When Sunnyslope High School first opened its doors on September 8, 1953, it had 18 classrooms, an office, a woodshop, a cafeteria, and a P.E. building. More students than had been expected had registered the week before, but the new high school considered itself well equipped with its 17 faculty members to handle approximately 430 new Sunnyslope students.
Some of the first students to walk the shiny new floors decided they needed something significant to show their pride in their new school. Something long-lasting. Something visible.
In December of 1954 a group mostly comprised of Student Council officers and members came up with the idea of a giant “S” on the mountain slope due north of the school campus. It would be not only a point of pride for the school but a marker for the fast-growing community as well.
Using only walkie-talkies, binoculars and some volunteers, the group of a dozen or so students spent one day marking out the outlines of the S and the next day hauling 5-gallon buckets of whitewash up the steep slope to paint the ground inside. Even though it was December, it was still hot and backbreaking work that went on from sunrise to just after 5 p.m.
In the end, the students accomplished more than they realized: they created a long-lasting legacy that since appeared in ad campaigns, international magazines, postcards, and more. It can still be seen from South Mountain, 27 miles away. And it will continue to inspire both the student at Sunnyslope High School and the residents of this tight-knit community for many more generations to come.
100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book support the operation and maintenance of the Sunnyslope Historical Society Museum located at 737 E. Hatcher Road, Phoenix, AZ 85020.
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