The question, of course, is why? Why would someone break into Pueblo High School and trash the school to the tune of reportedly almost $1 million, damaging its almost-new basketball court, as well as several classrooms?
The first and most costly act of vandalism occurred over winter break. The second — with two classrooms trashed — happened just three weeks later. As of this writing, the vandals are still at large.
Maybe they’re common criminals with no connection to the school. Maybe they’re former students who never managed to graduate. Or perhaps they got kicked out and hold a grudge for the subsequent consequences of their own making.
Whoever they are, I know this: They did not graduate with honors from this south side school. Those of us who did would never deface a school that taught us so much, in and out of the classroom.
Occupied by students and staff in the waning months of the 1955-56 school year, this brand-new high school was a point of pride for just about all of us in those early years. Coming, for the most part, from rather humble homes, we marveled at the school’s clean, brick exteriors, as well as its modern interiors, with its sweeping windows and graceful patios for lunchtime dining.
At Christmastime, its main foyer — where all the lettermen gathered between classes — held some sort of holiday tree. The one I distinctly remember was formed from giant tumbleweeds, spray-painted white.
Football and basketball games were always jam-packed. Afterwards, dances were held in the school cafeteria, (35 cents stag, 50 cents “drag”) where we slow danced to the recordings of Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk,” or “Over the Mountain; Across the Sea,” by Johnnie and Joe.
In 1961, a swimming pool — both for swim classes and for nighttime swims — went in, a luxury few of us enjoyed in our own backyards. Pueblo also boasted its own little theater, overseen by drama teacher Don Caslow. The year he produced “Gidget,” he had a truckload of sand delivered to the theater to mimic the beach. Don’t ask me how.
At a time when we were in a space race with the Soviets, Pueblo offered both Russian and calculus. Senior year, I took advanced English. A few years later, I discovered it closely correlated with my humanities class at the University of Arizona.
But the main thing to crow about at Pueblo during those halcyon years was its diversity — about 50 percent Anglo, the rest mainly Hispanic, with a few black students and Asians. One year our student body president was a Chinese-American girl, the next year it was a Mexican-American boy.
Sure, not everything was peachy back then. I remember a few fights in the cafeteria, but nothing more serious, even though there were no campus monitors at the gate and elsewhere, as there are now.
The fall after I graduated from Pueblo, I went back for homecoming. But I already sensed times — and demographics — were changing. Today, according to U.S. News & World Report, Anglos make up 4 percent of the student body. The show still goes on in the little theater, and advanced classes are still offered. Many of the kids from Pueblo go on to college, as many of us did.
More than 60 years later, there is still pride in that red-brick building on Tucson’s south side, a bulwark against poverty and ignorance, a place where we thrived and learned together — gaining skills and perceptions that somehow evaded whoever trashed Pueblo High.
If and when the perpetrators are apprehended. I’m not sure even they will be able to answer, “Why?”