Looking for rituals, artifacts and history at Wamsley Elementary in Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Looking for rituals, artifacts and history at Wamsley Elementary in Rifle

Kathi Senor, principal at Wamsley Elementary School, is asking past students, teachers and staff to help her and other school officials compile memories and the history of the 33-year-old school, the oldest in Garfield School District Re-2.
Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram |

For a 32-year-old public school building, Wamsley Elementary in Rifle has held up well.

Now, school Principal Kathi Senor and officials with Garfield School District Re-2 hope to find out some of it’s stories.

“Schools have rituals and artifacts,” Senor said. “We want to find out what those are.”

Senor and Re-2 Director of District-wide Services Theresa Hamilton hope former students, teachers and staff members can provide information to help develop a history of the school, the oldest elementary school in the district.

“There was one parent who said they wanted their child to go to Wamsley because that’s where they went to school,” Senor added, instead of one of the newer elementary schools in the district. “We want to use our different look and our history to our advantage.”

“We’re looking for their favorite memories, their classmates and teachers,” Hamilton said.

The building, named for teacher Cecile Wamsley, was completed in October 1981 and was paid for with Oil Shale Trust Fund money. MCB Architects designed the building and a story in the July 21, 1982, issue of the Rifle Tribune noted it was to be the first of a series of buildings the district planned to build using Oil Shale Trust Fund money. Other buildings included a vocational education/maintenance facility and a new administration/warehouse facility.

The school was supposed to open in August 1981, but it was delayed, so students attended Esma Lewis Elementary for the first few months of the 1981-82 school year. Old photos at the school indicate students were bussed from Esma Lewis to their new school on Nov. 10, 1981.

Hamilton said it’s believed Wamsley opened as a kindergarten through second grade school, with Esma Lewis Elementary housing third through fifth graders, Rifle Middle School sixth through eighth and Rifle High School seventh through 12th. Today, Wamsley is a kindergarten through fourth grade school, she said, with an enrollment of just under 300 students.

And Wamsley is in good shape, considering the hundreds and hundreds of children that have roamed it’s halls, sat in it’s desks and learned their ABCs.

“We may do some painting and minor remodeling work this summer,” Senor said.

Senor and Hamilton plan to mount any old photos or other items on the walls of the vestibule by the front doors of the school.

In the Tribune story, Wamsley was noted for its solar energy systems that helped the district cut heating costs by 20 percent in its first year, compared to the previous winter in other district buildings.

Senor said anyone with old photos, written notes or other articles can drop them off at the school, 225 E. 30th St.

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