History of Huskies
Before there were Huskies
Way back before the 1960s, when Battle Mountain High School didn’t exist, there were two smaller high schools that served upvalley kids. Minturn High School in Minturn wore purple and white and called themselves the Panthers. The Red Cliff Union High School Bulldogs donned red and white. Then it all changed in the fall of 1959.
“We consolidated my freshman year,” says Minturn resident Judy Pena. Pena graduated in 1963 and, ironically, is currently working as the head secretary for Battle Mountain High School. Pena said the kids got together and voted on a name for the new high school.
“It was between Red Mountain High, Mackey High (Mackey was the principal at the time) and Battle Mountain High,” Pena says.
Then the students picked school colors. On the ballot were the combinations of blue and gold; blue and white; green and white; and the chosen black and gold. As far as the mascot, Pena says, “Everyone liked “Huskies.'”
The first class to graduate from the new Battle Mountain High School in Red Cliff was the class of 1960. A few years later, Battle Mountain High School, its staff and students were at Maloit Park in Minturn.
Eagle County voters passed a bond issue in the early 1970s, which approved the building of two new high schools – one in Eagle-Vail and one in Gypsum. The current Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley high schools were the result, and in the fall of 1975, students moved to those locations.
Surprisingly, the Battle Mountain name, mascot and colors remained the same.
Eagle resident Larry Arguello moved into that new building his junior year. Arguello – a 1978 Battle Mountain grad – remembers that although it was a little weird to be in a new location, the building was nice.
“We were excited to have a new school. The old one was falling apart,” says Arguello.
The old school served kids in grades seven through 12, as did most of the schools then. With the new location came a new concept, a school for grades nine through 12 only, with a separate building for junior high.
Many Battle Mountain graduates currently live in the valley and are now raising their kids in Eagle County. Roby and Susan (Ortiz) Forsyth graduated from Battle Mountain in 1981 and 1982 respectively. They married in the summer of 1982 and stayed. Susan is now a teacher at Eagle Valley Elementary and their children Clayton and Summer attend Eagle Valley High School.
“Battle Mountain has some of the same teachers that I had when I attended, but it’s also grown and changed a lot,” Susan Roby said.
Stephanie Ward – 1987 graduate and 1986 Homecoming Queen of the school – agrees. Ward now teaches ESL (english as a second language) at Battle Mountain.
“The first day was a little different, but now it’s great,” says Ward, who comes from two years at Eagle Valley Middle School and loves her new assignment.
“I came back here because I missed the mountains and the community,” says Ward. Her boyfriend, 1987 Battle Mountain graduate Ted Archibeque, also came back to the community after leaving. He missed the great hunting.
Archibeque currently works for Eagle County as an engineer. He and his brother, Tom – a 1984 graduate – were great wrestlers at the school, both earning state championships.
Change through the years
Pat Phelan has taught for 31 years at Battle Mountain and he says the changes that have occurred at the school are reflective of the valley. In 1973, the total school population was 180 students. It grew gradually until 1994, when the population started doubling each year.
“I used to know every kid and their families well,” says Phelan. “Now I’m working on knowing everyone’s name.”
The first change for Battle Mountain came in 1980 when the mine closed. Before that, about 85 percent of the students were hispanic and only about 15 percent were actually from the town of Vail. When the mine shut down, that changed to about 90 percent white.
“We had one extreme to the other,” Phelan says. N
ow, the school has about a 33 percent Hispanic population – which looks very different from the past.
“The recent immigration from Mexico has boosted that population, but it’s a different culture than what we had before,” says Phelan.
Battle Mountain now has 684 students and offers many new activities, classes and sports as well as the original offerings. To learn about programs at Battle Mountain or for more information on the school, call 328-2930.