Taos County New Mexico
Penasco High School


This page contributed and copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Data contributed by Alberto Vidaurre.



Penasco Highschool contributed by Alberto Vidaurre

Penasco: Located on the Southern part of Taos County. Settlement on NM 75, 2 miles south east of Picuris Pueblo; Penasco is said to have taken its name from being in a denuded valley, whose rocks were exposed, though in New Mexico the Spanish Penasco more often refers to a rocky outcrop, or bluff (1). Perhaps like the ones located next to the road between Penasco and Rio Lucio, just past the residence and property of Armando Martinez and his wife Bersabe Medina, where for many years the fiestas de San Lorenzo have been held every August.

Penasco's Patron Saint is San Antonio de Padua (2). The Penasco Catholic Church's construction was started in the 1880s, while Padre Ramon Medina (or as he signed the different church records, Ramon Medina, Cura de Los Rincones), was the priest in charge. He is buried within the church. Prior to that move the priest performed his duties from the San Lorenzo de Picuris Church. The Penasco church burned June 13,1961. It was rebuilt in 1964 with Father Garcia being in charge at that time.

Aaron Gold was the first postmaster of the Penasco post office that opened 10 September 1874 (3).

Penasco was/is the trade center for several surrounding communities; such as Tres Rito, Las Mochas, Rio Del Pueblo, Placitas, Vadito, Llano, Llano Largo,  Santa Barbara, Rodarte, Rio Lucio, Picuris Pueblo, Chamisal, Vallecitos, Ojitos, El Valle, Trampas, and Ojo Sarco. The stores in Penasco were the Juan Smith and Sons, J. D. Fernandez, Pete and Patricia Sahd, The Owens store, Oviado and Rubelia Martinez and the Herson and Viola Barela's Rainbow store. Ramon Sanchez had a store in Penasco and by the time he died on the 23rd of September 1923, at the age of 77, he was considered one of the most affluent merchants that at one time is said to have had the largest and best equiped store in Taos County.

Amado and Estella Roybal owned and operated the only movie theatre in Penasco. Amado Roybal was employed by the forest service, and he was the first Fire Chief of the Penasco Volunteer Fire Department. Other Fire Officers and members were Pete Sahd, Vice President, Cerilo Barela,Secretary, Gilbert Garduno, Treasuer, Clemente Gallegos, Lloyd Bolander, Benito Fresquez, Herson Barela, J.D. Romero, Marcelino Romero, Grabiel Gonzales, Dominico Quintana, Junior Roybal, Medardo Romero and Feliz (Felix) Romero. The Penasco Volunteer Fire Department was created in 1960.

Padre Peter Kupper is said to have opened a parochial and public school in Penasco in the 1920s. In 1931 he opened a fully accredited high School. The staff and teachers Catholic Nuns. The 1949 law suit Commononly known as the " Dixon Case," officially known as Zeller et al. V. Huff et al, No. 5332, removed the control of the public schools from the Catholic Church and created the separation of New Mexico's religious and public education (4). In 1949 Alfredo Romero was appointed the first Superintendent of the newly created Penasco Independent Schools. Alfredo Romero was replaced as Superintendent in May of 1956 by Gregorio Vigil (5). He was replaced by F.(Facundo) R. Rodriguez. Several area schools were consolidated and moved to Penasco. The schools that taught the pre-first to sixth grades in Trampas, El Valle, Sanchez, Llano and Rio Lucio were closed. Most students now attend the Elementary, Junior High and High School in Penasco..

1-The Place Names of New Mexico. By Robert Julyan; And New Mexico Place Names, A Geographical Dictionary. Edited by T.M.Pearce.

2-Built of Earth And Song. Churches of Northern New Mexico. By Marie Romero Cash.

3-The History Of Taos County Post Offices. By James W. White. Microfilm Reel # M841.85 Q to V..

4-Article in the book Seeds of Struggle, Harvest of Faith. Edited by Thomas J. Steele, S.J.Paul Rhetts and Barbie Awalt. The Priest Who Made Schools Bloom in The Desert: Peter Kuppers, 1911-1957. By Tomas Jaehn.

5-Article in El Crepusculo News Paper. Thursday May 17,1956.

1944 Penasco High Schools Senior Class. From the book 1944 PENHI Year book:

School Board: Fidel Vasquez, Alfonso Ortiz, Demosten Mascarenas, Fidel Martinez, Salomon Ortega. Sister Maura. O.P., Superintendent.

Teresa Dockwiller, Class President, Mary Duran, Vice-President, Marcia Rodriguez, Secretary, Eufelia Cordova, Manuel Dominguez, Benito Duran, Jose Fresquez, Rosita Martinez, Ofelia Mascarenas, Mary Medina, Carolina Miera, Teresa Ortega, Olivama Rodriguez, Helen Roybal, Gregorita Tafoya, Clorovea Trujillo, Estefanita Trujillo and Teresa Valdez.

1944 Junior Class:
Eduardo Leyba, Class President, Minnie Valdez, Vice-President, Arsenia Romero, Secretary, Florida Barela, Clora Cordoba, Isabel Duran, Virgilio Duran, Edumania Fresquez, Adonila Lopez, Armanda Lopez, George Lucero, Felonis Mascarenas, Onesima Medina, Viola Muniz, Adelina Ortega, Edumenia Romero and Sally Miera.

