Founded in 1874, CSHS/Palmer High School is recognized internationally for diversity and academic success. This includes 2017 Shawn Wybrant, National Teacher of the Year, International Baccalaureate program and one of Newsweek’s top five high schools in America. As of 2020, graduates numbered 41,787. Five students graduated in 1879. In 1959, Colorado Springs High School was renamed William J. Palmer High School in honor of the city’s founder. America’s largest most active alumni association was established in 1984.
Located at Bijou and Cascade, Old Stone School House was the first permanent school. A bell tower, with a clock on all four sides, was first thing seen by travelers arriving in town on General Palmer’s Denver Rio Grande Railroad. Considered second to none in the Territory of Colorado, for grades one through twelve, it was overcrowded within a year. The building was severely damaged by fire on January 13, 1890. The Congregational Church hosted classes.
On January 9, 1893, a new school at Platte and Weber opened at a cost of $100,000. The Romanesque architecture and pressed brick exterior building had 17 rooms. The tower held a 2,800 pound bell Cast in 1879. On May 16, 1940, bonds were approved $609,000 for construction and $60,000 for embellishments, to provide a new building that opened, as one of the West’s most attractive architectural school designs by Edward L. Bunts, class of 1921.
An English bulldog named Elmer was mascot from 1919 -1928, a traditional Indian followed. In 1945, student, Don Willis, drew an Indian caricature: Eagle Beak, who became the emblem of the Terrors. Out of respect for Native Americans, in 1987 Eagle Beak became a Bald Eagle known as Eagle Beak II.
The Lever newspaper was first published in 1887. School colors were adopted in 1892: brown for the mountains, white for the snow. The name “Terrors” adopted in 1920 was acquired in the 1890’s representing the skill of the athletic teams who “terrorized” their opponents. Fred C. Fink, band director, wrote the “Terror Fight Song” in 1923. The Terror Legend was composed in 1928 by art teacher Pansy Dawes for Homecoming which included a bonfire.
1950 -2020 a growing town created the need for expanding school facilities and programs. The campus covers 3 city blocks. Tradition, Diversity and Excellence are the school trademarks.
Generously Submitted by Marjorie Swearingen Erickson, Historian & CSHS/Palmer Alumni Association