Barrett Elementary was named after Harry McWhirter Barrett. He was an educator and a journalist. His ambition in life was to “learn what I can do best in education—and do that the very best I know how.” Harry Barrett died in 1940 and is buried in Fairmount Cemetery.
Barrett Elementary opened in time for the first day of the school year, September 13, 1960. The address was 2900 Jackson St. 533 students were enrolled at Barrett. Shown in the picture at left is: Principal Carl Barnhart, Mrs. Susan Cowan (a teacher) and Mrs. Jennie Rucker (secretary). The picture on the right shows a young Alton Johnson waving “goodbye” to his mother as he leaves to register at his new school, Barrett Elementary.
An open house was held at the school on Sunday, January 29, 1961. Hundreds of people attended. Tours were conducted. The school’s band and girls’ chorus performed for the guests. A program was created and given to all the guests. The PTA selected the theme “Bringing Up Tomorrow’s Citizens” for the Open House and its program. Even then they were looking to the future. Pictured in the photo at right is Principal Carl F. Barnhart and Mrs. George Eylar, Harry M. Barrett’s granddaughter.
This is a photo of Barrett’s original staff.
Many notable and influential people have been a part of Barrett’s community. Among them is Florida Pitt Waller, Barrett’s first librarian. Mrs. Waller was a pioneer, accomplishing many firsts in DPS. She was the first African-American school librarian, first African-American Instructional Coordinator, first educational script writer for the Denver Public Schools Education Channel, and the first African-American Principal. A school was later named in her honor.
At the center of this picture is Rachel B. Noel. She chaired Barrett’s first School Advisory Committee. Rachel B. Noel went on to become the first African –American elected to DPS’s Board of Education, and the first African-American woman elected to public office in Colorado. In 1968 Noel presented the “Noel Resolution” to the school board, asking the Superintendent to create a plan to integrate Denver’s public schools. Under a cloud of threats to her and her family, the resolution passed in 1970. Mrs. Noel lived to see the Middle School named in her honor.
By the time Omar D. Blair came to serve on Barrett’s PTA board, he had already made a place for himself in history as a member of the “Tuskegee Airmen”. Blair then went on to serve on numerous community boards. As a member of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, he helped begin the building of the 16 th Street Mall. In 1973 Blair was elected to the Denver Board of Education. He served as the Board’s first African-American President from 1977-1981. In 2003 the Blair-Caldwell Library was dedicated to him and Elvin Caldwell. In 2004 a charter school was named for him.
A man who cannot go without recognition is Wilfred Keyes, the lead plaintiff in Keyes v. School District #1. Keyes fought to desegregate the Park Hill Schools. Despite threats to him and his family, he fought and won!
For the next two decades Barrett was paired with Cory Elementary. The two schools shared students. Students attended Barrett for the Primary grades and Cory for Intermediate grades.
In 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial, a time capsule was buried in front of the school. The inscription on the marker reads, “Here lies the past, today dawns the future, Open on May 26, 2026”. Again we see the theme of looking to the future. 16 years from today, the time capsule will be opened.
During the 1980s Barrett gets a new address. Jackson Street is renamed Richard Allen Ct. in honor of Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. Reverend J. Langston Boyd, Jr. of the Shorter A.M.E. Church petitioned to get the street renamed. He also played a part in getting 32 nd Avenue renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
In the Fall of 1996 Barrett opens as a neighborhood school with 262 students. There is a renewed sense of community.
The first decade of the new milennium has brought about many changes at Barrett.
In 2009 a tree was planted at Barrett in memory of Andrew Post, who taught here from 2003-2006. The marker reads, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” So many of Barrett’s parents, teachers and students have lived up to this ideal; they have made the world a better place; they have created opportunity where there was none before. Students, what will you do with that opportunity? What will you do with your education? What will you do today that will make the world a better place tomorrow? “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
Barrett Elementary's 50th Anniversary Slide Show
Harry M. BarrettHis ambition in life was to:“learn what I can do best ineducation—and do that thevery best I know how.”
Barrett Open HouseBarrett Open House19611961“Bringing Up Tomorrow’s Citizens”
Barrett’s Original Staff: (Seated Left to Right) Mrs. Loay Boggess, MissSusan Cowan, Mrs. Betty Markris, Miss Julia Mosley, Miss Jan Schlachta,Mrs. Fern Cockrum, Mrs. Judith Kantrowitz, Miss Margaret St. Charles(Standing Left to Right) Mr. Carl Barnhart (Principal), Miss Beverly Berge,Mrs. Florence McFadden, Mr. Delbert Toland, Mrs. Florida Waller, Mrs.Emma Coprich, Mr. William Smith.
If you love reading, everything is within your reach.
Barrett’s First School Advisory Committee. From left toright: Mrs. Florida Pitt Waller, Mr. David Smith, Mrs. ClaraSims, Mrs. Thelma Gash, Mrs. Rachel Noel (Chairman),Mr. Ernest Pate, Mr. William Miller, Mr. Richard Stare, Mr.Carl Barnhart.
Omar D. Blair, Mayor McNichols, Rev. Cecil W. HowardOmar D. Blair1stVice President (Program)Barrett PTA 1967-1968
Wilfred KeyesChristi KeyesKeyes v. School District #1 1972-1973Keyes along with the other petitioners sought thedesegregation of Park Hill Schools. They arguedthat the district had drawn and redrawn schoolattendance boundaries to segregate the Park HillSchools and that conditions in these schools werenot equal. The case went all the way to theSupreme Court. The Burger Court found for Keyesand the other parents. Both sides were to draft aplan to integrate the schools.
For the next two decades Barrett waspaired with Cory Elementary. The twoschools shared students. Studentsattended Barrett for the Primarygrades and Cory for the Intermediategrades.
Time Capsule is Buried May 26, 1976“HERE LIES THE PASTTODAY DAWNS THE FUTUREOPEN ON MAY 26, 2026”
2900 Richard Allen Ct.In the 1980s Barrettgets a new address.
The 1990s bringsabout the end ofbusing.Barrett becomes aneighborhood schoolserving all elementarygrade levels.Luther Warden walks hisgrandson, Andre Perkins, 5, tohis house afterschool.