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Phoenix Alumni Assignment: Save Historically Black School

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The Phoenix Monarchs Alumni Association has a mission: to save George Washington Carver School, once the only high school for black students in Arizona.

The Phoenix school district recently announced plans to sell the building and its grounds for $200,000. Some prospective buyers said they would probably tear down the school, which has been closed since the 1950s.

But the alumni group hopes to come up with enough cash by the end of the month to save the school, which is listed in the state and national registers of historic places. In recent years, the two-story building had been used as a museum, warehouse, and office space.

Though no agreement has been reached, it appears likely that the group will be able to buy the building, Jim Cummings, a district spokesman, said last week.

Although Carver has been closed for more than 40 years, it remains a source of pride for those who went to school there, said Coy Payne, a 1949 graduate who later became mayor of his hometown of Chandler.

Led by Mr. Payne and another classmate, Calvin Goode, the alumni group has raised about $60,000 through individual donations and a grant from the city. They hope to turn the old school into a cultural and educational center.

Mr. Payne said the school looks as good today as it did in its heyday. "It's just like when I was stepping onto campus as a freshman back in 1945."

--Joanna Richardson

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