As the West High Alumni Association envisions it, it's sort of the ultimate in high school reunions, except that instead of 300 alumni dancing at the Marriott it will be 3,000 alumni standing in a football field.
Or maybe 14,000. That's how many letters the alumni association has sent out to its former West High graduates, hoping to convince them to show up at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at West to celebrate the school's 100th birthday.All these people will then pose for a picture - taken from the roof so that everyone will fit - and then the picture will be sent off to the Guinness Book of World Records. Although there is currently no Guinness category called "most alumni ever to gather in one spot," the Guinness people say they're willing to entertain the possibility of one.
The alumni association is hoping that West's age and the fact that people tend to stay put in the Salt Lake Valley will lead to a world rec-ord turnout. Claudia Price of the alumni association points out that she has 32 West High graduates in her family alone.
As for the matter of West's exact age, that's sort of open to interpretation. There was a West High School that opened in 1890 - at 153 S. 200 West, in what was then known as the 14th Ward School. Not long after, the name was changed to the Freemont School. There was also an East High School, located at 400 E. 200 South.
The next year both schools were incorporated into one school - Salt Lake High School, located on 200 West. When that building proved too small, Salt Lake High School was moved to South Temple Street, then to Pierpont Avenue, then to its current location on 300 West - in buildings that once housed the University of Utah.
It wasn't until the current East High was built in 1914 that Salt Lake High School changed its name to West High.
But all those details are just technicalities when you're intent on celebrating your centennial. And West High plans to celebrate in a big way. The alumni association has even asked Willard Scott to announce the school's birthday on the "Today Show" on Friday, although actual human centenarians may pre-empt that.
The festivities begin in earnest with a pep assembly at noon on Friday, followed by an alumni assembly at 1 p.m. There will be parachutists at the homecoming game at 4 p.m., hot air balloon rides after the game, and a street party on 300 West.
On Saturday there will be more balloon rides, a 5K run, a breakfast, a carnival, the birthday party with aerial photo, a dinner and a homecoming dance.
Then, on Monday morning, West High will start all over again - this time on its second 100 years.