In the main hallway hangs a sizable collage of the school’s legacy of principals. Among them is a picture of a smiling, darker-haired Ken Grein, who now sits on the Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees.
I’d never had the opportunity to chat with Grein beyond the occasional quick interview for a few quotes here and there. But post-interview that day at Sierra Vista, he mentioned he had been a principal there and he joked about himself. We touched briefly on the fact that Sierra Vista’s building was actually a military barracks that had been transported from Stead. Take away the colorful, child-friendly décor and you can, indeed, imagine members of the military marching those halls.
As we stepped outside on our way back to our cars, he proudly pointed to a small lunch table for kids that he, with the assistance of another staff member, had installed during his tenure. The table is lopsided and Grein chuckles about his work, but it’s still there, one of many impacts, I’m sure, he’s made on the school.
There’s something to knowing about the history of buildings or people – what or who they are and how they’ve changed over time. I wouldn’t call myself a history buff nor am I a zealous architecture enthusiast, but I’m curious about those events that occurred before my time and the very places in which they happened. Where we are today, in my mind, is most definitely the result of something that happened in yesteryear. That’s intriguing.
Soon, I hope to devote part of my education reporting to digging deeper into the history of our local schools. Each campus makes a unique difference in the life of each child that attends every day. Every teacher, administrator and facility shapes all youth in some way.
Many of my childhood memories are very visually attuned to the campuses and places I went as a student. I attended both old and new schools growing up in Hawaii and California. I think if I were to go back to my high school, I’d still find some photos of teachers and staff I admired and feared on the walls. I’d find my old locker that I stuffed to capacity with heavy books, which contributed to the slump in my spine today, as I hauled them back and forth from home. I’d sit by the pillar outside the student florist office where I convened with my girlfriends like a ritual for lunch, discussing our Advanced Placement homework, our latest crushes or those boys we despised. Even more sentimental, in a humorous way, I’d walk the same hardwood gym floor where I met my husband, shied away from him in my not-so-stylish red and black gym clothes and resisted his gawky advances toward me.
Later, as editor-in-chief of the university yearbook, the Angelos (Greek for “messenger”), during my undergraduate studies at California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., one of our most important areas of coverage at the time was the construction of a new student union and academic building. The yearbook I worked on documents the entire process from groundbreaking to near completion. It was only after I graduated and returned a year later that I saw for myself the new facility where the class after me got to enjoy its spacious computer labs and lecture halls.
Then, I had an eerie sort of déjà vu in the last few years with the completion of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno as a graduate student. I was there, like before, for the groundbreaking, but stepped in it when it was done as a professional reporter.
It’s so fascinating to know where I’ve placed my footsteps, so have thousands of others before me and with me. Who knows? Maybe someday, someone else will find my footprints, be it in the schools or here in the Sparks Tribune, and take up an interest in history.
Jessica Garcia is a reporter for the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.