The VIEW from here
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go inside the old Lapeer High School/White Junior High building to take a few photos. I had been itching to get in there for years, just to see what the place looked like.
I posted a number of the photos I took inside the crumbling old school on the Growing Up Lapeer page on Facebook, dredging up a lot of memories from people who attended school there. The auditorium brought up remembrances of past performances and eighth-grade graduations from the country schools around the county. Talking about the gym led one man to remember the old floor that had “dead spots,” and said his team would kind of herd the opposing team’s players to those spots and then score on them. The glimpses of the long, arched hallways brought up memories of old girlfriends and first kisses.
I attended seventh and eighth grade at that school, and it was amazing to me how I still remembered which locker had been mine, and which classes I had in the rooms. I remembered where Mrs. Vieau taught math — boy she hated me for some unknown reason. I was terrified to take messages to her room when I was an office assistant.
I also had a lot of memories from that bright room upstairs, where Mr. Supernault taught science. He was my favorite teacher by far, of all my years in Lapeer Community Schools. Judging by comments made on Facebook, Mike was a favorite for many students, and he continues still to lift us, his former students, up with his encouraging comments. He, too, has fond memories of the years he spent teaching in that room.
“Loved those windows... from egg drops, paper planes, bird feeders to getting snow to throw at students while explaining glaciers, it served me well,” Supernault reminisced on Facebook. “I can still remember the smell of spring out those windows... hanging banners after great basketball seasons, looking out of parent-teacher conferences before heading north... so many fond memories.”
Junior high and high school years are often looked back upon as some of the best, perhaps because they are really some of the last times we get to experience as kids, and our memory is by that point developed enough to retain the experiences. It is an incredible time in a person’s life. We are working on deciding what to do with the rest of our lives, preparing to move away from our childhood home, going through the ups and downs of first love.
For many of us around here, our memories are scattered about in that old building, ground into the stairs we fell down, scratched into the lockers we shared, echoing off the auditorium walls. Our sweat drips became a part of the old gym floor, dead spots and all, and if we listen closely enough, we can still hear the cheers after the game-winning threepointer.
We see the dust of neglect and remember the chalk dust on the hands of our favorite teacher. Scraps of paper on the floor remind us of the notes we passed in class, getting us our first detention. The building is held up by little more than our memories at this point, and it is bittersweet to many of us who went there.
What will become of that old building remains to be seen. Some say tear it down, because it requires so much work and has no historical value according to the powers that be. Others feel real pain at the thought of the building being reduced to rubble, because of what it meant to us.
While the loss may be painful, bulldozers can’t scrape away our memories, and I feel grateful for the opportunity I had to attend school in that building, to revisit it this many years later, and to share my photographs with people who loved it as well.