Tue, Oct. 15

Cottonwood High School grads gather
Reunion draws about 300 former students

About 300 former students and graduates from Cottonwood High School, which closed in 1958, gathered over the weekend to talk about old times.

Don Godard of Cornville said the reunion -- which is organized every few years -- drew a "terrific turnout. We expected about 250 people," Godard said. But the event pulled together between 275 and 300 people.

A chat room was held at the old high school at 1 Willard Street in Cottonwood on Friday evening and again Saturday morning. But the big draw was the dinner Saturday at the local Moose Lodge. "We probably had close to 300 for that," Godard said.

The reunions for CHS were started in 1979. "This was the sixth one we've had and the biggest," Godard said. "Everybody had a terrific time."

He said that CHS students came from as far away as New York and Canada.

Cottonwood High School was housed in the Clemenceau Public School building, which now serves as the district office for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District and the Clemenceau Museum.

Built in 1923 and 1924, the school building was used for kindergarten through ninth grades. In 1948 the high school was added, and that closed 11 years later after the 1958 school year. During its years of operation, the school building was expanded somewhat to accommodate high school students.

Four Quonset huts were used to create four new classrooms for high school students. Godard said that a music room was added. "The shop boys built that in '50 and '51," he said.

Then in 1952 the boys in FFA built a building for themselves, which eventually became the school's bus barn.

Godard said that before 1948, high school students in Cottonwood attended Clarkdale High School. "The kids that came here from Clarkdale had a right to stay in Clarkdale to graduate," he said. Some kids opted for the new high school in Cottonwood and some chose to stay in Clarkdale.

After Cottonwood High School closed in 1958, students from the high school once again attended Clarkdale High School, but only for two or three years, according to Godard.

"Then they moved to Jerome and became Mingus High School," he said. Students from throughout the area, including Sedona, were bused to Jerome. Godard said the students living on the Coconino County side of Sedona were bused up through the canyon to Flagstaff. Those on the Yavapai County side were bused to Jerome.

In 1972, students from all of those towns started attending the new high school campus in Cottonwood. That campus -- Mingus Union High School -- is still in operation on Fir Street.

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