  He was a dead shot from the corner of the floor.  This same year the girl’s baseball team won the silver cup and Aurora High School was accredited by the North Central High School Association.  Ten high school seniors graduated from Aurora High School.
 
 1925 -- The Aurora High School basketball team played on their first official hardwood floor at the Aurora Community Church on Colfax.
 
 1926 -- The Aurora High School basketball team won the Union Pacific League championship without losing a single game.  This is the first year the word “Trojans” is used as a team name in reference to Aurora High School sports.
 
 

Aurora School / Aurora High School Nov, 1928. Picture courtesy of The Denver Post.

 Pictured above is the student body of Aurora Grade and High School taken on November 27, 1928.  The writing to the lower right side indicates that this picture is from The Denver Post and is number 56 of a series.  The building behind the group is Aurora School / Aurora High School at 16th and Florence (this school later became Martha Crawford School).  NOTE:  Click on the picture for larger detail, click again for even larger detail.
 
  1928 -- Superintendent Jack McCullough reported overcrowding at Aurora School on February 10.  His three proposals for alleviating the issue were to:  1. build a separate building south of Colfax (this proposal was defeated as too costly); 2. build an addition to the present building; 3. limit school plant to one building with a combination auditorium/gymnasium.  Option 2 won favor and three rooms were added to Aurora School.
 
 1930 --  Twelve seniors graduated from Aurora School/Aurora High School and the "Trojans" are big winners in the basketball conference.  "Vote School Bonds" ($55,000) became a popular issue.  This was Aurora's first year with a football program.
 
 1931 --  Aurora had its first high school building with a regulation gymnasium.  Built on a five-acre site in South Aurora and named for William Smith, a 46 year veteran of the Aurora school board, a new "thoroughly modern, splendidly equipped, fire-proof" high school building rose from the dirt.  Dedicated on November 6, 1931, its location at 13th Avenue and Florence Street (to the west of the present West Middle School) with new street and sidewalks created a demand for the "most beautifully situated" lots in the town.  Although the new school building was named William Smith High School, this and all subsequent classes continued to refer to themselves as Aurora High School.
 

William Smith High School (1932)

 
1934 -- Aurora High School graduates 31 seniors.
 
 1935 -- Election held for president of the school board.  W. C. Hancock was elected as his name was the only one on the ballot.
 
 

William Smith High School - Front Door

 This picture of the front door, main entrance, show the architecture and style used in building William Smith High School.
 
1948 -- Fifty-eight seniors graduate from Aurora High School.
 
1949 -- William "Bill" C. Hinkley became superintendent of schools for Aurora after the death of Ray Morehead.  At the time there were 1100 students in the Aurora Public School system.  In Bill's first year enrollment grew to 2000 and from that point on for several years there was always an additional 1000+ students.  At the first faculty meeting of Aurora's only two schools, Aurora School (first through eighth grades) and William Smith High School, there were 28 staff members.
 

Aurora High School (1951)

 
1951 -- First graduating class from new Aurora High School building located to the East of the existing William Smith High School building at 13th Avenue and Florence Street.  This year more than twenty-five percent of the student body is new to Aurora.  Eighty seniors graduate this year.
 
1952 -- Concepts regarding school life are changing:  1. inability to know everyone in school, 2. difficulty in having all students and faculty member interested in all school function, 3. training more student leaders to maintain student morale, 4. problem of having the students sense their needs in a growing school situation, 5. danger of having the school program lag.  Eighty-seven seniors graduate.  There are 108 members of the Junior class, and 138 Sophmores.
 
 1953 -- The auditorium, home economics department, cafeteria, and a number of other classrooms are added to Aurora High School.
 
 1954 -- Aurora High School is now a four-year high school.  123 Seniors graduate.  The other classes by numbers are: Juniors - 160, Sophmores - 238, Freshmen - 250.
 
 

Aurora High School (under construction) January, 1955.

 This view of Aurora High School is from January, 1955, from the south side of the school looking north.   Note the construction still in progress, especially around the Auditorium and Front Entrance on the left-hand side of the picture.  At the top, to the right of center, is the base of the old water tower (this area is now tennis courts).
 
 1955 -- January 17, construction of the new Aurora High School located at 11th Avenue and Newark Street is on schedule.  The 1955-56 school year is remembered for unusual schedules and the use of two buildings for high school classes.  The principal is George Barrows from 1955 - 1962.
 
 

Aurora High School (1956)

  This aerial photo is looking from north to south -- the Auditorium is on the right, the Gymnasium is on the left -- this is considered a view from the back of the school as the front entrance is in the upper right side just above the Auditorium.
 
