Healing our inner child is a concept that most of us are familiar with, unique to each person’s perspective. For me, this looked like running to Prospect Valley Elementary School, followed by sitting under the big cottonwood tree that overlooked the playground and field. I caught myself several times engulfed with nostalgia, recovering lost memories from my early years. My most recent run looked a little different. As I turned the corner on 38th and Parfet, I noticed that the big cottonwood tree and the school I once attended were reduced to rubble, surrounded by metal fencing and men in bright yellow construction outfits. I took a minute to look at the remnants, revisiting the memories from the seven years that I spent there. My thoughts then shifted to the idea that nothing is more symbolic of growing up than your old elementary school being demolished. What a nice thought. Now at the ripe age of 20 years old, I feel aged. As I navigate through one of the most pivotal periods of my life, I am humbly reminded that nothing will stay the same forever. I will not get into any more cliches, but I will say this:
Over 120 years ago, Prospect Valley Elementary School started its motion to provide education for kids in a wooden, single-classroom facility. Since then, four schools have been built in various locations within the Wheat Ridge area. Most notably, the school built in 1967 (demolished in 2023) has been recognized on numerous occasions for its architectural excellence. Recently recovered scrapbooks from the late 1960s-1970s uncovered a news article highlighting the fact that Prospect Valley was selected to be included in an exhibition taking place across four cities in Poland-Katowice, Wroclaw, Poznan, and Warsaw. The exhibition included 73 other buildings, displaying American architecture ranging from community facilities to private homes. The scrapbook also revealed a letter stating that Prospect Valley was selected as the “Nations School of the Month” for July 1968. In addition to the architectural achievements, the scrapbook contained two letters from the White House, one signed by President Ford and the other by President Nixon. It is safe to say that the $620,000 school built in 1967 received the recognition it deserved.
The old Prospect Valley Elementary School building is now no more than a pile of rubble but is still home to 55 years’ worth of cherished memories and will be missed. The future of the new school is also to be looked forward to, as the $20 million project will be home to many more years of education and fond memories.