Students go to work on 'D' hill

It could be any group of kids on a warm Sunday morning in May, as students from Douglas High School gather in tight knots around their vehicles in the school's parking lot.

But this time it's the Block D Letterman's Club, and they've gathered to make a little Douglas High history. The hillside "D" , marking the home of the Douglas High School Tigers is being moved to a hill just west of Kingsbury Grade. For as long as most can remember that 'D' has adorned the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada.

"This project is the biggest we've done. The entire football team will be here," club president Kim Gitthens said, noting that the new location is more accessible, and they will be using white rock that won't have to be painted every year.

"This will be part of the legacy from our class." Gitthens said.

The club's Vice President, Joe Andrews, concurred.

"This is our way of leaving our signature," the towering defensive end for the Douglas High football team said.

The kids provide the enthusiasm, sweat and muscle, but organization of the project was spearheaded by Coach Ernie Monfiletto, offensive coordinator for the football team and Block D Club advisor.

"He's the one who got Block D going. It had been inactive for a number of years," head football coach Mike Rippee said.

Membership is limited to those high school students that have earned a letter in any sport during their high school years, and recently membership has meant doing some form of community service such as reading to elementary school students, painting a house, or helping infirmed locals with chores.

"The kids benefit," parent Bill Johnson said as he grabbed a bag of rock and set it against the base of the hill. "It gives them a great sense of community when they pitch in and do these things."

Monfiletto was the first to emphasize that this was a community effort. Contributions of lumber and rock as well as money were collected from numerous businesses around Carson Valley.

"A lot of people over the years have been trying to fix that old "D," but it's hard to access." Dan Hickey said."Ernie came along, and approached us about donating the land so it could be moved."

Monfiletto, however, was the first to emphasize that it was a community effort. Contributions of lumber and rock as well as money were collected from numerous businesses around Carson Valley.

Dan and Laura Hickey, whose family has lived in Carson Valley for at least four generations, offered the space from their ranch up the hill just west of Kingsbury Grade.

Dan Hickey noted that he has climbed that hill to paint the original"D" more than once as a student.

"When we did it, the whole school went up," Hickey said. "The creamerie used to donate five-gallon milk cans for the paint, and we used to paint it every year. It was a terrible hike," he said, noting that the ordeal was always followed by a day of events for the kids. "The baseball diamond was behind The French. We'd have intermural races, and a barbeque. It was a fun day for the whole school."


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