 1955-56 -- Aurora High School finishes in a three-way tie for the Central Suburban Football Class AA League Title.  The Trojans Basketball Team finished second place in the league.  196 Seniors graduate this year.  William C. Hinkley, Superintendent, writes the following message in the AHS yearbook:  "It has been said that education should be evaluated not alone on standards that measure what you have learned but on standards that indicate how well you have learned to live a happy, useful life and how great is your potential for service to those persons whose lives touch upon yours."
 
 1959 -- Trojan Code of Ethics (Reprinted from the 1959 Aurora Borealis Yearbook):
 
 A Trojan:
Upholds the school name in all he does.
Is a careful and courteous driver.
Does not use profane language.
Dresses appropriately for all functions, whether at School, Church, or in the community.
 At School a Trojan:
Is absent or tardy only when it cannot be avoided.
Never damages school property and always places trash in the proper container.
Does not smoke on the school grounds or in the school building.
Tries to do his best in classwork and homework.
Is on his best behavior and tries to show is genuine appreciation in all assemblies.
Shows respect for his teachers.
Is courteous in th ecafeteria and cleans up his own area...
Is considerate of others in the halls.
At Activities a Trojan:
Is sportsmanlike in his attitudes and actions, whether he is an athlete or a spectator.
Attends all meetings of clubs to which he belongs and works for the good of the club.
 This year (1959) the AHS Debate Team took First Place at the Central Colorado Speech Meet.  The Trojan Tribune completed its eighth year of operation and its first year with a journalism class.  The baseball team was third in State and the AHS Girls were tops in Volleyball, Basketball, Speedball, and Bowling.
 

Aurora High School (1960)

 This "front door" view of AHS is looking from the Southwest towards the Northeast.  Classrooms are on the right and the Auditorium and front office is on the left.
 
 1962 --  The principal is Gene Albo from 1962 to 1969.  Mr. Albo shared this comment at the 1991 rededication, "There used to be a water tower on the corner where the tennis courts now stand.   We never knew what was going to be painted on the tower when we arrived each day, so I instructed the custodian to come in early each morning to white wash the grafitti.  By the time the water tower came down several years later, it must have had at least 100 coats of paint!"
 
 1963 -- 520 Seniors graduate from Aurora High School.  This is the last class to graduate from Aurora High School.  From this point forward the name is changed to Aurora Central High School.  Trojan basketball bows to East High in the second round of the state playoffs.  The Gymnastics team has three state champions and Aurora High Baseball wins the State title over Wasson with a score of 8 to 4.
 
The following pictures show various aspects of Aurora High School.  If you click on any of the pictures you will get a larger view.

Auto Mechanics (now an Art classroom)

Library

Main Foyer (by the Theater) after dark.

Theater (with water issues)

Starting at top left going clockwise we have:  the auto mechanics garage which is now an Art classroom; an unusually quiet library;  it appears that water was a problem in the theater;  and someone's view of the main hallway looking through the window by the front door (the double doors just inside the window to the left are the old entrance to the theater) and a little further down the hall on the left is the door to the front office and principal's office.
 
 

Aerial view of Aurora High School (1963)

 The above aerial view from 1963 was taken by William C. Hinkley and looks from the Southwest (the "old" front entrance of the school is on the left-hand side, middle of picture) towards the Northeast.  Notice the water tower across the street from the school.  Today there are tennis courts located in this area.
 
 Aurora HighSchool 1963 Baseball Champspicture courtesy of William G. Brill (Class of 1964)
Aurora High School 1963 Colorado State Baseball Champs 

Pictured:  (top row, l-r) Coach Buchkowski, Dick Burns, Art Vandenburg, John Brown, Don Young, Joe Childs, Dick Loftis, Bob Roth, Kerry Mottl, Tom Mannschreck, Eddie Dodge, Dick Olson, Steve Shay, Coach Schessler

(bottom row, l-r)  Wayne Rogge, Bob Finney, Tim Scheibler, Ken Kurtz, Dan Kelly, William "Bill" Brill, Harry Sussman, Brian Moffett

 
 
 1964 -- The Senior Class of the newly named Aurora Central High School has 521 members.
 
 

Aurora Central High School (1964)

ACHS as seen from the baseball field looking from the Southeast towards the Northwest. 
 
 1969 -- The principal was John W. "Jack" Messervey from 1969 to 1975.  Mr. Messervey shared this comment at the 1991 rededication ceremony, "The years I spent at Central were the best years I spent in my 27 years with the Aurora Public Schools!  I enjoyed the students and the tremendous staff.  It was my pleasure to be with that caliber of people."
 
