Oh, Please! Say It Ain't So
A spontaneous congregation of then-current and former AHS students, as well as a good many students from Amarillo's three other high schools, gathered and saved many of the trophies, books, and memorabilia from part of the AHS building that was not, at least for a while, endangered by the fire. Before long, fire department officials very correctly determined that the students were putting their lives in jeopardy and ordered everyone out of all parts of the very large building.
The fire, started in the wee hours of a Sunday morning by a malfunctioning boiler, burned for almost a whole day before it could be brought under control. False ceilings, installed during an extensive remodeling of the building in 1963-64 when I was a sophomore, gave the fire a path through the halls and into classrooms that made the presence of the fire hard to detect. By the time the fire was discovered, one side of the building was heavily involved, and finally most of the main building was destroyed.
Some of the peripheral buildings, as well as spaces loaned by several surrounding churches, were used to complete the school year and provide a home for the Golden Sandstorm ("Sandies") until a new facility could be completed in far southwest
When I visit the old downtown site, now a parking lot next to the Amarillo Senior Citizens center, I am still often moved to tears. A lot of my life's early history and that of thousands of other Amarilloans (since 1923) had been made in that beautiful building. And now it's gone forever.
Oh, please! Say it ain't so.
My spouse reminds me that there are
worse ways to lose your school.
AHS has occupied its new location for
35 years. It now consistently receives, at minimum, four out of five stars on
the Texas state high school rating system, and has high participation and
achievement in its International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP)
programs. (Alas, most
In its Sandie Hall of Fame you'll find
Space Shuttle Columbia Commander
As often happens, it appears that disaster has become the mother of later excellence.