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Fairbanks Middle School

Education / Middle and High Schools

Fairbanks Rd,
Morenci, AZ 85540

(928) 865-3501

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Formal education in Morenci dates back to the early 1900s with the construction of Longfellow School, a six-room, one-story building in 1902, that opened to over 300 students in first through eighth grades. According to Roberta Watts in her dissertation on the history of Morenci, in 1956 there were seven elementary schools servicing students in the Morenci area besides the high school: Longfellow, Band Building, Coronado, Humbolt, Plantsite and East Plantsite, all named after mining claims. At the helm of Morenci School District was Joseph Fairbanks, superintendent since 1939, supervising 91 teachers and administrators. Old Morenci High School graduated its last senior class in the spring of 1982. The next school year began in a new, $10 million facility which serviced ninth through twelfth graders for six years. But it was during three tumultuous years from 1983 to 1986 that Morenci experienced enrollment loss due to the strike and eventually closed four kindergarten to fourth grade elementary schools: Coronado, Modoc, Humboldt, and Plantsite (aka Longfellow II). As a result in 1988, Fairbanks Middle School became Fairbanks Elementary School, housing kindergarten through sixth grades, and the district’s seventh and eighth graders were relocated, once again, to Morenci High School, renamed as Morenci Junior/Senior High School. Morenci USD opened its cafeteria building, adding three classrooms to Fairbanks, in February of 1994, providing a place to eat for both Fairbanks and Morenci Junior/Senior High students. Working as assistant principal under Mr. Epperson for nearly a decade, Mr. Phil Martinez began the 1996-1997 school year as principal, switching roles with Mr. Epperson for one year. As Freeport McMoRan acquired Phelps Dodge in 2007, enrollment continued to grow leading to plans to build a new elementary school, Metcalf, on property adjacent to Fairbanks. Metcalf opened its doors for the 2013-2014 school year, forcing another change for Fairbanks. With Mr. Phil Martinez ending his long, Morenci career with the restoration of the school to its original state of service, to fifth through eighth graders, Mr. David Gonzales stepped into the principal position of Fairbanks Middle School, marking the return of the previous year’s seventh graders from the junior/senior high school.