 1975 -- The principal was Joseph S. Flierl from 1975 to 1981.  Mr. Fleirl shared this comment during the 1991 rededication ceremony, "One of the finest memories I have of Central was the monthly PTA Study Group meetings held in homes throughout the community.  It was the most professionally rewarding experience of my career!"
 
 1981 -- The principal was Harold Beebe from 1981 to 1986.  Mr. Beebe had this comment to share during the 1991 rededication ceremony, "Aurora Central is the first high school I ever worked with that had such an active PTA involved with the students and staff.  I am still impressed by the commitment of those parents!"
 

 1986 -- The principal was Marc D. Stine from 1986 to 1992.  Mr. Stine shared his comment during the 1991 rededication, "I will never forget the cheering at the groundbreaking, the building shaking when the old cafeteria hallway was demolished, the concerts and performances at middle schools and churches all over Northwest Aurora, our cooks in hard hats and serving lunch in the "old" gym, After Prom and graduation in the middle of a construction zone, the endless moving,..."

 
 1991 -- March 3rd of this year is the Rededication Ceremony for the newly expanded / renovated Aurora Central High School.  Marc D. Stine was principal and the rededication ceremony was held "on the Commons".
     In the newly renovated facility every effort was made to maintain the style and integrity of the original building.   Terrazzo tile and glazed blocks which were used in the '50s and are no longer available, were reused.  Classes once held in Peoria and Burns Church were now able to meet in one location.
     These are the highlights of the renovation: 

     AFJROTC - After being housed in the former kindergarten classroom at Peoria,  they now have their own facility in the annex at the southeast corner of the Main Building.

     Art - This program now has four larger and better equipped rooms.

     Business Education - Now has four new custom-designed computer labs.  This unique design was developed by business and computer  teachers at Aurora Central and is unique to our school.

     Counseling - The new counseling facility.

     Consultive Services (formerly Special Education) - This department's staff and students have returned from Peoria to join colleagues and classmates in the main building.

     Foreign Language - Five years ago (1986) this department moved to Peoria Annex.  Four years later classes met in Burns Church.  Now they move back to the Main Building.

     Home Ec. - Classrooms completely renovated with new dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and washer and dryer.  This part of the building was rewired so that power blackouts no longer occur when the appliances are being used.

     Language Arts - ACTV production lab is built in room 212.

     Library / Media Center - This facility is relocated to north side of the building.

     Mathematics - For the first time in thirteen years the math department is finally housed in one building.  Calculus students may now get college credit from Community College of Aurora.

     Music - vocal and instrumental facilities are acoustically re-engineered.

     P.E. - A new weight room, East Gym, locker rooms, classrooms, training room, and mat room.

     Science - New modern laboratory facilities in all rooms.

     Technology Education - New drafting and CAD Lab.  New electrical service and most of the equipment replaced.  Classes will now be offered in robotics, lasers, fiber-optics, satellite communications, etc.

     The Commons - A new large open area reminiscent of a shopping mall with the school store and attached outdoor plaza.

     Robert L. Troutman Theater (formerly auditorium) - The new theater was named in honor of the teacher who taught mathematics for Aurora Public Schools for 29 years, 28 of those years at Aurora Central.  It has seating for 850 people.

ACHS Rededication Ceremony Program Cover

This image is the program cover from the rededication ceremony.  Click on this image for a printable copy of the entire program.

 
 
 1993 -- Ken Lytwyniuk is the principal from 1993 to 2003.  The fall play was "Rumors", the winter play was "How to Eat Like a Child", and the musical was "The Wiz".  The senior class numbers 263.
 
 
 1999 --
 
 

Aurora Central High School (May, 1999)

 This is an aerial view of Aurora Central High School looking from the Northeast towards the Southwest
 
 
 2002 -- The ACHS yearbook, Aurora Borealis, publishes the first reference to a website dedicated to Aurora Central High School.  
 
 
 2003 -- The principal is James Eshelby for the 2003 - '04 school year.
 
 
 2004 -- Dean Stecklein is principal from 2004 to 2008.
 
 
 2007 -- The '07-'08 school year began on August 6, at 7:30 a.m. with many changes.  Because of a closed campus the lunch room is overwhelmed even with students split among three lunch periods.
The Aurora Central English Department submits a proposal for a grant to the Aurora Education Foundation (AEF) to publish a book of student writing that would portray the powerful stories and perspectives of Aurora Central students. The Language Arts Department encouraged all students to submit non-fiction poetry and short stories, and an overwhelming amount of submission were received and reviewed. AEF generously awarded a $5,000 grant for this publication, and as a result the Aurora Central student voices can be heard through Melting Box of Crayons: True Stories and Poems by Urban High School Students.
 
