Past Secrets of Ames High


Jonathan Watt and Zoe Mamakos

When you walk through the front doors at Ames High at 8 A.M. and groggily make your way to your first class, you may not take the time to realize where you are. You’re walking in the footsteps of two- even three- generations of Ames High students, each with their own set of quirks and outstanding events that defined their high school experiences. We set out to find some of the things that other generations of Ames High students saw on a daily basis that we may not see today.

At one point, the room to the left as you walk into the library had a purpose. In fact, that room used to be a sacred place where seniors and juniors could socialize and unwind during their free periods and after all their hard classes. It, sadly, left us years ago.

“I do remember it being very loud and teachers always stopping into quiet kids down,” said Mr. Stevens, psychology teacher and former Ames High student. However, during his time, Ames High catered only to tenth through twelfth graders- the sophomores were the outcasts back in Stevens’ graduating year of 1984.

Yearning for such a place to relax now, Stevens wasn’t all that interested in it back then. It was more before his time. The cafeteria and the courtyard were the best places to spend his time and many of his other classmates thought so too.

Current Seniors may remember the last remaining remnant of underclassmen freedom, the courtyard overlooked by the Weights room and Fine Arts wing. Not only did it used to be home to dozens of Freshmen and Sophomores during their lunch period, but it was also once a fun place for recreational activity. Underclassmen would take their lunch outside and sit at one of the many tables while many would play four-square or draw on the pavement with chalk. You could look up and see a few students eating lunch high up on the tree branches, while others walked through the garden which was situated next to the Weights room windows. The garden has since been bulldozed.

Suffice to say, there were a few disadvantages to eating lunch in the courtyard. The wasp infestation was enough to turn away even the bravest of students, and nine times out of ten there was a minor injury resulting from the recreational activities. Before banning access to the courtyard altogether, the administration once attempted to outlaw the use of soccer balls, basketballs, footballs and baseballs in order to curb the rowdiness; many students then simply resorted to using apples and oranges.

Mr. Stevens also has vivid memories of the courtyard. “Even in the winter, the courtyard was sometimes used. If it snowed you could bet that many kids would be sneaking out of the doors build snowmen or do snow angels,” said Stevens. “There may have even been a few students who would use the lunch trays as sleds on the courtyard hill… Okay, that was me! That was a ton of fun!”

Before smoking was as discouraged as it is today, many high schools had incorporated smoking sections where teachers- and sometimes students of legal smoking age- would gather. This concept is extremely hard to grasp in 2018, however, it was a reality not too long ago. That being said, there isn’t much evidence of an official smoking section at AHS.

Mr. Stevens had little to say on the matter. “Years after I graduated, I was told that a few teachers would go down into the boiler room and have a smoke there,” Stevens said. “Remember, those are only rumors!” The boiler room to which he refers is more than likely in the Fine Arts hallway, where very little can be found these days other than a single dusty chair sat in the center of the room.

With all these changes and the new classes beginning to emerge, we reflect on what our high school once had. Each of these things taken out, for better or for worse, are all a part of Ames High history, much like ourselves. With this year’s Seniors moving onto bigger and better things next year, the courtyard will become a distant memory. It is our job as current students of Ames High to appreciate our school and the things we have. Our time here, believe it or not, is shrinking. Whether you’re in your first year of high school or finishing up your very last, we are all ready to leave far too soon. Maybe, once in a while, stop. Look around. Appreciate even the most miniscule of gestures, because one day your most cherished moments of your time at Ames High (although you may not cherish them now) will be distant memories.