Bearcat Alley bears the pride of the Crimson and White

A walk through Bearcat Alley at Carnegie Museum inside Paso Robles City Park takes only a few steps, but for many, the memories for Paso Robles High School alumni are of an unforgettable journey.

“As students, you respected your teachers and you would do your best to respect your fellow students,” said Carnegie Museum docent Dale Hiner, who graduated in 1960.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Museum, Paso Robles
The Bearcat Alley of the Paso Robles Carnegie Library.

A Treasure Trove

Bearcat Alley continues to evolve as more memorabilia is donated to Carnegie Library. There are photographs, yearbooks, trophies, news clippings, letterman sweater patches, pins, band uniforms, and even Norma Moye’s cheerleading outfit.

“It’s a great group of people here. They have that real sense of community,” said Jan Cameron, Director of Research at Paso Robles Historical Society. “I recently met a 1974 homecoming queen, who passed through to view one of the yearbooks.”

Paso Robles High Times three

The first high school in San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles High School was built in 1892 and graduated its first senior class in 1896. Constructed with locally made bricks, the stately three-story structure was located at 17th Street and Vine Street, where the Marie Bauer Elementary sits now. A decade upon opening, the high school and upper-level auditorium would languish in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. A new location was built at 24th and Spring Street, and the faulted building was later razed in 1939.

In the 1960s, the 24th Street campus was refurbished, with subsequent additions to what later became Flamson Middle School. (By 2003, the San Simeon Earthquake rendered the structures unsalvageable, and a new middle school was constructed.) By 1980, the third PRHS campus was built on Niblick Road, where it stands today. However, football games continue at War Memorial Stadium on the Flamson Middle School campus to a faithful attendance of PRHS boosters.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Museum, Paso Robles
A display case shows memorabilia from Jan Stemper Brown, a song leader in 1961 at PRHS.

An Enduring Legacy

Behind the memorabilia and photos of smiling students are beloved teachers who have passed on. They include: George Flamson (1983), Robert “Bob” Radar (1997), Gil Asa (1999), Virginia Peterson (2003), Daniel E. Lewis (2004), Ken Schmutz, Carol Root Smeltzer and Wally Ohles (2012), and Forest Hahn (2013), to name a few.

Bearcat Pride among classmates continues long past graduation in ways that manifest in the day-to-day in times of joy and sorrow. To help keep graduates of all ages in touch, social media groups, such as “Paso Robles Bearcat Boosters” and “PRHS Bearcat Athletics,” remain active on Facebook’s virtual pages. Local groups, many of whom are comprised of former Paso Robles High School students, as well as parents who have lost their loved ones far too soon, have established educational scholarships for future generations.

For Dale Hiner and others, time certainly hasn’t diminished relationships with his fellow Bearcats, who still gather to meet several times a week.

“Paso Robles High has an unbelievable history,” said Dale. “As a Bearcat, you can’t help but be very proud of that heritage. It’s true. ‘Once a Bearcat … always a Bearcat.’”