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Architectural Classic Should Be Preserved

Unpublished correction: Lewis and Clark High School opened in 1912.

Tear down Lewis and Clark High School? That’s absurd! Rumors of destroying the historic structure and building a new, modern high school have circulated throughout Spokane for years. Generations of LC graduate and current students protest the destruction of our school.

LC is a city landmark known for its beauty and history. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, LC attracts a student population that is culturally diverse. The location also enables students to learn responsibility and enjoy the benefits of an open campus.

Constructed in 1915 after South Central High School burned to the ground, architects designed LC sparing no expense. Perched atop the three-story, Gothic building, gargoyles guard the school’s entrance. Intricate brick work covers the facade of the building; inside, hallways, staircases and bathrooms are made of polished marble. A cornerstone placed by former President Theodore Roosevelt adds to the history.

Classrooms were purposefully positioned on the periphery of the structure, leaving the center area for a beautiful auditorium. Its ceiling height measures two stories and the house seats over 1,500 people. Portraits of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are accompanied by others throughout the school.

The LC community takes pride in the school’s diversity. Its central location attracts students from various ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds. LC students learn to respect and appreciate different traditions and viewpoints. Such diversity provides a broader perspective of what the “real world” is like.

Students are allowed to leave campus during the lunch hour to eat at restaurants. Giving students the freedom to leave campus helps teach responsibility. Students who abuse the privilege face consequences.

Critics argue that the campus does not accommodate student needs. The PE field is four blocks away and walking to the field wastes precious class time.

But teachers have integrated walking into physical education. The time it takes to reach the field replaces warm-ups and cool-downs for activities.

Critics are also concerned about the noise and proximity of the freeway to the school. But during school, the freeway is rarely, if ever, noticed by the students and faculty.

There is no doubt the school could use repairs. Like any old building, heaters break and windows crack. However, the need for repairs is not justification to tear down one of Spokane’s historical landmarks. Like loved ones who become more cherished with age, LC has aged with love.

Editor’s note: A committee formed by the Spokane School District has recommended the district look into remodeling the current LC rather than building another school.

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