my school, my town, my home

It is with great sadness that I mark the passing of my old High School and former haunting grounds back home in Ohio. The 2009 school year was the last graduating class to to roll through those doors and roam those halls and now the school is being demolished... bit by bit and piece by piece. The new high school lies on the outskirts of town... away from the heart and soul of the town I once knew.

My mom taught Home Ec at Hillsboro High School for 34 years, in the same room located at the back at the end of the main hallway of the new building. To get there, you'd walk past the office, past the teachers lounge, past rooms filled for the knowledge of English, Spanish, and Social Studies and past the art room. Just past her room was the tunnel that led to the old building, the cafeteria, the gym, the locker rooms, the old shop class, and the Jr. High.

Throughout my youth, my mother would often bring my brother and I to the school after hours or during the summer when she had work to do or home ec. groceries to drop off. I remember those times when the hallways being dark, cool, and oddly - empty of chatter. My brother and I would commonly race each other down the hallways, up the stairs and often go explore the nooks and crannies of the building. I think by the time I graduated, I had found every secret passage way, crawl space, and hiding spot in that building. My brother, as a freshman in high school, even redesigned the senior courtyard which lay at the heart of the campus. Walking between classes over those bricks engraved with the names of people who have walked these grounds as well, always made me smile and think of David. To me the high school wasn't just a building where I spent the 8th-12th grade years of my life... it was so much deeper than that. And I think if it's hard for me to see it go... I can't imagine what it's like for my mom. I hate the fact when she drives the two miles from our house to downtown, she won't be passing by the grand old high school anymore that was her home away from home for 34 years... she'll be passing by an empty lot.

My town has changed. Naturally the whole world growing up used to revolve around my little corner of town; my home is the last home on the last street on the west side of town, right off Route 50. Across the street from my hill is the Diary Queen. Right next to that was the Stock Yards. Go into town from there and you pass the pool... where I spent almost every day of my summers growing up (when not at the ball park, at camp, or forced to stay home and work on my 4-H projects). I even worked there as a lifeguard once I was old enough. A few blocks away from the pool was the Library and the High School. Down the street from the High School was the other Stock Yards. A few blocks away from the High School was the Elementary School. A few blocks away from that was the Grocery Store and then the bank where my dad worked. Everything was so centrally located, so compact, so walkable, bikeable, and liveable. Tree lined streets with old houses that had been stops on the underground railway nestled right in the thick of down town, close to it all, close to the action.

What is left now? The stock yards are gone, the downtown schools are all gone. Things that seem to be taking their place are Wal Marts, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Dollar Trees, and Dress Barns. They all line the roads that lead to the next county, things that provide for you on your way out of town. The true heart and the soul of the city is gone, it's been replaced by cheap everyday crap, the same things that line every mid sized town all across the Midwest. Nothing sets us apart... nothing makes us different anymore. It saddens me to go home. It pains me to see store front after store front empty. I know my parents have been active in the community and they care. My dad while on City Council and the Festival of the Bells Committee worked damn hard to keep things thriving. But, there is only so much you can do.

I am not looking forward to seeing the remnants when I return for the holidays.

All these photos come from a great set on flickr that someone shot during the auction for things that were in the school. Check them out and remember the magic of the little details that you forgot.

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