History Happens Here: SMES gets a new sign

(File photo)

(Photo by Arianna Grainey, Independent Newspapers)

History oftentimes is forgotten as time passes. This weekly series will feature old photographs from the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent’s archives, held up in the exact place that they were originally taken, in the style of Dear Photograph.

This week’s image ran in the Feb. 11-17, 1986, edition on page 11.

The original caption reads: “NEW SIGN. The maintenance crew from Apache Junction Schools recently installed a new school name sign at Superstition Mountain Elementary School. The 7-foot-by-3-foot granite marker weights 1,700 pounds and bears the name and mascot of the school.”

Superstition Mountain Elementary School was built in 1953, according to Sally Marks, public information officer for the Apache Junction Unified School District.

“SMES was the first school built in AJ,” she said in an e-mail.

The school was in use until May 21, 2015, according to a previous article written by the Independent.

The school was shut down as a cost-saving measure by the district.

The school had an enrollment of 584 in the 2014-15 school year, Ms. Marks said.

The school building is being used by the Little Prospectors Preschool and Zao Theatre.

“(We use) half of a pod, so like four classrooms,” Danielle Reynolds, owner of Little Prospectors said.

They started renting the classrooms in July 2016, Ms. Reynolds said.

“The Little Prospectors was established 24 years ago,” Ms. Reynolds said. “Sept. of ‘93.”

The Little Prospector, Ms. Reynolds said, is part of Lucy Young’s legacy.

“She’d been on the school board for 20 years, Friends of Apache Junction board up until she died,” she said. “The only reason my sister and I are owners is because she’s my mom.”

The average cost of attending is $155 a week, she said.

Zao Theatre and Centerstage Church also rent a portion of the school building.

“Centerstage Church, our parent organization, rents all the buildings except one and the theatre uses five or six rooms in the facility depending on the production,” Administrative director Sharyn Sheffer said.

The theater usually puts on three shows a year but this year is putting on four, she said.

Want to help with this project? If you have any old photographs that would be interesting to recreate in this way, e-mail them to agrainey@newszap.com for consideration. Include any information that you have about the photo subject and content. Are you on Instagram? Follow this project on Instagram @history_happens_ here_az.

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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