40-year reunion for first Coronado senior class that went all the way through

       It's been 40 years since the graduation of the first class to go through all the grades at Coronado High School.
       That 1973 class will celebrate with a reunion July 26-27. There will be a “meet-and-greet” at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post on the 26th (cost is $40) and a barbecue picnic the 27th on the athletic fields (cost is $25).
       Signups are being taken through coronadoco1973reunion.org.

Members of the 1973 Coronado High School yearbook staff pose in a unique (and somewhat precarious) configuration for their own yearbook photo.
From 1973 Coronado High School ‘Recuerdos’ yearbook; courtesy of Neil C. Luehring

       About 360 students graduated with the class. A few have passed on, but many are still in town, according to Neil C. Luehring, a member of the class and one of the event's planners.
       To cover costs, the goal is to attract as many as 100.
       The Class of '73 has been more regular with reunions than some. The group has gotten together every 10 years since their graduation, Luehring said. He credited Kevin Ferguson, who was the class' president, for leading the organizational efforts, while “a core group of us” help out.
       In recent interviews with the Westside Pioneer, Gosch and Luehring shared their early-Coronado memories.
       “I think we felt we were a little special because it was a new school,” Luehring said. “We took a lot of pride in that. We chose a lot of things that are now traditions.”
       “The atmosphere, the way I remember it,” Gosch said, “was more of a neighborhood feel. The majority of us went to elementary school together, then to West or Holmes [both junior highs then], so when we got to Coronado, people knew each other. It wasn't as cliquish.”
       Many of the class members had already experienced the impact of a new school (Holmes, which opened in fall 1968). They'd been together for seventh grade at West, but were split because of the new Holmes attendance area. For example, Luehring remained at West for grades 8-9, while Gosch transferred to Holmes.

In a 1972-73 school-year photo, probably shot from the top of the original Coronado auditorium, the parking lot can be seen as school lets out. Note the large bike rack paralleling Fillmore Street and the open land south of Fillmore (homes fill some of that area now).
From 1973 Coronado High School ‘Recuerdos’ yearbook; courtesy of Neil C. Luehring

       In those days, local high schools were grades 10-12 instead of the present-day 9-12, so Class of '73 students were sophomores in the fall of 1970 when Coronado opened. Until then, Westside kids had always gone to Palmer High. This was true of Luehring's family. “I was the first person in my family not to go to Palmer,” he said. “My parents met there.” But attendance areas were the rule in those days, so to Coronado he went. He didn't mind so much. “I got to go to this beautiful building,” he said. “I still think it's one of the nicer schools around.”
       Gosch had similar thoughts. “It was pretty exciting because it was a new school,” he said.
       The only school choice at that time was given to students from the newly established Coronado attendance area who were scheduled to be Palmer seniors in '71. They could stay at Palmer or go to the new high school (this became even more awkward because Coronado's construction got delayed, so it didn't actually open until November '70).
       In any case, many of those seniors stayed at Palmer, Luehring said, which meant that Coronado's first sports teams came out on the losing end a lot. Luehring remembers that being especially true for the tennis team, on which he played all three years. “That first year, if you went out for the team, you made the team,” he said. “We were terrible. But we hung in there and by the time we were seniors, we were vastly improved and won some of our matches.”
       The school layout was basically the same, but was mostly isolated then on Fillmore Hill, so “there were a lot of buses that ran to it,” Gosch said. The school also had fewer buildings, the parking lot was not as full and the east end of it was still dirt. Football as well as baseball games were played at Spurgeon Field in Memorial Park, he said.
       The cafeteria used to be on the lower level of the administraton building. There was even a student smoking area outside it, Gosch recalled with a chuckle.
       One of the early Coronado traditions - which ended in the early '80s - was a giant bonfire at Homecoming. “We had a classmate who wanted it to be the biggest bonfire in the state,” said Gosch who was on student council. “It was huge. They eventually stopped allowing them. The Fire Department said, 'These are bigger than most structure fires we have.' ”
       As for computers, which are omnipresent at modern high schools, Gosch noted that “the only computer in the school was a terminal hooked into the mainframe of Colorado College.”
       Today Gosch is a construction project manager, while Luehring retired two years ago after 32 years with the Fire Department.
       “I have really good memories of going through Coronado,” Luehring said. Most of his classmates he's only seen in the 10-year increments of the reunions, but that makes it fun. “I look forward to getting together with friends and saying hi.”

Westside Pioneer article