An Oral History of the Spotlight, and Denver East High School

In 1921, Denver’s population was just over 250,000. The city had just entered its seventh decade. Streetcars and, more and more, Ford Model T’s crawled past the recently-opened Ogden Theater on dusty East Colfax Avenue. The downtown skyline was hardly a skyline — comprised of buildings mostly no taller than 15 stories. Many of the city’s teenagers attended the “Old East” high school at the corner of 19th and Stout, in the heart of what is today downtown Denver.

On Apr. 7 of that year, a small group of students — boys who were part of a writers’ group, the Scribbler’s Round Table — published the first issue of the East High Spotlight newspaper. Its first editor was Frank Johnston, who was also president of the Round Table. By the end of the 1920-1921 school year, the small staff had published five more issues.

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