1944 Sophomore Class:
Hyacintha Vasquez, Class President, Bertha Duran, Vice-President, Benito Chacon, Secretary. Reyes Baca, Delfina Cordoba, Dulcinia Garcia, Rufina Gonzales, Alice Lopez, Ananias Lujan, Ester Martinez, Alice Mascarenas, Otilia Mascarenas, Margarito Ortega, Eloy Ortiz, Manuel Rodriguez, Alice Roybal, Rosita Lopez, Soledad Quintana and Helen Fernandez.

Following are the Penasco High School Alumni Members listed in the 1944 PENHI.

Name....................Date............Where  

                        1930
Pablo Sanchez ........................Dixon  

                         1931
Corina Valdez..(Mrs. R.Duran).........California
Ocelio Vasquez........................California
Beatrice Romero.......................California
Regina Dominguez......................Embudo
Nievecitas Gurule..(Mrs.Clem Dean)....Penasco
Aurora Griego..(Mrs.Ochoa)............Madrid
Adriano Martinez......................Denver       

                     1932
Eloisa Medina..(Mrs.Vigil)............Questa
Ramon Romero..........................Vadito
Eli Rendon............................Dixon  

                          1933
Lionides Pacheco.......................Taos
Octaviano Pacheco......................Leadville
Candido Miera..(Navy)..................Pacific
Telesfor Lopez.........................Rodarte
Emma Leyba.............................California
Virginia Gurule..(Mrs.J. Gonzales).....Denver
Cora Romero..(Mrs.S.Roybal)............California
Felix Fresquez.........................California  

                          1934
Elizabeth Sanchez......................La Cebolla
Lillian Smith..(Navy)..................California
Ismael Valdez..(Army)..................Colorado
Benigna Maestas..(Mrs.W. Sanchez)......Colorado
Fidelia Medina..(Mrs.A.Dominguez)......Penasco
John Olguin............................Wyoming    

                        1935
Eugene Dockwiller..(Navy)..............California
Rosarita Fresquez..(Mrs.M.Trujillo)....Penasco
Demostenes Gurule......................Santa Fe
Anna Smith ............................California
Niva Tafoya..(Mrs.J.Benavides).........California
Libradita Trujillo..(Mrs.R.Gonzales)...Llano
Antonio Chacon.........................California

                           1936
Rogerio Duran..........................Richmond
Aurora Fresquez..(Mrs.A.Garcia)........Albuquerque
Aresenio Medina........................Socorro
Dominico Quintana..(Corporal)..........England
Cleofas Valdez.........................Vadito
Olivama Sanchez........................Ojo Sarco
Irene Romero...........................Albuquerque  

                         1937
Gerson Barela..(Army)..................Missouri
Estevan Lopez..(Army)..................Texas
Libradita Maestas..(Mrs.G.Smith).......California
Jose Sandoval..........................Truchas
Rupertita Torres..(Mrs.P. Martinez)....California  

                         1938
Eduminia Griego..(Army)................Kentucky
Gilbert Smith..........................California
Demostenes Romero..(Army)..............Albuquerque
John Ortega............................Santa Fe
Bernabe Lucero.........................Rodarte
Gregorio Griego........................Madrid

                          1939
Fernando Dominguez.....................California
Martha Romero..(Mrs.B.Lucero)..........Rodarte
Teofilita Mascarenas..(Mrs.J.Montoya...Santa Rita
Claudina Roybal..(Mrs.W.Spears)........Washington
Joseph Smith..(Army)...................California
Jose Mascarenas..(Army)................Prisoner Of War
Felix Garcia..(Army)...................Overseas
Carmen Chacon..(Mrs.M.Fresquez)........Penasco
Orfelita Martinez......................Albuquerque
Eloisa Griego..........................Albuquerque  

                         1940
Dionicio Sanchez..(Army)...............Florida
Octaviano Lopez..(Army)................North Africa
George Vasquez..(Navy).................South West Pacific
Estevan Sanchez........................Gilman
Eli Rodarte..(Army)....................North Africa
Eliseo Borrego..(Army).................South West pacific
Delfino Pacheco........................South West Pacific
Clarence Fernandez.....................South West pacific
Estella Ortega.........................Toole,Utah  

                          1941
Aurora Borrego.........................California
Andres Chacon..........................Pacific
Fortunata Duran........................Rodarte
Amelia Fernandez.......................California
Salomon Fresquez.......................Pacific
Felia Gonzales.........................Wyoming
Eufemia Griego.........................Madrid
Estefanita Lopez.......................North Carolina
Esmeralda Martinez.....................Washington
Rogerio Martinez.......................Iran
Ofelia Mascarenas......................Penasco
Juan Romero............................England
Benedict Valdez........................Vadito
Carlota Valdez.........................California
Elvira Barela..........................California    

                        1942
Oralia Fernandez.......................California
Jose Fresquez..........................Utah
Minnie Lucero..........................California
Salomon Ortega.........................Pacific
Priscilla Roybal.......................Llano
Pantaleon Vasquez.....................Pacific
Inez Martinez..........................Tres Ritos

                           1943
Delia Duran............................Penasco
Jose Fresquez..........................California
Arturo Lucero..........................England
Rachel Lucero..........................Rodarte
Rafaelita Mascarenas...................Santa Rita
Josephine Smith........................California
Dora Vigil.............................California
Florida Vigil..........................California

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