Diggers to celebrate  Lead-Deadwood High School building’s 75th birthday

The Lead-Deadwood High School building turns 75 this year, a milestone that will be celebrated in September. There is an Aug. 1 registration deadline and invitation for all community members to attend the birthday bash. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

LEAD — “It’s such a grand building,” said 75th Celebration committee member Lori Aberle.

That said, thousands of students with millions of school-day memories are invited to share in the 75th anniversary of the historic Lead-Deadwood High School building with a weekend-long birthday celebration Sept. 18-19.

“We are celebrating both this outstanding facility that was opened 75 years ago and has stood the test of time, but also it a chance to reflect on decades of memories of the thousands of students and staff who have passed through this school,” said Lead-Deadwood Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Leikvold. “Schools are the centerpiece of a community, and this building is one that has proven to be worthy of the pride of our community.”

The building originally housed Lead High School and was started in November 1939, with construction finished in 1940, the entire project built and paid for by Homestake, with a price tag of $500,000. School children were released from school the day of the move to help with the transfer from the former Central High School building.

“When it was moved from the Central location, it was done because of subsidence from mining, because of its proximity to the Open Cut. It was a Homestake training ground for their employees,” said Lead High School graduate Bill Stone. “Many of them went right there from school. Homestake officials knew if they went there right from school they were going to be well-trained. It’s such a beautiful old building and it’s been so well-maintained. The maintenance on the building has been excellent for 75 years. People driving by notice that building.”

In 1972, Lead High School and Deadwood High School were combined into Lead-Deadwood High School.

“If it hadn’t been for the schools combining, I wouldn’t have met the other friends I’ve made or the best friend I still have,” said Kenette Carlson, 75th celebration committee members.

Birthday celebration committee members Lori Aberle, Dean Peterson, Bill Stone and Deonne Tusha, Gary Linn and Kenette Carlson emphasized that no matter which town a person might hail from, the get-together is meant to be an all-inclusive one, celebrating the heritage, culture, and educational accomplishments and aspirations of the entire area — past, present, and future.

“We’re proud of our school,” Aberle said. “We were proud of it 75 years ago, and we still are today. The alumni of Lead, Lead-Deadwood alumni, past and present, faculty and staff are all invited. Let’s put it this way: anyone who feels a connection with the building is invited.”

“It’s a birthday celebration for the building, but also of our heritage,” Peterson said. “And anyone with a connection to the school today or in the past is invited. We don’t want to leave anyone out or for anyone to feel that they are being excluded.”

Peterson said that when he arrived in Lead to teach several years ago, he was quite captivated by the quality craftsmanship.

“I remember, the first thing I thought when I walked in and saw this building. I said, ‘Wow! This is impressive,’” explained Peterson. “I mean, terrazzo floors and a Steinway grand sitting on the stage, it’s a quality many schools didn’t have back then. That, and how many schools are in the same building 75 years later?”

Organizers are hoping for between 200 and 300 people to attend the event.

A reunion choir and band will perform at the program. Those interested in joining should contact choir director Dean Peterson at dean.peterson@k12.sd.us or band director Mick Dragoo mick.dragoo@k12.sd.us.

A $15 per person registration fee includes all Friday and Saturday’s activities, as well as admission to the Prospector Bowl at 6 p.m., Sept. 19 against St. Thomas More.

Registration fees can be mailed to: LHS 75th Celebration, 404 Sunset, Lead, SD 57754. For more information, call Lori Aberle at 722-3177 or 717-3899. Registration fees are due by Aug. 1.

“It’s a community thing,” Aberle said. “Everyone is invited.”

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