GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. — It won’t be long before a chapter of Continental
community history is obscured by school improvements, but students are working
to preserve its past.
They’re collecting it in every way possible — interviewing longtimers, writing
historical plays and creating a mural depicting life in the old days.
Continental School opened nearly 100 years ago for children whose parents
worked for Intercontinental Rubber Co. After World War I ended and the demand
for rubber diminished, Continental Farm eventually settled on growing cotton.
Time and new owner Keith Walden converted it to pecan groves, a venture still
With just one campus and 550 students, Continental Elementary School District
is now among Arizona’s smallest. In the mid-1920s, it drew more students than
many, even neighboring Sahuarita, with 155. Students of Yaqui, Mexican, African
and other descents attended the school, which moved up Whitehouse Canyon in
1973, where it grew in phases through 1998. Now, a bond project is transforming
the campus for the future.
Walden’s son Dick is among several local residents to share details about
growing up in the area. He attended the school and his children have, too.
Others include former school staffer Bea Olivas and Connie Sanchez (Grimaldo),
who lived near the old Continental store and later started Los Ninos del Valle
pre-school, and retired teacher Jean Davis.
The new mural resulted from old pictures and recent interviews as well as oral
histories done by Davis’ eighth-graders in 1985 and stored on tape — a gold
mine, said Catherine Nash, an artist-in-residence supervising the project
through the state arts commission and the school’s Parent Teacher Club.
Students sketched what they’ve learned into vignettes of school life, coloring
them in with vivid exterior paints to withstand extreme weather at the school.
Scenes include early students, family members, farms, Davis and students on a
field trip, and general celebrations, with the Santa Cruz River flowing as a
brilliant blue ribbon throughout.
“It’s like a family tree of this area,” Nash said.
Sixteen feet of mural panels will grace the new library/admin building and
greet visitors to campus, well in time for the school’s centennial celebration
Younger students are studying more basic history and how they fit in with the
community of a classroom and beyond. And the lessons may reach further yet, Nash
said. In researching the school’s past, four historical societies and Canoa
Ranch were consulted. When someone at the historic ranch to the south heard of
the recordings, she thought they might tie in with educational opportunities
With the resources being uncovered, a publication on the school’s history seems
in order, Continental Superintendent Virginia Juettner told the school board
recently. She hopes volunteers will come forth and help make the past part of
Information from: Green Valley News, http://www.gvnews.com