Students of the Mammoth-San Manuel High School may not be walking the halls yet because of COVID-19, but they got to experience some community outrage Monday after it was discovered that dozens of the school’s athletics trophies ended up in a dumpster following a renovation project.
The Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District is located in southeastern Pinal County, one hour northeast of Tucson. It consists of a K-5 elementary school and a junior-senior high school for grades 6-12, which also serves residents of Oracle to the west.
On Monday morning, someone posted photographs of a dumpster outside the high school in San Manuel full of trophies. That was followed by a Facebook Live video by Pamela Pacheco which included Superintendent Julie Dale-Scott expressing dismay at the situation.
Pacheco’s video spread like wildfire in the communities served by the school. By afternoon, the controversy was formally addressed on the district’s Facebook page.
According to the posting, the trophies are now in storage after being “retrieved” from the dumpster following a project to reorganize and clean several display cases inside the school. The posting is not attributed to a specific school official.
“This should have never occurred, and we apologize for upsetting the community over this matter,” the posting states. “Administration will look further into this matter and deal with any disciplinary action that should occur.
The posting explained that the discarded trophies were not connected to any of the school’s sports championship over the years. Instead, they came from various past invitationals and tournaments.
“The trophy cases in the gym were cleaned and the plan was to make them look more presentable,” the statement reads. “They now house our many championship trophies so that they can be seen.”
The school’s statement noted that efforts will be undertaken to find new homes for the excess trophies.
“Our initial plan to take pictures of these trophies and offer them to alumni will occur in the near future,” the statement reads.
But for Pacheco, who graduated from the high school and has sons registered at the school, the dumpster situation did not set well.
“Is it that hard to post pictures asking people if they want them or saying available to pick up rather than just throwing our history away?” Pacheco asked.
Among other alumni posting about the dumpster find was Greg Parker, who graduated from the school and went on to be a teacher, principal, and athletic director. He was grateful that the trophies were saved and is anxious to hear what school administrators plan to do with them moving forward.
“Nothing can take my wonderful memories of being a student athlete at SMHS,” Parker wrote. “I still remember my friends, teammates, teachers and Hall of Fame coaches. Our trophies we earned are for our school and community. Please use your common sense when you are taking well earned achievements away from our community. Thank you for saving what was left.”
Another alumna, Daniela Guerrero, offered her time to help ensure all of the old trophies have a place to be displayed.
“I will personally go to the school, and help make space, or clear a classroom to help make ‘Hall of Fame’ room,” she noted.
Ashlee Hogg says she was one of the people who showed up to save the trophies from the landfill. But despite her concern over what happened, she posted to the school’s Facebook page that everyone needs to give school officials time to understand how the trophies ended up in the dumpster during the renovation project.
“I agree it was wrong, which is why I was there digging trophies out of the trash,” Hogg posted, adding someone needs to be held accountable. “But I think we need to give them a chance to figure it all out without all the hate and nasty comments.”
Messages left at the school by Arizona Daily Independent were not answered.