"Love of Learning" - Love in the Archives 2023

Fun Learning: The Old Albuquerque High School


Eldred R. Harrington, 1902-1980, from La Reata, AHS yearbook 1949.

While preparing this piece, I browsed through some of the CSWR's Albuquerque High School (AHS) yearbooks - La Reata, the collections of E. R. Harrington's papers and photographs and a Vertical File, which included some Albuquerque Journal (AJ)and Albuquerque Tribune (AT) clippings about him.  Harrington's photos of students are fascinating and so are the yearbooks.

“Doc” Harrington was a teacher for 46 years at AHS and the Albuquerque Academy.  He held many higher degrees, including a BS and MS in Civil Engineer from UNM.  He was an engineer, chemist, machinist, author, speaker and a piccolo player in a brass band.  Before becoming a teacher, he had labored on a Kansas farm, in a print shop, at the Albuquerque iron foundry and in the rail yard machine shop.  He was a retired colonel in the New Mexico Civil Air Patrol.  He passed his many real-life experiences on to his students and made his lessons practical for them. 

Old Albuquerque High School on Central Avenue and Broadway, ca. 1947, from Harrington, PICT 000-299-0414.

AHS students in hallway, 1961 La Reata.

The Old Albuquerque High School was located at Central and Broadway, on Route 66.  The old main building on Central was designed by El Paso architect, Henry C. Trost, in the red brick college Gothic Revival Style.  George M. Williamson and Louis Hesselden also added buildings to the campus.  There were six main structures.  It was the only high school in town from 1914 until 1948 when Highland High was started.  The old school continued until 1970 and closed that year when the new Albuquerque High was opened.  It is a historic landmark today.


Drafting class, learning together, Harrington, Pict 000-299-0263.

One has to ask - was learning more fun back then?  I think it might have been, or at least more social and hands-on.  That was when a “notebook” and a “tablet” were paper pads to write on.  The "encyclopedia" was in the Library.  The only “phone” was in the school office or down on the street corner.  There were no freeways or shopping malls and you joined your friends for a soda or movie downtown on Route 66.

The AHS school had a large staff, wide range of classes and hundreds of students.  They were co-ed and we see guys and gals learning together in the photographs.  Among the courses shown in the 1949 yearbook were English, Spanish, Latin, and Southwest, United States and World History.   Also offered were Anthropology, Geography, Government, and Latin American Relations, History and Literature.  Others were Mathematics, Economics, Commerce, Agriculture, Sociology and Psychology.  Included, too, were Art, Theater, Stagecraft, Music, Orchestra, Band and Dance.  And there was P.E., with Football, Baseball, Boxing, Track, Wrestling, Hockey, Gymnastics, Tennis, Swimming and Archery classes. 

There were also vocational programs for boys and girls, such as Business and Office Management, Wood Working, Machine Tooling, Mechanics, Printing, Drafting, Surveying, AV and Radio Production, Home Economics and Driving.   

And oh yes, and the Sciences, "Doc" Harrington's realm, covered Biology, Physics, Radio Physics, Meteorology, Navigation and Military Science. 

Science class demonstration, 1956, Harrington, PICT 000-299-0404.  Notice the boy on the floor on the lower left.  Hope he was okay.

WAFB trainees, aviation, 1955, Mary Coats, Ardith Preston, Nancy Tucker and Edna Dyson, Harrington, PICT 000-299-0059.

There were lots of clubs and extracurricular activities, social and charity services, class elections, dances, parades, working on the yearbook and publishing the Yucca creative writing magazine.  Some of the popular clubs were archaeology, art league, chess, the correspondence group who wrote to students in foreign countries, creative music, future farmers, future teachers, honors, ice skating, military officers club, the outdoor club, the pepper school spirit club, the projector club, silver saddles riding group, shop, French, Spanish and square dance clubs, and the YMCA group.  Students could also gain experience as traffic guides, nursing aids, counselors, library and office helpers.

"Doc" Harrington, dressed as a wizard to awaken student interest in the mysteries of Astrology, Harrington PICT 000-299-0001.

Long before Harry Potter, there was "Doc" Harrington, dressed up like a wizard, leading a new generation of scientists and engineers.  He had his own "STEM" initiative, creating the AHS “Dawn Patrol” science labs for interested students meeting before classes at 5:30-8:40 AM (AJ 7-1-80).   He founded the “Envoys of Science” for high schoolers to teach science in the lower grades (AJ 7-28-80).  He started a free tutoring service to anyone wanting it and more than 700 joined in (AJ 7-1-80).  He was a legend in his own time and taught more than 10,000 students, inspiring them with his own zest for learning.  Many AHS graduates went on to professional careers.  They formed the backbone of the Albuquerque community and surrounding areas.  Harrington always told students an education is the most important thing you will ever have (AT 7-28-80).

Sam A. Bateman, enjoying a History book, God forbid, from La Reata, AHS yearbook, 1949.  He graduated in 1949, served on the Student Council his 2nd and 3rd year, Projector Club running school films 3-4, (pres. 4), and Class Play 3.  He also belonged to the Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers Club, whose members were in the AHS Military Science Unit.  He got is B.S. from UNM in 1958.  He lives in the Albuquerque North Valley.











More Harrington Photographs


There are many photographs in the Harrington Collection.  Too many to choose from.  Here are a few more I found interesting.  Great to see girls included.

Surveying, Harrington PICT 000-299-0233.


 AHS print shop did many jobs for the local community, Harrington PICT 000-299-0270.

Aviation training, Harrington, PICT 000-299-0238.