February 2012


Smiley Middle School versus Gove Middle School, 26 years later.

Spring 1986 was an exciting time for me: in that era, middle schools in Denver offered 7th and 8th grade, and as I and my fellow Park Hill Elementary School 6th grade classmates were preparing for Continuation, we were also preparing for middle school.

Students attending Park Hill Elementary School back then were divided up between those moving on to William H. Smiley Middle School and Gove Middle School – between a historic brick building that (occasionally) lay under the landing approach for one of Stapleton International Airport’s runways and a new, modern, fancy school that was equipped with everything one could want.

I was assigned to Smiley Middle School – the historic brick building where teachers knew how to talk, briefly pause while a plane passed overhead, and then continue.

Smiley Middle School

Smiley Middle School

To add insult to injury, the Gove Middle School students taunted those of us going to Smiley with a question that is (and was) particularly biting to naïve 12-year-olds:

Our middle school has air conditioning, does Smiley?

I suppose that to my 12-year-old self, the answer to that question was demoralizing.

However, it’s now 2012: I work in a Berlin office that doesn’t have air conditioning and Stapleton International Airport is history.

And the difference between Smiley Middle School and Gove Middle School is even more striking: Gove Middle School is a pile of rubble.

Gove Middle School

Gove Middle School - Excellence in Education

Gove Middle School

Gove Middle School - Invest in Air Conditioning.

3 comments to Smiley Middle School versus Gove Middle School, 26 years later.

  • OK, so why did the newer school end up in a scrap heap?

    The story continues…

    • I have no idea why the school closed — but it was purchased by a nearby major health care research organization, which needed the space. It’s either going to be turned into a parking lot or into a research facility, but I don’t know for sure.

  • Mateo

    My elementary and middle schools are both gone now. Time marches on!