‘It’s been a good ride’ – last original Coronado High teacher retires this year
He is the last of the original Coronado High teachers from 1970. He's left the school twice since then, coming back both times.
But Steve Cervi is retiring after this year, so there won't be a third return - except perhaps at some point as the football and track announcer at Gary Berry Stadium, where in the past 15 years he's come to be known as “the voice.”
In a recent interview, Cervi looked back on a diverse education career that's found him at different times a principal, athletic director, business manager, English teacher, coach and yearbook/newspaper advisor.
For good measure, he put in three non-education years, working as the administrative manager for a CPA firm. And, in keeping with his love of sports, for many years he moonlighted as a basketball referee and volunteered with the Colorado High School Activities Association “in about every capacity there is.”
Some of his favorite memories are from his first year with Coronado. Cervi had just graduated from Adams State College. District 11 officials had planned to open Coronado at the start of the 1970-71 school year, but construction delays forced an interim solution in which CHS students went to split sessions at Palmer High School for the first couple of months. Referring to the current auditorium project that was delayed until August, Cervi chuckled, “I've been telling my students that I came in with construction, and I'm going out with construction.”
Palmer was not just a convenient location at that time; it was the high school that most Coronado students were drawn from. “Basically, the Westside was the Palmer attendance area until Coronado was built,” Cervi said, “because there wasn't a Westside high school then.”
Westside-residing seniors who had been going to Palmer had the option of graduating with either the Palmer or Coronado 1971 class; 89 chose Coronado. “Literally, that first year, we had brothers playing brothers in football,” Cervi said.
To smooth the path during the split-session weeks, Palmer and Coronado students joined up to publish a one-edition newspaper called the Coalition, which was carefully measured down to the inch to be sure that both schools were equally represented. Cervi remembers that time well. Having been editor of the Adams State newspaper the year before, his first year as a teacher found him as Coronado's first newspaper advisor.
He would later lead the students in creating a newspaper of their own, initially given the flourishing title of the Writ of the Conqueror - named by students who at the time revered the 16th century Spanish explorer, Francisco Coronado, after whom the school was named. (Within a year or two, it was renamed the Communique.)
Once Coronado finally managed to get its doors open (Cervi isn't positive whether it was late October or early November 1970), it started a honeymoon with the Westside that lasted several years.
“That was the excitement,” he said. “It was a brand-new school, with new colors and a new logo, and everything we did was the first thing. I truly remember the way it was embraced by the Westside.”
A clear indication was the turnout for sporting events. “People supported Coronado bigtime,” Cervi said. “The gym had to be remodeled within five years. The capacity was 940 at first, and we filled every game.”
The expansion increased the seating to a maximum of about 2,000. A subtle sign of that project can still be seen on the gym floor, Cervi pointed out. Normally a court's grain goes in the direction of its length. At Coronado, it's crossways; that's because the court was originally aligned east-west, instead of the current north- south.
The early campus had spaces between the buildings, allowing majestic views of Pikes Peak from the courtyard. But various additions over the years, as the school has grown, have filled all that in. Now, a view of the Peak is hard to come by on the Coronado campus. One of the few is from Cervi's second-floor classroom on the west side of the building. Asked who's going to get his room when he's gone, Cervi laughed that other teachers are “already fighting over it.”
Cervi stayed at CHS for its first 10 years, serving chiefly as an English teacher, with side activities all or part of the time including newspaper, yearbook, business manager, basketball (volunteer assistant coach) and serving as announcer for school sports events. The CPA job was from 1980 to '83, after which, in a return to education, he became principal of the Corpus Christi Catholic school. This lasted until 1986, when he returned to Coronado for another two years, during which he was also head baseball coach.
There followed a four-year span at Mitchell High School, which found him still teaching English but also taking on the roles of athletic director, business manager and school sports announcer (the same as at Coronado)
It was in the early '90s that he became the Gary Berry public-address announcer for high school sports events there.
By that time, he'd already been involved for years with the Colorado High School Activities Association - an often-thankless participation that sometimes meant just making sure high school sports events took place. He recalled one time when special volleyball sports courts had not been delivered until late the night before a major competition at the Denver Coliseum. Cervi and others stayed up much of the night getting them set up. Few people realized how near those games came to never being played at all, he noted.
Cervi returned to Coronado for the third and last time in 1994. Why did he keep coming back to the Westside school on the hill? “It's always felt like home,” he said.
But now, with his retirement, the man who's been so willing to step in and help out in different ways is looking forward to a lengthy break. “I'm taking one year totally away,” he said. “My wife and I are going to travel, and I'm going to start looking at other issues.”
He won't even let himself be talked into announcing at Gary Berry next fall.
How about the year after? “Maybe I'll come back and maybe I won't,” he said. “Or maybe I'll just fill in.”
But Cervi admitted it won't be that easy to leave it all behind. “I'm going to miss the people,” he said. “the Westside and Coronado have a special group of people. I believe they care for each other and help each other out. I've always felt Coronado was special because it's on the Westside. It had that community spirit thing.”
Of his career in general, he summarized, “I've had a lot of fun. It's been a good ride.”
Westside Pioneer article