Please allow me to digress from my usual postings which are centered on the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Last weekend I visited by brother and sister in law who live near Smithville, Ohio. I stopped briefly to visit the grave of my parents who are buried in the Smithville Cemetery and to witness the passing of a bit of Americana. This post is dedicated to Harold Taylor who was one of my teachers when I attended Smithville High School (he and his wife live in Auburndale, Fl.), to Anita Rennecker who taught at the Smithville High School and is a good friend of my family, and to Beverly Beaver Crafton, who was a class mate at Smithville High School and taught at Smithville High.
This year when the students return to their Green Local Schools, they will be attending school in new buildings. The project is known as the new K-2 building project and replaces what I knew as the junior High School and the old High School which most recently was being used as the Greene Middle School. You can read more about the entire project at www.green-local.org.
About two years ago, I attended a fund raising event at the old High School. A group of alumni had formed the Green Township High School Preservation Society and tried to raise enough money to save the old high School building from the “wrecking ball”. That visit immediately took me back to the time when I was in high school. This beautiful old building which was built in 1939 by WPA labor has been kept in “show room” condition with its brick exterior, stone archway entrances, and terrazzo marble floors that showed no wear after 75 years of use! They were always kept spotlessly clean by Vern Sinclair the janitor. It was the hope of the preservation group to keep the old high school as an adult education center or community center, but they failed to raise the necessary funds as prescribed by the school board and the original plan to build new at a cost of 35 million dollars was set in motion by the school board. $23 million of the $35 million came from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission.
The old High School building, besides being my school for four years, reflected the thinking of the people who lived in Smithville, Ohio and the surrounding community in 1939. They were predominately farmers, business people, and shop keepers. It was just 10 years after the Great Depression and money was hard to come by. These people did not have the time or the resources to experiment. They took what was known and with the resources that they had, built the finest structure that they could build so they didn’t have to build it again. My father, Stanley D. Bupp, sat on the school board at the time when the old High School was built. He ran his farm much the same way as there was not enough time in the day or money to do things a second time. He would be very proud to learn that the old High School lasted for 75 years and that it had indeed withstood the test of time.
I would not want to have the job of designing a new school today. Technology is changing too fast. Yes, they are going to have Wi-Fi connections in every room, three gymnasiums to provide for some physical exercise, and a library. I don’t know what will be kept in the library – maybe a file of some apps which the students can download to use in their studies? There was no mention of large screen TV’s in every room where lectures could be delivered from anyplace in the world or the “cloud” that stores all of the world’s knowledge. There is of course the Wilbur Berkey Field House which was previously built and will host indoor sporting events. Mr. Berkey was the much loved basketball coach when I attended Smithville High School some 55 years ago.
My point is that the values of our society are rapidly changing along with today’s technology advances and since our schools reflect the values of society, schools must continually change in order to keep relevant. And that is why the new will always win over the old!