KIRKLAND, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- An Arizona elementary school is looking to its history to help move forward with its future.

The Kirkland Elementary School near Prescott just celebrated its centennial this fall.

[VIDEO: Kirkland School near Prescott marks 100 years]

As a way to tell this story, Arizona’s Family sat down with three generations of one family.

“I went to school here in 1947. I was 5 years old and at that time, it was a little more lax then,” Kirkland Elementary School graduate Tom Ritter said.

Kirkland is an unincorporated community in Yavapai County, about 30 miles away from Prescott.

"It's just peaceful to be out here. You don't have the hustle and bustle with the traffic," Brian Hampton said.

"I hate to brag too much because you don't want everyone moving here," Cathi Hampton-Cobey said.

One hundred years after the Kirkland School was built, the rock-solid stone exterior is now riddled with cracks, showing its age.

But while the school may look old on the outside, 21st century technology is still being taught to students on the inside. Every student has his or her own laptop, although there are a limited number of outlets in the dated classrooms.

Eight-grader Molly Hampton heard about the school’s rich history from her dad Brian and great-aunt Cathi. "It's so cool because I’m able to hear stories about the school before I was even here," Molly said."I have been coming here since I was in preschool."

Molly’s the third generation to go through this school. When the community found out Arizona’s Family was coming out to talk about the school’s history, others wanted to share their story, too.

That includes Cathi’s classmate from the 1950’s, Tom Ritter. "I'm third generation here. My daughter's fourth generation. My great grandfather settled here in 1867,” Ritter said.

Even though the community celebrated the school’s centennial, there’s a dire need for an upgrade.

"Other schools in the area have gotten new schools, so we are really trying to push to get a new facility if we can," Brian Hampton said.

"There is zero industry to provide that tax space. So, it really is coming from households," Kirkland School Administrator Michelle Perey said.

The district says even if the school taxed its residents the maximum amount, it wouldn’t be enough money to replace the school. And they say the state has told them, there isn’t a plan in place to build a new school for them.

"From what I understand, they don't have a mechanism to replace century-old buildings. They only have a model to build new construction when your district has outgrown their current space," Perey said.

It's not the square footage they've outgrown...it's the actual layout of the building that causes problems. The price tag for a new building would roughly cost a couple million dollars. "Short of an actual $2 million donations, there would be no way to currently really do it," Perey said.

The restrictions on a new building haven't changed community support for the district.

"The culture is pretty strong,” Perey said. “But our infrastructure is probably our biggest challenge."

"We love Kirkland, and I mean, it's home,” Cathi said. “It's a great feeling to know it's still going after this many years."

 


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