The “A” on Mount Franklin is one of Austin High School’s oldest traditions. In the fall of 1931, Gordon Gunn and John Clary outlined and whitewashed the “A” on the mountain. The whitewashing of the “A” was not sponsored by the school, but was welcomed by the student body.
The members of the Panther Association were the original keepers of the “A.” These industrious boys were responsible for maintaining the “A” on the mountain and for lighting the “A” during all home football games. When the Panther Association was dissolved, the “A” Club continued the tradition of lighting and maintaining the “A.” In 1963, Phi Chi under the sponsorship of Mr. Donald Hutchings took over the responsibilities.
There is currently no student group or organization responsible for carrying on this tradition. A small group of exes led by Randy Gschwind, class of ’76, worked hard to revive the tradition. Randy organized a groups of students and exes to climb the mountain to clean up the area around the “A” and to whitewash the “A” with the goal of lighting it for every home football game.
This tradition is difficult to keep alive because the school cannot sponsor the activity. Randy has received permission from the owner of the land and from the El Paso Fire Department to light the “A”; however, the greatest hindrances to this endeavor are costs and manpower due to the high costs and yearly increases of fuel.
The association appreciates Randy’s efforts and those of the students from the Sandra Day O’Connor Criminal Justice/Public Service Academy, plus the alumni who have climbed the mountain to give the “A” a shiny and clean whitewash. Thank you for your hard work!
Please contact the association if you are interested in helping with a donation for the lighting of the “A”, or if you would like to climb the mountain and help clean and/or light the “A.”
6 thoughts on “Hey Hey Look at the “A”!”
I want to thank Angelo Pokulda who was the Principle at the time I got the Chimes in the Tower project started with his support along with Becky Soltero who has been a great alumnus and kept me going up to the “A”. Diane Jones who was a fantastic Principle. All three need to be remembered for their Integrity, Intelligence, Persistence and Determination.
Raul and Espy Rodriquez for leading the Football Booster Club for Ruben Batista. I will never forget that day in the varsity football office when Raul said to me in front of Ruben. Randy you can get the “A” going for the games cause your the only one crazy enough and in good enough shape to try!
Robert Blackwolf as a teacher and huge supporter of AHS with his Panther Prowler at the football games and in the parades. Green Beret, 5 tours of combat in Southeast Asia and all his battle wounds and mental toughness. Lakota Sioux warrior of the Pine Ridge Klan of South Dakota! A Man who loved and supported the students with the only HAM radio station at a EPISD high school!
It was the two students who outline the “A” but It was the depression era and all types of parents and kids with the pictures to prove it moved all the rocks into the outline before it was ever whitewashed!
It was a nightmare and a joy to keep the “A” going after the EPISD edict came down from the school board in 1995 to stop all support through the high school sponsored clubs to light and maintain any of the letters on the mountain! I took on the City Council and the Fire Marshall office plus EPISD to keep the “A” going from 1999 through 2012. I hope with Steve Hernandez’75 we can light it one more time in 2015 for Homecoming!
GREAT WORK FOR A SUPERB SCHOOL….ALL A HAPPY