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Book Compiles Altoona Public School Memories

Abi Zimmer

On Halloween night in 1951, the Altoona Public High School went up in flames along with tons of local history, records, and pictures. John Thurston, 1942 graduate of the school, feared the memories would also die. “If people are unaware of their history, they cannot be fully aware of where they are and, most importantly, where they are going,” he says. So, Thurston compiled the writings of 37 students who attended the K-12 school in a book, titled The Old Altoona Public School: A Collection of Memories, for sale at the Chippewa Valley Museum, and available at Altoona Public Library and Altoona High School. “I hope readers gain from it a sense of what it was like back in the 1920-1950 time period – the hardscrabble living, the enduring impact of the Great Depression, and the central role that the Old Altoona Public School played in maintaining and expressing hope,” Thurston said.