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  • 1886: According to various historical records, Cave Creek School District No. 23 was organized in 1886, and William Bailey was the first teacher at a salary of $65 per month.   The original schoolhouse was moved three times.
  • In 1896, Cave Creek's school was near the creek on the Howard Ranch.
  • 1897 to 1899: Alfred C. Lockwood taught 8 students, including his two younger brothers and a sister, while studying law. Judge Alfred Lockwood later served on the Arizona Supreme Court.
  • 1913: The school district was discontinued because of a lack of children.
  • 1930: Reorganization in September as Cave Creek School District No. 93 and the school was moved to about where Cave Creek Road crosses New River Road today. With the boom in population during dam building days, the school was moved to a main road. Materials, labor, money and food were donated, and another room was added to the school house and another teacher hired.
  • 1950: Cave Creek had "a little white (painted) school house run by Mrs. Charlotte L. Hawkins of Phoenix." The first Parent Teacher Association was formed during this time.
  • 1960: Little white school house closed and a new four-room school was completed and one room of the old school was designated to house the Cave Creek Branch Library at Schoolhouse and Cave Creek Roads.  A small corral was built behind the school for students' horses.
  • 1964: Another four-room school building was added at which time the corral was removed.
  • 1967: School enrollment had grown to 130 students with a staff of eight teachers.
  • 1970: 200 students attended Cave Creek School and the need for another school was apparent.
  • 1973: Black Mountain Elementary School was completed to educate older elementary students (grades 3-5).
  • 1974 the first committee met in Cave Creek to form a high school.  In the fall of 1982, the doors opened to the first campus located at 60th Street with grades 7-9,  where a new grade was added each year. 
  • 1984 (Fall): Construction of Cactus Shadows High School started and a new grade was added each year.
  • 1986: First Cactus Shadows High School graduating class with 57 students.
  • 1986: Voters approved a $16.9 million bond for construction of a new Transportation Center, expansion of Black Mountain Elementary School, construction of a new middle school and Fine Arts Center.
  • 1989: Desert Arroyo Middle School and the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center opened.
  • 1992: Voters again approved a bond, this time for $26 million.
  • 1995 (January): As part of this project, a new high school was constructed on the District's main 185-acre campus. The new school (still Cactus Shadows High School), was located just south of the previous high school site.  
  • 1995 (June): The original Cave Creek School closed its doors. 
  • 1995 (August): The previous high school was converted to Desert Sun Elementary School and opened its doors on a new era, giving the District two pre-kindergarten through fifth schools on the main educational campus.
  • 1995 (Fall): Black Mountain Elementary adds grades K-2.
  • 1995 (Fall): New building added to Cactus Shadows.
  • 1999 (Fall): Desert Willow Elementary School opened.
  • 2000 (January): Desert Sun Elementary School moved to its current location. 
  • 2000 (January): Half of the Desert Arroyo student body was moved to Sonoran Trails Middle School (the former Desert Sun Elementary and current Black Mountain Elementary).  
  • 2002: Lone Mountain Elementary School opened.
  • 2005: Horseshoe Trails Elementary School opened.
  • 2006: Sonoran Trails Middle School opens at current location.
  • 2006: Black Mountain Elementary reopened at its current location.
  • 2010: Desert Arroyo Middle School was closed.
  • 2010 (August): Desert Sun Elementary name changed to Desert Sun Academy.
  • 2012: Cactus Shadows new Administration building was built.
  • 2014 (March): Cave Creek Elementary School was sold.
  • 2014 (Spring): Cactus Shadows new Track installed
  • 2014 (Fall): Cactus Shadows Cafeteria renovation.
  • 2015 (Fall): Cactus Shadows Falcon Stadium Turf field installed.
  • 2016 (Fall): Cactus Shadows Fieldhouse opened.
  • 2016 (Fall): Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center renovation complete.
  • 2016 (Winter): Cactus Shadows new 56th Street Parking lot for sports complex.
  • 2016 (Winter): Transportation Training Building opens.
  • 2017(Spring):
    Black Mountain Elementary Renovation, new Administration office
    Cactus Shadows new Baseball and Softball Fields
    Cactus Shadows Tennis Complex (4 new courts/4 resurfaced courts)
    Cactus Shadows new Shot put and discus area
    Cactus Shadows new home bleachers


Thank you to Evelyn Johnson, Executive Director of the Cave Creek Museum, for her assistance in recreating this timeline.