2008 -- Enrollment this year is 2,324.  The yearbook, Aurora Borealis, is printing volume 80.  During the month of September Aurora Central is visited by Medal of Honor recipient Harvey "Barney" Barnum, Jr.  Mrs. Lynn Fair is the principal from 2008 to present (2012).
RB Central Medal of Honors Visit (104)

Mr. Barnum speaking to the ACHS students.

Mr. Barnum's page from published Medal of Honor book

Mr. Barnum's page from published Medal of Honor book

 

ACHS Senior Class of 2008

332 Seniors graduate this year.
 
2009 -- Aurora voters pass school bond issues that include the addition of eight classrooms to the current Aurora Central High School.  The new classrooms will primarily house the Aurora Lights Health Science Academy students. 
This year the Boy's Varsity Basketball play in the Final Four game and the Girl's Varsity Basketball make it to the first round of playoffs before both are eliminated.  This is the last year that the Skyline league will exist.
 The student population of Aurora Central High School is comprised of people from 30 different countries.  With this diverse student body comes twenty-eight different languages, including several different dialects of Spanish, many different African tribal languages, and American Sign Language.
 
2010 - 2011 -- This year ACHS has a student population of 2,291, with 186 staff members.  Our ethnic breakdown is 67.7% Hispanic, 16.2% Black, 7.7% White, 5.4% Asian, 0.8% Native American.  38.4% of our student population is Limited English Proficient, 4.6% are Gifted & Talented, and 14.5% are Special Education students.
 As a District, Aurora Public Schools (APS) is the sixth largest school district with a student population of 38,600 spread over 59 schools (including six charter schools).  The APS student demographic breakdown is 51.9% Hispanic, 22.1% White, 17.9% Black, 4.2% Asian, 0.8% Native American, & 0.4% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
 

2013 - 2014 -- Our new principal, Dr. Mark A. Roberts, comes to us from the west coast.  His past work with high poverty, high minority, and underachieving schools will be helpful in turning our school around.  Also, Aurora Public Schools District 28-J has a new Superintendent, Mr. Rico Munn.

 

2014 - 2015 -- ACHS has reached its fifth and final year in turnaround status and it does not appear that our improvement goals have been met.  This is the year that the CDE (Colorado Department of Education) decides the fate of ACHS.  Will we become a charter, innovation, or pilot school?  Will we be closed down completely?  Our student body is 2,188 strong and are categorized as the following:  66.8% Hispanic, 16.5% Black, 8.1% Asian, 5.2% White, 0.8% Native American, 0.4% Hawaiian Islander, and 2.3% of our total population falling under two or more of the above categories.  

Our English Language Learners (ELL) make up 43.2% of our entire student body.  These ELL students are immigrants and refugees both documented and undocumented.  Aurora Central has 12 different languages from 15 different countries.  Some of the countries represented here are Jordan, Turkey, Kenya, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Sudan.

 
 

"Other Related Reading"

These articles can be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Get this free program by clicking on the 'Get Adobe Reader' icon >>> 
 
Aurora Central: 'A Trojan for life...'  by Courtney Oakes of The Aurora Sentinel
Trophy Case: Aurora Central High School by The Aurora Sentinel Staff
Top Athletes: Aurora Central High School  by The Aurora Sentinel Staff
"A Hundred Next Years:  Triggering a Don Young flashback" a blog about the Chicago Cubs written by a guy who walks around with a 1970 Don Kessinger card in his briefcase.  
NOTE:  Don Young is a 1963 graduate of Aurora High School. 
 
 

 BIBLIOGRAPHY

 ACHS Yearbook Staff.  Aurora Borealis (1926 - Current).
 The Aurora Sentinel Staff.  The Aurora Sentinel (2010)
 Mehls, Steven F.; Drake, Carol J.; Fell, James E., Jr.  Aurora: gateway to the Rockies.  Colorado: Cordillera Press, Inc., 1985.
 McFadden, Carl Vincent; McFadden, Leona M.  Early Aurora.  Aurora, Colorado: Aurora Technical Center, 1978.
 Denver Times 10 Nov. 1899, p2 c4.
 Denver Post 4 May 1919, p22.
 Aurora Historical Society.  Aurora's First Forty-five Years: A Brief Chronological History.  Colorado: Aurora Public Schools Technical Center, 1981.
 Shatz, Richard.  "History of First School."  AHS Annual  (1917).
 McFadden, Carl V.  "History of Aurora High School"  Aurora Borealis  (1926).
 Dale, John.  "Re: Research on Aurora High & Aurora Central."  Email to John D. Wollbrinck.  29 February 2008.
 Harris, Francis.  "A Historical View of Aurora Central High School."  Email to John D. Wollbrinck.  7 July 2008.