Mrs. Nina Lawton poses with her fourth-grade students in fall 1963.  This class went on to be the Moffat County High School graduating Class of 1972.


Mrs. Nina Lawton poses with her fourth-grade students in fall 1963. This class went on to be the Moffat County High School graduating Class of 1972.

A new Sunset School for baby boomers




Moffat County School Superintendent John Gilchrist watches as Steve and Claudia Shepherd test facilities in the newly constructed Sunset School building. Each classroom was furnished with a sink, drinking fountain and cabinet unit in the adjoining corridor.

As early as 1952, it was becoming apparent that the vintage 1921 Yampa School (today’s Moffat County School District administration building) could not meet the needs of the burgeoning postwar generation known as the “baby boomers.” In November 1953, Craig residents passed a $290,000 bond issue to build a second elementary school and two months later construction began on the new Sunset School. The six-month contract deadline was easily met and the dedication was held just after Christmas 1954.

With 12 classrooms, a separate kindergarten area, a gymnasium and general purpose room, it was thought the new facility would be more than adequate to serve the growing number of students in Craig. Constructed on the outskirts of town on Green Street, the schoolyard had a great view of Craig’s landmark Sand Rocks to the north and open fields to the west. When the school opened in January 1955, it gave Craig two elementary campuses in addition to the Breeze School junior high building for fifth- through eighth-graders and the high school located on north Yampa Avenue.

The disparity between the old Breeze and Yampa buildings and the new Sunset School reflected four decades of fast-paced technological developments. The Sunset Elementary students benefited from the new advances in construction materials and the open floor plans so typical of the 1950s era. Bright colors and lots of light were used throughout the large schoolrooms.

Even with the addition of a second elementary school, the town again was feeling the pinch of the growing student population just three years later. In March 1959, voters were asked to vote for a new $285,000 building program for the construction of a third elementary school on the east side of town. At the same time, four additional classrooms were planned for the still new Sunset School building, along with improvements to the Breeze School complex. The new East Elementary School was ready for its first students in September 1960, with seven classrooms and a large multipurpose room. Once again, however, the town was caught off-guard with boom of the 1970s and mobile classrooms had to be added to all three elementary facilities to ease continued overcrowding. During that time, use of the aged Yampa building for elementary students was discontinued, and — in the early 1980s — Ridgeview Elementary School was built at the western edge of town.

Today, elementary students in Craig have four schools to accommodate them and space no longer is an issue. The boom that started with the postwar babies has passed, but the sturdy structures erected during that era continue to serve the current generation of elementary children. For more information on Moffat County’s schools, visit the Museum of Northwest Colorado, and enjoy our large collection of class photos, high school annuals and memorabilia. The staff at the museum wishes all Moffat County students and teachers a great school year ahead!


David Moore 3 years, 8 months ago

Cool story. I attended K-4 at Sunset back in the day before the remodel and when I go there now I often wonder how the heck we played ball in that dinky gym, but, we did. The photo with Mrs. Lawton in it is classic, I had her for math in 4th grade. I still see her today roaming the halls of the hospital as a volunteer and I joke with her about those times, I was not particularly fond of math, but not because of her. I was also a student at the old Breeze school for 5th grade, anyone recall the "dark halls"? Turned out in reality to be nothing but it sure was the thing to challenge and those who went into them always came out scared for one reason or another. Kids, gotta love em'.


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