Alumni returned from across the country to say goodbye.
By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- More than 100 alumni of North High School came Friday to say tearful goodbyes to their alma mater. The building, which is currently North Elementary School, will be demolished this fall.
"Everyone I talked to was passionate about the school. Instead of just closing it and not saying anything, I wanted everyone to have a chance to say goodbye," said Tiffany Bowman, coordinator of the "Reminiscence Walk-Through." She has two daughters attending North.
The halls were crowded with former and current students. Some people rejoiced at seeing old friends while others cried quietly. Others were angry.
"I'm upset. I can't believe they are tearing our school down," said Yolanda Lewis, a 1968 graduate.
The walk-through was sponsored by "Parents as Partners," the parent-teacher group of North Elementary.
Ernie Anderson of EJ Photography volunteered his services to photograph North alumni for a mural at the new school. Although he went to East High School, North's rival, he said that he felt it was important to help out.
His wasn't the only camera flashing. Many alumni brought their own cameras and took photographs of the building and old friends, knowing it was their last chance.
Many of the returning alumni still live in the Mahoning Valley. Others traveled many miles to see the school one last time. Karl Eskew traveled from Maryland to say goodbye.
Glenda House, a 1968 graduate of North High, said, "I'm trying to be strong for everyone else, but I'm sure I'll cry later."
House's daughters attended North Junior High and now she has grandchildren at North Elementary. She helped coordinate the walk-through.
Catherine Dorbish, the current North principal, invites anyone who missed Friday's walk-through to come see the school before it closes Wednesday.
North High School was built in 1956. The last class of seniors graduated in 1980, after which it was turned into a junior high. For the past seven years, North has served as an elementary school. The school is located at 2724 Mariner Ave.
"The new building will be designed as an elementary school," said Tony DeNiro, executive director of Youngstown school business affairs. "We've made changes to the school, but it's never been very good architecturally as an elementary school."
The new school, which will cost $8.3 million, will be completed on the existing site in about two years. It will be 56,000 square feet in area and accommodate 460 students, he said.
For the next two years, the students and staff will be housed at the old Martin Luther King building on Covington Street while construction is completed.
"Some parents have been worried that everything will be different at the MLK building, but it's going to be the same teachers teaching the same students," Principal Catherine Dorbish said. "It's exciting because students deserve a new building."
Wayne Lewis, a part of the last graduating class of North High School in 1980, came "to get old memories back and see old faces."
Eric Posey, a 1978 graduate and former athlete, reminisced about teachers who pushed him to do more than play basketball.
"Which is good, because once I put the ball down, I really needed math," Posey said.
He currently lives in the Washington D.C. area and is a pastor at Union Temple.
His best friend since high school, John Tate, agreed. "The education here was good and the teachers were committed," Tate said.
"Because of this school, we were both able to go to college and get degrees," he explained. "And we were both able to get into the Christian ministry."
Tate, a 1980 graduate, is currently a chaplain for the Department of Corrections and a full-time pastor at the Metropolitan Church in Youngstown.
Posey said there was another reason he came back for the walk-through.
"I came back because I owe this school," he said. "In spite of what they said about what we didn't have, this school had a whole lot of love."