Preserving Creek’s legacy with restoration of photos

Preserving Creeks legacy with restoration of photos

Lisa Nhan, Managing Editor

UPDATE September 2015: Some photos have been restored and hung on the walls of Creek. Funding is still needed and appreciated. Please think about helping us restore and preserve history.

Hidden in the attics of Creek were forgotten stories from over a fifty year period. Some mold covered, some with worn down edges, some wrinkled from water damage; these stories once lined the hallways of Creek. This past summer it was brought to light that dozens of old class photos of past seniors had been hidden and tucked away for years. After realizing the importance these photos had to the school, the school began to plan a way to give these photos and alumni chance to be seen again. This launched the Photo Restoration Project; in order to help find a way to bring back some of Creek’s rich history for all to see.

Mrs. Cathy Donahoe, head secretary to Principal Jamey Majewski, was first told about the pictures by a former alumni, and when she saw the pictures for the first time she “knew immediately [she] wanted to help save them.”

“Look at them. Look at all of that history. We cannot not share that. It gives the students that are here, especially the ones that have family members that graduated, how Creek got to be where it is today. It shows the times, the dress. It’s just amazing to go back and look at all of that history,” Donahoe said.

The class pictures start from the first graduating class of Creek, 1957, until 2002, when the tradition of class photos stopped. However, some years are still hidden away unable to be found. There are four missing years in total: 1960, 1985, 1996 and 2001. After finding the photos, Creek had decided to bring back the senior class panoramic photos.

This restoration project will be funded by donations. Alumni have been sent letters detailing the plan and urging them to make donations to help achieve the renewal of these photos and the stories that come with them.

“If they’re a former student, I would want them to donate because it’s preserving their own history, their own legacy. Every student that comes through here leaves that mark. They can show that they left that mark with those class pictures. Your kids and your grandkids will be able to see what they left behind here,” Mr. Majewski said.

In a letter sent to past alumni asking for help, it was mentioned that quotes have varied between $7,000 to $32,0000 to restore all of the photos. These quotes are coming from the Upper Bay Frame Gallery, a local business is the one Creek plans to work with to bring the pictures back. Currently, the administration is planning to set their sites at $7,000 and just work from there. Once finished, the photos will be hung up in the school for everyone to see. Many were handmade with hand written names. Some will have to receive new glass and frames depending on the shape, but the goal is to preserve them as much as possible.

“The aging makes it perfect. It’s part of the photos. It’s part of the history. We want to keep most of the original as possible,” Donahoe said.

The photos used to be hung in the Auditorium foyer and down the halls from the gym, according to Donahoe. Once the first decade is complete, the pictures will be hung down the hallways between the auxiliary cafeteria and the C pod hallway. Other possible places include the hallways by the D and E 100’s.

As the storage was rearranged to accommodate the portables that were being torn down this summer, the pictures seeen for the first time by Mrs. Donahoe after hearing about it previously from an alumni. She decided to bring all the photos into the offices of Creek and keep them there until all of them could be restored.

However, the search for these photos began prior to the summer. For Alumni Duane Young, class of 1964, these photos and the restoration of them has long been a goal he wanted to see achieved. As a self proclaimed “history buff” and long time community member, Clear Creek and its history has meant a lot to Young.

After graduating, Young began working at the post office. One day he was asked to come back to speak about his job at a career fair. It was then that Young first saw his class photo hanging in the halls. When Young asked about the photos again some 20 years later during his first class reunion, he was told it was above the custodial office. There he saw part of the collection, but to his disappointment, it wasn’t in its original state.

“Pictures were falling off the frames. The glass was broken. Some people had been walking on the pictures themselves. It broke my heart to see what kind of conditions these photos were in, that this part of history could be lost if someone didn’t try to fix it,” Young said.

He then searched all around for his class picture and was not able to find it. Now working for CCISD as part of the maintenance, he told his fellow co-workers that if anyone came across the photos to inform him. Eventually around two years ago, one of Young’s co-workers and nephew stumbled across them while working on the AC in the attic of the school. Young went up to take his own photos to have it restored using money from his own pocket. He informed Donahoe of their existence, hoping that something could be done to save the others.

“It’s important in my heart. It’s important to me. I have enjoyed being a part of a school that I graduated from. I know a lot of people who have been Creek alumni through out the years. This is part of our history. I worry about if I haven’t brought it up since, that they might still be up there. I have been looking around for these suckers for a while,” Young said.

Since then Young has borrowed his class pictures along with a few others to class reunions to share with his old classmates memories of the past. Young is among of the many alumni who have been happy to see the photos brought back out again.

“It was really great to see the photos. It brought back memories, and I was surprised how much I remembered like the head counselor and other staff members who were here while I was a student,” Mrs. Paula Radicioni, class of 1962, said.

The Yearbook staff currently has a team of students working to repair the 1970 class picture. In order to achieve this, they have been working even before school started to identify all the missing pieces and find ways to put them back together. The process is “really time consuming because it’s all about little details,” according to Raynie Leard, senior. Yearbook advisor, Mrs. Jan O’Neil, saw it as a chance to show her kids the “real world applications of what they’re learning in Yearbook and how that can translate into a lot more than just putting together the Yearbook.”

“There have been a lot of times I looked at them and wondered what they did or what they were involved in high school, where they are now, and how they react now seeing this,” Bayley Tamblyn said.

For others, it was a surprise to see the difference in students and lifestyles that have occurred over the years.

“Seeing it makes me wonder how it used to be at school. They must have taken hours on their hair. Looking at them now, they just look so sophisticated compared to us,” Amber Griffith, junior, said.

Working on the project has caused the students to evaluate how their legacy will be a part of Creek’s history.

“It’s something that can last for generations. It’s a good piece of memorabilia. It’s nice to know that Creek still wants to honors those who graduate, even all those years ago. It makes me wonder how we’ll be remembered or if someone will ever be redoing our class pictures,” Tamblyn said.

The restoration project goes beyond just fixing some old photos. Behind each photo is a story of a past Wildcat, someone who walked the same halls and across the same courtyard. It’s a chance to continue the legacies of many before us and perhaps many after.

“It’s important because people aren’t going to be around anymore. They won’t always be there to talk about their lives. It’s important to know what Creek was doing at a time, how traditions have changes, how we’re grown as a school, how the kids have changed, and maybe how the kids haven’t changed that much at all,” O’Neil said.

To see more pictures of what the class photos look like, visit the school website Donations can be mailed to the school or delivered in person with checks made out to the CCHS Photo Restoration Project.