MARY BLAIR MARKS 50TH, FINAL YEAR
Current and former teachers, students, parents, administrators and staff gathered at Mary Blair Elementary School Thursday night to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.
Mixed with the reminiscing and reunions of teachers meeting former students and old friends seeing each other once again was the knowledge that this would be the last such event in the school’s history, as Mary Blair will close after this school year comes to an end.
“It’s a little bittersweet, in all honesty,” said Valerie Larablack, who has served as principal of Mary Blair Elementary for 11 years. “But it’s joyful. Getting to share memories with people I’ve never met before who have different memories of the same place.”
Mary Blair, along with Monroe Elementary School and Conrad Ball Middle School, will have its students consolidated into a new facility located at what is now Conrad Ball, Peakview Academy at Conrad Ball, a new Prek-8 facility.
Conrad Ball Middle School is currently undergoing significant renovations and an expansion to convert it into the new school, and will open this fall at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.
Mary Blair will then be converted into a community center operated by the YMCA that will continue to be owned by the school district, while Monroe Elementary has been slated for sale to Denver-based real estate firm United Properties for $6 million.
Mary Blair and Monroe elementary schools and Conrad Ball Middle School were all identified as having low enrollment, and the cost to operate three schools versus a consolidated one led district staff and school board members to approve the plan in 2021.
Lara-black, who will serve as the principal of Peakview Academy when it opens next year, said that the anniversary served as an opportunity for community members, many of whom have not set foot in the building in years, to say goodbye.
“It’s just so coincidental
that the 50th anniversary happens the year that we’re closing,” she said. “It’s serendipitous…the staff who were here before have been waiting for this as a chance to say goodbye.”
Melanie Mckinley, who attended the school in the early 90s, recalled memories including holiday concerts and the “great molasses spill,” when she had to miss school because a leaky tank at a nearby plant had poured 528,000 gallons of
molasses through the city’s streets.
Her father, Greg Sheets, attended Conrad Ball Middle School in the 1970s, and remembers when Mary Blair was first constructed. He admitted to mourning the school, as well as the small town feel that existed when it was first constructed.
“Loveland’s still full of great people, but it’s not the way it was, it’s not the small town I remember,” Sheets said. “But I can’t do anything about that, I get it.”
As for the school itself, he’s philosophical.
“I guess it feels inevitable,” he said. “I have to say I don’t like the changes because that’s my personality. Conrad Ball, I was driving by the other day, and it’s selfish of me, but I was like, ‘Aw man, that too?’ The good thing is there’s still a lot of really good people, and I guess that’s all you can ask for.”