Sunday, July 19, 2015

Berea High, to Thee We Sing

Berea High, to thee we sing,
Laud and honor thus we bring.
Deeds of kindness thou hast taught,
With the knowledge that we sought.
Hail to thee, Berea High!
All our trust in thee will lie.
True to thee we'll always be,
Steadfast through eternity.
                                             - Berea High School Alma Mater
I am a proud 1970 graduate of Berea High School, a school which now longer officially exists.  The Berea School District includes the Cleveland suburbs of Berea, Middleburg Heights, Brook Park and a portion of Olmsted Falls (where I live).  There were two high schools in the district... Berea High School, and Midpark High School, which was built to serve the growing populations of Middleburg Heights and Brook Park.  For years the two high schools were sports rivals, and the football season always culminated in the Berea-Midpark game.  However, declining enrollment led to the decision a couple years ago to consolidate the two high schools.  Midpark High School became a junior high school, and Berea High School was renamed Berea-Midpark High School.
The original plan had been to build a brand new high school building and to sell the Berea High property.  However the tax levy to build a new school failed at the ballot box.  (I will admit that I voted against a school levy for the first time in my life.  I did not want to see my alma mater sold and probably torn down.)  After the defeat with the voters, the alternative plan of consolidating the two high schools in the old Berea High building went into effect.  So, although there no longer is a "Berea High School"... my old school is still standing under a new name. 
On Saturday afternoon, as a part of our 45 year high school reunion, we were given a tour of Berea High School...  I mean Berea-Midpark High School. 

The oldest section of Berea High was built in 1928.  It was called the "Million Dollar High School", and it was a beautiful work of architecture.  Several additions were added in later years.  The year before we entered the school as sophomores another addition was added to the front.  Unfortunately it hid the original building.  You might be able to discern a little bit of the old tower sticking up above the modern section.

(image from the web)
(This is what the original 1928 building looked like.)

This sculpture on the front of the new addition was a commissioned piece of original art.  It is called the "Tree of Knowledge", and it was very controversial at the time.  It cost $25,000... an amount which in those days would have paid the salaries of three teachers for a year.
(photo taken by another Berea High grad.)
Alejandro and I in front of my "alma mater"
Although there have been many changes to the building in the forty five years since we graduated, some parts of the building are much as we remember them.

A number of us in the tour group have fond memories of our biology teacher.  He was a fantastic educator...  one of those rare teachers who are able to make the class great fun but still make us learn.  We asked the tour guide to let us into his old classroom, and here we posed for a picture.  I am still in touch with him, and I intend to send him this photo of some of his old students who still remember all the fun we had in 10th grade biology.
(photo taken by Alejandro)
In the evening, the main event of our reunion was held at the American Legion Post in Berea.
It was a fun evening.  Only fraction of our graduating class of over 400 were in attendance, and I must admit that I did not have a clue who some of the people were (even after looking at their name tags).  But I had many nice conversations with former classmates, and even Alejandro had a good time talking with a number of my friends.
We'll do this all again in another five years!

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