I graduated from Poky High in 1948, and since we lived close by I had the opportunity to watch the new auditorium and gymnasium being built. I saw both buildings emerge from either nothing or from old gray sandstone to the beautiful yellow brick with very attractive lighter decorative inserts. PHS had the best high school gym in the state and the most elegant auditorium anywhere close. I remember playing basketball at Boise High in a gym that had solid 8 ft. high brick walls on either side of the court just beyond the out of bounds stripe. Woe (whoa?) to any player who approached the side lines running too fast.
Much more recently a second gymnasium was built facing Arthur Avenue; a great job of matching the brick work and the decorative elements. And now we are in need of more upgrades. The upgrades include those needed to provide for the handicapped students, improvements in the cafeteria, an enclosed walkway between the two buildings, and changes to the entry into the main building and the exits out of both buildings.
The world, including Pocatello has changed. Safety and security have become major considerations for educators. Students of all ages, especially high school students, require a safe environment in which they can devote energies to their studies and to growing up to become responsible adults. There is no law, Devine or secular, that protects PHS from the horrors of a school shooting, but making the buildings more safe and secure can markedly decrease the odds. One obvious safety improvement is to have a single, secure entry point and from there access to both buildings without having to go outside. The entries and exits would have to be ADA compliant, and all changes must be up to present day codes.
In reading the Idaho State Journal’s coverage of this upgrade and the ensuing controversy, I have found it rather difficult to understand just what the Historical Preservation Society is objecting to. Is it the walkway joining the two buildings; is it ADA accesses and improvements; is it the single, secure entry facing Arthur Ave; is it a combination of these things, or is it something else altogether, something I have missed. Since “historic preservation” seems to be the bottom line from the objectors, maybe we should go back to the time of gray sandstone with a big pile of coal in back on the Garfield side. That’s historical, and the main building had a single mid-building entry then.
Perhaps the bickering will lead to more modest improvements or maybe there will be long enough delays to engender big increases in the cost. But, all discussion aside, the upgrades have to be done and the sooner the better.