30 Years of Natrona County High School History in Danger [PHOTOS]
Whether you’re currently in high school, or a proud alumnus – every high school generally has one thing in common: Tradition. From school songs and colors, to mascots and statues, to trophy cases showcasing the spoils of various victories over the years – everyone that’s spent any time walking the hallowed halls of whatever their particular alma mater may be generally has a sense of pride, and strong memories of their old school. That’s certainly the case for most current and former students of Natrona County High School here in Casper – and these days, several of them feel like a portion of their traditions and memories are about to be lost forever, in the name of progress.
Anyone who’s ever spent time in the basement of NCHS has undoubtedly seen the various murals and paintings from classes over several years. According to a new Facebook page, “Natrona County High School, Save The Murals” – student art and murals on the walls of NCHS are a tradition that goes all the way back to the 1920’s. Due to renovations over the years, the only murals left start in 1983 – and it’s become tradition (and even a portion of their grade) for art classes to add to them. The murals, which span three decades, and 563 individual paintings, are like a time capsule of sorts – demonstrating current events of that particular year, memorials to deceased classmates, commemorating the “Casper High” period where NCHS and Kelly Walsh were temporarily combined, and much, much more.
Currently, the school is in the early stages of planning and design for a remodel – which is a fact of life for old buildings trying to serve current and changing needs of Casper students. Part of that remodel would call for the walls containing the murals to be torn down – which would wipe out over 30 years of memories and tradition.
Through Facebook, like-minded present and former students – and even students from other high schools in Casper – are coming together to voice their support for preserving those Mustang memories.
Casper’s Margo Perry posts, “Most schools have nothing for alumni to visit and reconnect with. There is no sense of ‘going home’. NCHS, through the amazing historical wall art, has something to provoke memories and connections for every student over the past 30 years. That is VERY special and worth preserving. It tells the current students that they, too, are part of a greater whole that will continue beyond graduation.”
NC alumnus Adam Kennedy adds, “I grew up with the pictures featured in the west cafeteria my whole life – they inspired me to draw, and I eventually got to be able to contribute to this tradition in my own way. If the paintings disappear I will be disappointed in NC’s long standing ability to uphold dear traditions”.
While some of the Facebook page’s members are expressing emotions bordering on outrage, and standing firm that the walls and murals shouldn’t be touched under any circumstances – several are taking a stance geared more towards compromise and forward progress.
Steven Greenlee posts, “If they are intent on tearing down this part of the building, they should make sure they are all preserved in high resolution photos and HD video for use in books, video walls, wall coverings, etc. – and then take apart and sell/auction pieces of the painted cinder blocks (a la Berlin wall style) to raise money for the NCHS art department – I’m sure there are people (who) would buy pieces of the murals as a piece of history/memorabilia/art…”
NCHS Principal Dean Kelly seems to echo that sentiment – in a recent interview with K2 TV, he mentioned that he has “a keen interest in keeping these murals alive – maybe in a different media, maybe in a different place. But they will always be a part of our building.”
Browse a photo gallery of the murals below, see memories from the last three decades via the eyes of talented NCHS art students, and post a comment – what do you think should happen to the murals?