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GSHS considers digitizing class photos

Will Grandbois
will@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs High School principal Paul Freeman holds one of many framed alumni photos currently stored under a stairwell.
Colleen O’Neil / Post Independent |

Glenwood Springs High School may have found a 21st century approach to an old tradition.

Like many small-town schools, GSHS once displayed framed pictures of each graduating class on its walls. When the building was remodeled in the early 1990s, however, many of the photos were lost, while those that remained were beat up in the move to the next addition in 2007. The photos have never been rehung, and several subsequent graduating classes have simply elected not to spend the $1,500 to $1,800 necessary to compile, print and frame a class photo.

Many Glenwood alumni were unaware of the situation until January, when someone posted a photo of the class of 1965 in the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Glenwood Springs When …” Rumors spread that the photos had been thrown away, and many Glenwood grads expressed a desire to see them restored.

Lissa Suazo, a 1985 graduate, formed the GSHS Class Picture Action Group on Facebook, which now has more than 100 members.

“Even though a new school has been built, the graduates that have gone before the current and recent classes should not be thrown in the trash or stored away and forgotten,” Suazo said. “It’s a matter of school pride.”

Rob Paine, class of 1983, agreed.

“I think it’s important for a school to honor their history and their previous graduates,” Paine said. “People that went to high school in Glenwood are pretty proud of being there.”

Principal Paul Freeman denied that any of the class photos had been tossed during his tenure.

“My degree is in history. I don’t throw stuff away,” he said.

The cost of restoring them all, however, was prohibitive.

That’s when Athletic Director Craig Denney suggested TouchWall— a cloud-based touch screen with customizable software billed as a “virtual hall of fame.” Although marketed mostly to athletic programs, the system could easily support a series of class photos in a slideshow or allow users to pull up a specific year. It would also be web-accessible, allowing alums from around the world to check out the gallery online.

“It’s a neat program,” said Denney. “It would be a really great addition.”

Denney encountered the device in December and began looking into it as a way to supplement the school’s increasingly crowded trophy cases. With a price tag around $5,000 for a 42-inch screen, it’s significantly cheaper than physically replacing or refurbishing the old class photos, and solves the issue of limited wall space as well.

Suazo and her fellow action group members seem content with the idea.

“I originally had the idea of hanging framed pictures as they had been hung in the past,” said Suazo. “However, when the digital idea came up, there was no opposition to it.”

The school will still need to rely on the community to make the project a reality.

“Although it seems like a large sum of money, we’re confident that there is enough energy and interest around the idea of a digital system that our community would be able to raise the funds,” said Freeman.

Donations can be dropped off at the school or mailed to 1521 Grand Ave.

Beyond financial support, Suazo is looking for volunteers to scan pictures and ideally someone willing to lend a scanner or a space to work in.

“We need as much public help with the class pictures as we can get,” she said.

Moreover, though the school has some old yearbooks and the group has managed to track down several years’ worth of negatives, there are still numerous gaps in the record.

To contribute photos, volunteer or get more information, email gshsclasspictures@gmail.com.

“We’ll give it our best shot,” said Paine. “Everybody’s been real supportive. I think the school realizes that history in the school means something to a lot of people. It’s just about making sure we don’t forget who came before us.”


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