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News from 2022-2023

Posted: May 22, 2023

A Neighborhood School Celebrates 103 Years of Success and Heritage

Old Town Elementary celebrates 103 years.

Reginald Chavez ES students perform on Friday during a celebration honoring the schools 103rd birthday.

Reginald Chavez ES students perform on Friday during a celebration honoring the schools 103rd birthday.

Vintage photos of Old Town Elementary School in Albuquerque taken in 1920 show a part of the city unrecognizable now with dirt streets, wood frame structures, and farmland. Over the decades, as the city expanded, the school relocated a few times and eventually, in 1955, settled on its current site at 2700 Mountain Rd NW. The next big change happened in 1987 when the community successfully lobbied the district to change the school’s name in honor of beloved principal Reginald Chavez. Through it all, school staff and the community continued to collaborate on formal academics and lessons in life, culture, and the arts. 

The school’s proximity to Old Town makes it easy for students to visit museums, the planetarium, and various multicultural events in the plaza throughout the year. Reginald Chavez honors its past while keeping an eye on its future. In fact, some school staff brag the school may have been the first to adopt a magnet theme with its top-notch enrichment programs, including STEAM labs, art and music education, digital learning lab classes and fun family nights.

The school’s rich history, its students and families show how important tradition has been to that community. It also reveals the success the school has had in preserving its heritage. Reginald Chavez Elementary School is the home of the Tigers, a dual-language school where some students garden, play in the student mariachi group, and participate in science fairs. The rich course offerings contributed to former First Lady Laura Bush’s visit to the school to present the coveted Blue Ribbon Award - a national recognition for academic achievement.

There are more memories and accolades to share about this school than there is time to tell. In every tale, you will find a person or people who made the school what it is today. The school’s namesake, Reginald Chavez, was a student at Old Town Elementary. Chavez eventually joined the Air Force, became a teacher, joined the symphony, and enjoyed being the principal of Old Town Elementary until 1986, when he died at 56 due to complications from viral encephalitis. Chavez represented his community with pride and passion, and his legacy lives on. 

Reginald Chavez Elementary currently has just over 200 students enrolled. While the school is smaller, it isn’t any less spectacular. We will never again hear stories about students learning the craft of making adobes or the neighboring farmyard bull jumping a fence onto the playground -those days are gone forever. You will, however, continue to hear about the special place the school holds in the hearts of many. Even after 103 years, nothing matters more than the people committed to better futures for our children.