Commuters may notice a brighter “S” on the hillside as they drive around town thanks to the Sparks High School and City Councilman Donald Abbott spearheading an effort to restore the landmark.
After the record winter Sparks just experienced, the big “S” was overgrown with weeds and painted rocks needed to be re-stacked due to some recent vandalism in a poor attempt to make a dollar sign.
However, thanks to the 40-50 people that came together Saturday at 2345 East Prater Way (half of them being Sparks High School students, community members and former alumni) near the horse ranch, the giant “S” is now bright and visible again. To reach the location, Abbott received permission from the property owner and embarked with his volunteer crew on a 10-minute hike up.
“(The event) went great; we had about 40 people to start with and then others kept showing up,” says Abbott. He stated that driving through town, he often looks up at the “S” and noticed the overgrown weeds and dullness of it. “It was definitely in need of fresh paint,” he added.
As a Sparks High School alumni himself, Abbott was familiar with the last time the it was painted a few years and added that Sparks High School Registrar Gregg Shugar has been instrumental in keeping the tradition alive.
“In the records that we found, the ‘S’ was established in 1925 when Sparks High School students put it up. We take a lot of pride in having the ‘S’ on the hill,” says Shugar, who graduated in Class of ’88 and has been working at the high school since 1999. He says that every so often he goes up there to pull weeds, but that the ‘S’ hasn’t been repainted since 2005.
“The painting (of the ‘S’) is a big undertaking,” says Shugar. Shugar coached Abbott in football when he attended Sparks High School and is grateful for his effort in keeping the ‘S’ restored. He says that the effort used to be 100 percent students and Abbott really helped in getting alumni and the rest of the community involved.
“It took a lot of strain off of us in trying to gather a bunch of teenagers to go up there (on a weekend),” says Shugar. “But it’s a source of pride for every alumni. The whole town can see it and I think the kids really appreciate it. I try to emphasize to them that we’re just the caretakers and we’re going to need help to continue this tradition. (For everyone who attended the event) now you can point up there and say that you were a part of that.”