We had three school buildings in Questa, one where the parish center is, one on Cabresto,
and one on Embargo. The high school was at Costilla with the Sisters as teachers. You went home to eat your lunch or or you brought lunch to school. There were no lunch boxes; we just used an empty pail from jam or syrup.
School started in October as some students would go to the potato harvest so they could buy clothes for the winter. It ended by the end of February. Some parents would get to- gether and pay one or two teachers until the end of April so their children would have more schooling. There were no lunch rooms, no buses. Everybody walked to school. Those that lived close would walk home for lunch. The others brought lunch. Students had to buy their own books, paper, pencils, etc. In November for the SPMDTU’s annual meeting, the school would put up a big program for them. We would have a play and sing songs. It was held at the SPMDTU hall down from the Parish Center.
School was under the county until we became Questa Independent Schools. Costilla, Cerro, Red River, and Lama were grouped with us. All of the children were bused to school. We had lunch rooms, and a gym was built. It still stands at La Cienega. A new high school was built where the Alta Vista school is. Then the present high school was built and Alta Vista became the junior high school. Then in 1997 the elementary school at La Cienega moved up to Alta Vista.
Most children did not speak English until they started school. We knew a little English because my mom’s stepdad “Papa Cook” was an Anglo. He didn’t speak Spanish so we learned English from him. Elsie, my sister, thought she really spoke English well since she had lived with them for 6 years. One day Benita was sent to the store to buy nipples so they could feed the penquitas (orphan lambs). So she saw Elsie outside and told her what she was going to do, but didn’t know how to tell Papa Cook what she wanted so she asked Elsie to go with her. Elsie went with her to the store. She told Papa Cook, “Bennie here wants some ‘tetes’ for the lambs.”