Jefferson Middle School celebrating 80 years, still teaching in original building

Education

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A longtime Albuquerque school is celebrating 80 years of serving local kids. Still in their original building, staff, students, and alumni are honoring the school’s history.

Jefferson Middle School — originally Jefferson Junior High — was built back in 1939 near Girard and Lomas. Just over 80 years later, their students are still learning in the original building and the school says this is only the beginning.

Take a walk down the halls of Jefferson Middle School and you can see little tidbits of its 80-year history. From the main building’s original architecture built in 1939 to the numbers on each classroom door, Jefferson’s principal, Monica Olmsted, says the school’s history is ever-present.

“We are the oldest middle school still using its original building. The gym is the original gym,” said Olmsted. “I think it’s just something you automatically feel when you walk into the building. We have old yearbooks displayed in the front cabinet when students walk in, so we try to incorporate it as much as we can.”

Steven Kaestner teaches 7th and 8th-grade science. However, this isn’t his first stint with the school.

“I was a student back in the 1970s when we were still a junior high,” said Kaestner. “Now, we’re a middle school.”

He says he came back to create a better environment for students and has enjoyed the changes along the way.

“Our square footage has probably tripled since the school was built in 1939, so I’ve seen some physical changes,” said Kaestner.

Beyond the walls and campus, Olmsted says some of the best stories are still alive in the community — even the pranks.

“I bought a car last summer and I started talking to the salesman and he said he was one of three young men years ago that took, the principal at the time, they took his VW, lifted it out of the parking lot and put it on the stairs of the school,” said Olmsted.

Over the years, they’ve added buildings and departments like music, drama, and robotics. However, with each new addition, the decades of memories are still there.

“You can just feel the history walking through the hallways,” said Olmsted. “It’s a beautiful thing. It’s really wonderful.”

The original layout in 1939 was around 37,000 square feet. Now, with eight building additions, the campus sits at more than 113,000 square feet.

The school does have an 80th anniversary celebration planned for April 30. It’s unclear now if it will still be held or postponed to a later date.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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