50-year Pike School anniversary Feb. 2 offers chance for former students, staff to reminisce
In March 1956, Charles Green was a fourth-grader whose life was about to change. He and other youngsters from what is now
the Mesa Springs neighborhood had been attending Lincoln Elementary on Cascade Avenue, but with the I-25 freeway going in,
a new school had been built west of it - Pike Elementary on Chestnut Street. And that's where young Charles would be going.
“It was a lot closer to home, but it was a bit of a change for a lot of kids to transfer and leave all their friends,” Green recalled in a recent interview. Those were difficult times in other ways for him. He remembers being outraged that the state had the power to force his family to relocate (their “country”-style house and property were about where I-25's southbound lanes are now). He would pull up surveying stakes in hopes of preventing the inevitable.
Little did he know that in the years to come his own children would attend the school and he himself would create the welded- steel sculpture of the Pike pirate which has adorned the school's front lawn since 1993.
Now 58, Green and his family - and undoubtedly others who date back to the school's early days - will attend Pike's 50th anniversary celebration Thursday, Feb. 2. The event will be from 3:30 to 6 p.m., featuring scrapbooks, photos and '50s music.
“Join us for a birthday reception celebrating Pike Elementary's past and present successes,” reads the flyer for the event. “Take a trip down memory lane and enjoy old friends.”
Judy Causey doesn't go back quite as far as Charles Green, but she too has plenty of memories after 33 years with the school's library. Her own kids had attended Pike for a while in the late '60s. “I love this community and the people here,” she said. “I really, really enjoy it when family members come back, and even some of their children. It's a real nice feeling.”
Causey plans to retire after this school year. One of her accomplishments was helping change the library circulation from cards to computers. “It was a good change,” she said, “but an awful lot of work, getting everything barcoded and all that.”
Another person with plenty of Pike longevity is Lisa Scott. Her grandmother, Niki Nelson, taught there from about 1959 to 1979. When a new teacher came to Pike in the early '60s, Niki liked her so well she introduced her to her son Jon, and the two eventually got married. They became Lisa's parents. Lisa herself has watched all three of her children go through Pike and worked in food service at the school for the past six months (before recently going to work with her husband, Mike).
“It feels more like family than anything else,” she said. “You develop close relations with the teachers. You can call them anytime and they can tell you whether your kids are having a good day.”
The naming of Pike Elementary was timed to the 150th anniversary of Pike's expedition. The school-dedication ceremony March 21, 1956, was memorable for some because the keynote speaker was Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr., whose great-great grandfather had been a brother of the famous Western explorer. Green confesses that he does not remember Pike's speech, but he does recall his own part in the ceremony, which was to receive a large print of the famous engraving by Charles Wilson Peale and to give a short speech of gratitude to Kenneth Englert of the Colorado Springs Historical Society (who presented it). The print still hangs in its frame, seemingly un-touched by time, in the school's front anteway.
Leading up to the 50th anniversary, the school library has been involved in the 200th anniversary of Pike's expedition by encouraging students to learn facts about the man and to read for 1,800 minutes - the number of miles it took him to get to Colorado. During school Feb. 2, Carol Kennis of the Pioneers Museum will give a talk about Pike.
Creating the sculpture was nothing new for Green. He's done mascots for other schools as part of his sculpting business, he said. But he was pleased to be asked to do one for his old school. His original design showed the pirate with a knife in his mouth in addition to the sword in his hand. He was a little disappointed the school had him take the knife out. Still, he's happy with how it turned out and the respect it's gotten, never being vandalized. “I have a sense of pride about that,” he said.
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