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A Walk Through Time

Note:  This article was the result of a combined effort of Mr. Kowalczyk's sixth period Social Studies students here at Safford back in 1983.  It is truly one of our school's historical gems!


     The year 1918 saw World War 1 drawing to a close.  Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States and the League of Nations was on the verge of being formed.  If you were to pick up a newspaper you might see stories like "China and Japan Invade Siberia" or "Starving Austrians Turn to Cannibalism."  The year 1918 also saw Safford Junior High School open its doors for the first time.           

     Safford Junior High has been through many years and many names.    

     In 1888, Plaza school was built for Tucson School District One as a high school on the spot where Safford now stands as "Old Adobe" and "Little Adobe High."  In 1904 Plaza school was officially renamed Safford school, after ex-governor A.P.K. Safford, whose picture still hangs in the lobby of the school.

     In 1917, a bond election was passed for $100,000  to build Safford Junior High at the corner of 5th Ave. and 13th St.  The contract for building Safford was awarded to W.H. Young at the cost of $102,910.  The school was completed and accepted by the school board on June 28, 1918.

     Originally, the school was to have had 26 rooms, and an unheard of feature, a swimming pool.  Newspapers wrote articles criticizing the idea of the idea of a pool and the idea was quickly dropped.  They also found a reason to eliminate the boys' showers.

     Safford Junior High was a very strong school, but eventually needed some renovations.  In 1953, the Harold Ashton Company was awarded $32,623 to repair and modernize the entire school.  It was also remodeled in 1956.  Showers and locker rooms were installed by Craved Hague Construction Company.  In 1961 classrooms were remodeled at the cost of $5,908.  The latest remodeling occurred in 1982.  The ceilings were lowered, the lockers were painted, a new insulated water boiler was installed, and the whole school was insulated, all at the cost of $1.5 million.

     Safford Magnet Junior High School is an historical building which shouldn't be torn down and must always be occupied.  Safford celebrated its 85th birthday in 2003!

     A.P.K. Safford was born in Hyde Park, Vermont February 14, 1830.  His real name was Anson Peacely Killen Safford.  When Safford was only eight years old his parents moved to Crete, Illinois.  The schools weren't very organized at the time, so means of education were extremely limited.  He had only the advantages of the very common public schools there.  His parents were poor and he was obligated to help them with all the labor he could perform on a farm.

     When he was twenty years old, he left home and crossed the plains to search for gold in California.  Six years later he was elected to the California state legislature and was re-elected in 1858.

     He fought hostile Indians in Nevada, and upon his return in 1867 from a two year period spent in Europe, he received an appointment from President Johnson as Surveyor General of Nevada.  He held that position until his appointment as governor of the Arizona Territory.

     In 1869, he reached Tucson (the capital of the Arizona Territory) on the 20th of July, and at once entered upon his duties as governor.

     As governor, Safford was responsible for establishing the public school system in Arizona.  Because of this, he is known as "the father of public education" in Arizona.

     P.K. Safford is reported to have left Tucson shortly after retiring as governor in 1875.  He returned in 1881 to marry Soledad Bonillas, the sister of Ymgeio Bonillas.  After living two years in Philadelphia and New York, he became interested in Florida land, and with others, purchased a large piece of land.  He was instrumental in founding the city of Tarpon Springs.  Safford later died in Tarpon Springs on Dec. 15, 1891.

     When not engaged in executive duties in his office, he was leading prospecting parties into mining regions, leading armed parties after hostile Indians, traveling from county to county giving cheerful words to the struggling pioneers in stock raising, farming, and mining.  In this way, he traveled thousands of miles on his own expense with no one other than his shotgun.

     One of Safford's outstanding alumnus and teachers was Ida Flood Dodge, a well-known and respected woman.  She was born in California, but raised in Arizona.  She was a teacher and principal at Safford Elementary and other schools for many years.

     Ida Flood was an author and a poet.  She wrote more poems about Arizona than any other kind of poem, as well as more books on Arizona as on any other subject.

     Ida was a teacher at Safford for 33 years and she was a major force in changing the name of the Old Plaza School to Safford.

     Ida Flood Dodge died April 7, 1969.  She did all that she could to help Safford.  Ida was loved and respected by all of the people that knew her.

     Another alumnus of Safford is city councilman Roy Laos.  "I went there for seventh and eighth grade," Mr. Laos said.  "I lived only four blocks away and I walked to school.  My parents still live there."

     "One of my best memories at Safford was a shop that served only vanilla ice cream.  It was soft, sweet, and cold."

     "I have to say that Safford was charming.  It had class, character, and lots of nooks and crannies.  It was all very neat."

     In 1981 Safford Junior High became a Magnet School because the district was guilty of segregating minorities.

     There were three families who wanted Safford to become a magnet school.  They wanted to mix different races together in one school so they could learn from each other.

     The magnet program works in many ways.  In one way it brings different cultures together.  Bringing people together helps them learn about each other and accept each others differences.

     People think that Safford Junior High is special because the school has always had special advanced after school activities.  Back in 1983, Safford had ten Apple IIs, five TRS-80s, and two Gigis computers. There were also classes in Folklorico and jazz dancing, as well as typing.  These classes were offered before and after school.

     It is hoped the magnet program will last well into the future.  The school wants to continue to attract more students and continue as it has, Safford Magnet Junior High School is a school of the past, a school of the present, and a school of the future.


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