Effort to preserve Las Vegas' first high school

LAS VEGAS - Eighty-seven years ago, it was on the outskirts of town. People complained how far Las Vegas high was from homes.

Today, it's the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in the heart of downtown. Graduates of the old school are worried the historic buildings may be lost.

SLIDESHOWS: Las Vegas High School alumni photos

"Well, I think we have about 31 of them," said Patty Haack.

She knows exactly where she is in an old photo. She was Las Vegas High School class of 1956. It's just one picture in a stack of books full of them.

"These go from 1921."

The room is part of a growing Las Vegas High School archive, compiled for the alumni association. It's a history she and fellow graduate Bruce Langson want to preserve.

"Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat," Langson said.

But many Las Vegas High alumni are worried about those roots. Roots that run deep in Nevada history, not only because of who went there, but because of where they were taught.

"It holds a lot of memories for many people," Haack said.

The school is nearly 90 years old and one of the last original art deco buildings left in the valley.

Today, it holds the Las Vegas Academy for the Arts and needs repairs. Clark County School District is looking for ideas on modernizing the campus.

The concern for those trying to save the old building isn't that it'll be demolished. No one is saying that. It's more that it'll be neglected and forgotten.

"If it's not upgraded to be used, then, who knows?" Haack said.

District officials couldn't comment today.

Next week, it will update the city's historic preservation commission on where things stand. At the same time, commission members urge saving the site.

To ensure the history, continues.

"It seems we would be a transient community without some grounding and some connection to our roots," Langson said.

The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. CCSD has selected three firms to propose concepts for the campus's future.


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