Girard High School is being demolished. Yes, yes, I understand there is a beautiful, new building on Shannon Road and the students of Girard are still learning. But THE high school is being demolished.
I didn't go to Girard. When I was 3, my family moved from a three-bedroom Ranch on Shannon Road to a two-story home also on Shannon Road. But those few miles moved the Esposito children from the Girard School jurisdiction into that of Liberty.
Liberty and Girard were rivals when I was a kid. They still are. It was a fun rivalry. It was one we anticipated during each sporting event. In my memory, we cheered with more energy when we played Girard. Our band played better. Our cheerleaders had more pep. Our teams were tougher.
But doesn't high school always feel that way?
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of living on East Main Street, just down the road from the high school. In the late summer, we'd hear the percussion section of the band practicing as they marched through the streets. They'd pass by our house, the beat an infectious rhythm. My children and I would dance as they passed by. When they didn't return the following year, we missed them.
In the early fall, we could hear the sounds from the stadium echoing off the walls of St. Rose Church. My husband and I would sit on the porch in the growing cold of the season just to hear the fans cheering, the loudspeaker crackling, the band playing. With a new baby in the house, we never made it to a game.
My favorite thing about living close to the school was seeing the walkers. Those kids that didn't ride the bus or drive, but walked to school. Whether by choice or necessity, these teenagers would walk past our house in the wee hours of the morning and again in the afternoon. Their laughter could be heard as groups moved down the sidewalk as a single unit. Some would walk alone, with phone to ear. Others listened to music pouring audibly from headphones. Some would smile. Occasionally, someone would wave or stop to chat if the kids and I were outside.
When we first moved there, my husband and I discussed our concern with living that close to the high school. Perhaps there will be problems. You know how teenagers can be. At least stereotypically. Yeah, see, that's the problem. It's a stereotype. These kids are bright. They are dedicated. They are respectful.
The walkers were making memories that they will tell their children and their grandchildren. "I used to walk to school." Dramatic pause. "Sometimes in the snow ... uphill both ways." Well, you know how it goes.
The new high school is located next door the house I lived in as a toddler. We moved when I was three, but I still have very vivid memories from there.
I remember playing in the backyard on the teeter totter that my father made us. I remember the kids from the apartments would sometimes come over and hang out with my older brothers. I remember the little boy that lived next door and kept toy dinosaurs in his dresser drawers.
My sister and I used to watch the neighbor mow the empty lot. Now there's a school there.
I'm still surprised by its presence when I drive down Shannon Road.
I've heard some people discussing the new high school. That Girard spent too much money on it. That kids only go to school to do drugs, get pregnant, and cause violence. Honestly, I am just shocked at this kind of response.
I think of the drummers marching past my house. I think of the friendly smiles. I think of the laughter.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that these kids deserve a new building. While I am extremely nostalgic, I am also quite practical. The old school was built almost 90 years ago.
I don't live on Shannon Road anymore. But I wonder about the new location of the school. Are there still walkers?
I'm willing to bet that in the early hours of the school day, when the weather is nice, you might still see students walking to school. Maybe even in the snow. Uphill both ways.
Harley is a Howland resident. E-mail her at email@example.com.