School Names: Goddard and Oñate

by Mike Magers

Goddard High School in Roswell (Chavez County) was named for Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945).  Dr. Goddard was a physicist who is considered to be the father of modern rocketry.  Attracted by the vast open areas and mild weather of southeastern New Mexico, he came to Roswell in the summer of 1930 after many years of research in the eastern US.  For the next 12 years, he did rocket research in the area.  Among his many achievements, he is credited for developing successful liquid fuel rockets, perfecting rocket construction and developing the use of vanes and gyroscopic controls.  Dr. Goddard is credited with 214 patents in various areas of science.  Appropriately, Goddard High School’s mascot is the Rockets.

Goddard High School was completed in 1965 and is part of the Roswell ISD.  It was constructed during the Cold War and most of its original classrooms were underground, designed to serve as underground bomb shelters in the event of a nuclear attack.  In its relatively short existence, Goddard has won 49 state championships in sports: 8 in football, 11 in volleyball, 1 in boys basketball, 3 in baseball, 10 in boys golf and 18 in girls golf.

Oñate High School in Las Cruces (Doña Ana County) was named for Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550–1626), a Spanish Conquistador, explorer, and colonial governor of the Santa Fe de Nuevo México province then known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, after leading successful campaigns in Mexico against the Chichimec Indians, he received permission from Phillip II of Spain to lead early expeditions to the Great Plains and Lower Colorado River Valley. A controversial figure in history for his harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples, Oñate founded settlements within the province, before moving on to other parts of the southwest while continuing with other explorers to search for treasure, including the fabled Seven Cities of Gold (Cibola).

Oñate High School is part of the Las Cruces ISD and was completed 1988.  Its mascot is the Knights.  Oñate has won several state championships as of this writing, including one aquatic championship and three girls track and field championships.

[From time to time we may write about other school names, if we feel that there is some historical connection to the state of New Mexico.]

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