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The End of An Era
When we moved into the quiet residential area in 2007, there was a elementary school being torn down about 10 minutes away. Old school desks and chairs dumped into a big pile to be taken or destroyed.
I never realized that a school building being torn down could be such a sad sight. In particular, the thought of wanting to take your kids or grandkids to see your old stomping grounds, only to find out that it has been stomped into the ground. With leftover students being crammed into another school down the road; adding to the stress of an already overburdened principal.
Along the way, we saw the closings of local libraries and the shutting down of the city bus line that -- along with taking regular patrons to and fro -- made special trips to pick up and drop off hundreds of elderly citizens to Community Hospital for their various medical needs.
Little did I know that out of my four boys, only three would be afforded the opportunity to graduate from the local middle/high school that had served the area for several decades. That my 17 year old would be a part of the final graduating class. That my 13 year old would only be able to enjoy his sixth and seventh grade year. Having to be forced into a brand "new" school for his eighth grade year. A school that possibly few to none of his school chums would be attending as well -- depending on separation lines determined by what section of the neighborhood they lived in.
The Final Countdown
With a world wide pandemic that sidelined students for a year and a half; putting a kibosh on junior proms and putting stringent stipulations on Senior year activities due to social distancing ... The proverbial cherry on top of the rancid sundae was remembering that this was the end of the road for a beloved institution. A institute of learning that won countless honors over the years and was named a top institute of learning in news periodicals ... Donald E. Gavit.
Superintendent Scott Miller and the Hammond school board voted to tear down several schools in order to build a brand new one that would serve as a shrine to their administration. Never mind the protests of parents and cries of students worried about going from top string in sports to possibly being pushed to the end of the bench after being forced into a new conjoined edifice.
Protests and cries as Mr. Miller stood at the podium during town meetings; not moderating, so much as scrolling on his cell phone as adults and students literally begged him not to shutter their schools. But obviously these meetings were just held to placate a heartbroken community when decisions had already been made; wrecking balls and greased and ready to go.
Don't Let This Feeling End
Kudus to the students that kept their heads, in order to graduate on time and not suffer the humiliation of repeating their Senior year in a foreign setting.
On a sunny 80+ degree day, with the threat of rain looming in the background, one hundred (and some change) students dressed in their Sunday best, zipped up their paid for gowns and straightened their tassels.
Two tickets per student for social distancing. All others needed to sit behind a "velvet rope" on the lawn as the combined congregation of well wishers celebrated their love ones' biggest day so far of their lives.
Glowing speeches by the class president, salutatorian, valedictorian and principal. Details of top ten highest grade point averages and plans for the future ....
Then a jumbled exit that didn't resemble at all what was practiced for two straight hours on the day before. Graduates adjourning beyond the gates into the parking lot. Adjourned to receive their real diplomas and other final paperwork and take photos against the backdrop of Wolf Lake, with sailboats and geese highlighting the images.
Stepping out into the real world ....
Perhaps forgetting for a minute that the option of visiting former teachers would not be possible next term. Because there would be no next term. Not even Summer School. Donald E. Gavit Middle/High School was no more.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 LaZeric Freeman