The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

August 14, 2013

Jim Bailey: Schools come and go, but old loyalties die a slow death

Recently I caught some Internet conversation surrounding the notice of an open house for the Anderson Marching Highlanders. Yeah, that band, which took fourth at the State Fair.

This begins the third year since the consolidation of Anderson’s two remaining public high schools. I’m told very few problems involving the students themselves have been reported. School athletic teams proudly wear the Red and Green. And yes, the band struts its stuff in elegant tartan kilts and Scottish plaid.

Some of the online comments, however, remind us that old loyalties die as hard as a Delco battery. Highland grads decry their displacement as eagerly as old Madison Heights loyalists lament the loss of their school to a transplanted crosstown rival. Many have repeated vows never to acknowledge an Anderson High School band in kilts nor accept Indian motif throughout the building at 4610 Madison Ave.

Highland is now a middle school. Madison Heights is gone, almost unrecognizable amid the complete interior reconstruction and exterior refacing emblematic of a brand-new high school. What remains is a monument (none dare call it a tombstone) to the school that was.

It is probably neither unexpected nor surprising that the memories and loyalties accrued in four years of classes and extracurriculars at one’s alma mater invoke deep and lasting emotions neither easily forgotten nor forgiven. Change is a constant in an educational process determined to keep up with the times, but it cannot erase the experiences of one’s growing-up years.

That experience is not limited to Madison Heights and Highland. The Pendleton-Markleville consolidation some four decades ago was comparably painful. Northside came and went in Muncie, as did Haworth in Kokomo, which was occupied by rival colors some years before MHHS faded into history. Or ask alumni of Summitville, Fairmount, Royerton, Sweetser, Swayzee, Hartford City, Hancock Central, Fortville, Michigan City Elston and Rogers, East Chicago Washington and Roosevelt, and on and on.

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