Lens-Artists’ #65: A Place With Special Memories…Sedona

I have been to so many places, in the U.S. and abroad. Every place has been memorable and I thought of the places that were most meaningful to me for this photo challenge: Lens-Artists’ #65 – Pick a Special Place. Scotland – my mother took us on an ancestors’ tour there in 1999 and visited the actual homestead where my 3-greats-grandmother lived. That was very special, but I have no digital photos of it. A couple of other very special places we traveled to came to mind: Tanzania – our safari there was the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken, and Egypt – I fell in love with the ancient ruins of a civilization over 3,500 years old. But I have blogged extensively about both of those trips. So I return to my childhood: I was privileged to attend high school in one of the most beautiful places in the United States and today a major tourist attraction – Sedona, Arizona. At the time I attended high school there, Sedona was just a small town in a beautiful setting where movies were sometimes filmed – it was not well-known then; just a sleepy artists’ colony of sorts. So here are some photos of Sedona, or more specifically, the high school that changed my life and my world view, Verde Valley School.

I start with some photos I took when I was at school there. In my senior year, I was learning photography and developing my own black & white photos in the campus darkroom.

I attended reunions in 2005 and 2006, and then didn’t return until December of 2015, when we were passing through on our way to the Grand Canyon. Here are a few from 2006.

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View from inside the chapel – Cathedral Rock
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“Brenda” the bus with Napoleon Rock in the distance. We used to take field trips in green buses like this one, which had been repurposed  as a store for VVS memorabilia.
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This is a much older me in front of Rollie’s Camera Shop in Sedona, a place I spent considerable time and money during my high school days.

In June of 2018, Dale and I attended a 3-day anniversary reunion, celebrating the school’s 70th year. Unlike other reunions, there were people from all different classes and it was fun to get to know some of those I had never met and reconnect with those who had been there at the same time I was.

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We were greeted with this sign painted on the side of a truck we had also used for transportation way back when. It was positioned along the dirt road leading to the campus.
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My dorm room my sophomore year was the one at the top of the stairs.
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The school “farm” – a new addition on campus. They grow a variety of vegetables and spices which are used by the cooks to feed the multitudes. One of the projects that weekend was making “seed balls” to add to the garden – but only the gardener and I showed up! It was fun getting our hands muddy with the wet red sandstone dirt.
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Cathedral Rock in early evening in June
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Looking through a window from the buffet table to where people are gathering for our last brunch on campus before returning to our ordinary lives.
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Painting this geometric mural was the beginning of someone’s project, which was never finished – we were all supposed to write our names or whatever we wanted to say in black paint, but that part never got done.
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Pathway near the art studio
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Another photo of the girls’ dorm, which looks pretty much the same except that in that center circular area there used to be a huge cottonwood tree.
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Someone painted one dorm room door this beautiful shade of blue and I like the contrast with the turquoise blue of the swing in front.
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A student in recent years created this sign “MOTEL” which was the nickname given to the boys’ dorm behind it.
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This awesome mural was painted by a class in the early 2000s, but was whitewashed over shortly after this picture was taken in 2006, which made a lot of people angry! These graduates were happy to learn that I had this photo because no one else had ever thought to take a picture of it.

And here are a couple of iconic Sedona landmarks: Bell Rock and Cathedral (taken from Oak Creek – the side facing the school is to the right). Elvis Presley once made a movie with Bell Rock as a backdrop. We students got to see him one day (in 1967) when we were in town, when he was filming a scene on a motorcycle emerging from behind a bank. This view of Bell Rock was the scenery from our back window at a resort/condo we rented with friends for 2006 reunion weekend.

Verde Valley School is today one of the most prestigious private high schools in the United States. This school of about 120 students is known for its location, small teacher-student ratio, and its innovative and inclusive curriculum, with an emphasis on environmental and international studies. Many students, especially foreign students, are attracted by the IB (International Baccalaureate) program that was initiated sometime in the late 1990s. The IB is a rigorous, internationally recognized curriculum. VVS graduates are accepted at all major colleges and universities, well-equipped for the demands of college life. Students at Verde Valley School continue to go on one major field trip each school year, as has always been the case since the school was started, as well as shorter trips at various times a year, and also complete a two-week “project period.” If you think your son or daughter or grandchild would be interested in VVS’s progressive and inclusive program, you can browse the school’s web site www.vvsaz.org.

 

10 thoughts on “Lens-Artists’ #65: A Place With Special Memories…Sedona

  1. I love Sedona! lucky you for going to high school there. loved your black and whites from your school days – very cool you kept those.

  2. Such s beautiful spot – last time we were there there was snow and the red ticks with white dusting were gorgeous. Of course it had melted almost immediately but it was magical for a while! Lovely memories in your post and a thank you for reminding me of mine!

  3. How did you happen to go to high school in Arizona? And why a boarding school? My neighbor’s daughter is named Sedona, and now I can see why they picked that lovely name.

    1. Hi Carolyn! My parents weren’t satisfied with the Janesville public schools and they thought boarding schools would be better preparation for college. We all went away to high school. Judy (Julia), Wixie (Alexandra) and I went to Verde Valley and so did our cousin Susan. Mary went to Emma Willard in Troy, NY and Allen went to Deerfield in NJ. I actually had thought of going to a school in the east, but I wasn’t accepted at any of those that I applied and in the end, I’m happy I went to VVS. If you haven’t been to Sedona, it’s worth a trip some time! Holly’s son Eric lives in Flagstaff, AZ and he is getting married next weekend. In fact, Holly lives in Arizona now, too – in Tucson, and Susan and her husband spend winters there, summers in BC, Canada.

  4. What a fabulous place to go to high school! Sedona is magical. I’m trying to imagine learning photography there. Everywhere you look it’s gorgeous. I’m glad you joined us this week and shared great memories of a special place.

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