|Hiram School, 1961|
The school was probably near my consciousness (it's always near my conscience!) since I'd written a little bit about it in yesterday's post. Hiram High School is no more. The last class to graduate was the Class of 1964 (two years after mine); the next fall the Hiram students went to Crestwood Schools in nearby Mantua (pronounced MAN-uh-way for those of you not from the region). And they still do. The building was razed. Nothing but grass now where glory once grew.
There was some debate in Hiram when the school had to close--Should the students go to Garrettsville (3 mi away) or Mantua (5)? The township vote was for Mantua, but a few kids (like my younger brother) went to Garrettsville anyway, paying tuition to do so.
Anyway, stumbling today, I was thinking about Hiram because during my time in the Hiram Schools--from seventh grade through graduation (1956-62)--I was interested most of all in sports. Practices and games trumped everything else, schoolwork included (maybe even especially schoolwork). Well ... almost. One time my mother made me perform in a group piano recital, a command performance that meant I would miss a basketball practice. (Those in the recital audience, I am confident, would have preferred I'd been practicing foul shots.)
But--I thought of myself as an athlete first; everything else was second.
And in Hiram--a tiny, tiny school--I got to play on the teams I wanted (basketball, baseball--we had no football team), and because I got to play, I improved ... sort of. I was always more eager than talented, a lesson I learned (but ignored in high school) in college when I went out for the freshman basketball team (I was confident: I'd been All-County my senior year...2nd team) and discovered that there were lots of guys who were better than I. Lots better. I sat for most of the games, moving farther and farther down the bench until I blended with the crowd. I quit before the season was over.
Anyway, since early boyhood--since I could stand and walk, actually--I took my physical grace, such as it was, for granted. (Ah, youth!) Okay, so I wasn't going to be a great athlete, but I was good enough, say, to fool Joyce. Our first date in July 1969 was on the tennis court (I'd been a varsity player at Hiram College--but only because our team was kind of, uh, challenged), and I looked pretty good to her (tennis-wise--let's not get ahead of ourselves).
Throughout my ensuing life, I continued to take physical capacity and agility for granted. When I was nearly 50, I went alone to Alaska, hiked over the Chilkoot Pass into the Yukon Territory--all because I was curious about Jack London and The Call of the Wild. It didn't occur to me that I might not be up to it. (I very nearly wasn't, by the way--and my left knee has never been the same.)
Anyway, Age and Vertigo, that dynamic duo, have humbled me--not that I needed all that much humbling anymore.
But about Hiram High School. Here's what I wanted to say. Because it was small, lots of kids got to do lots of things they never would have been able to in a larger system. In my own case--here's a list of the activities I participated in in high school:
- drama productions
- Future Teachers of America (I had no clue)
- school newspaper
- student government
There were others; I'm too lazy to stand up and go over and look in my yearbooks. (And, you know, I might fall on the way across the room.)
Later--when I became a teacher myself (a 45-year occupation)--I realized that because I'd been involved in all those things back at Hiram High, I was better able to understand my students, no matter what school activity(ies) they were pursuing. Also--I became advisor to any number of student activities in my career, activities I knew about principally because of those Hiram High years.
So, thank you, Hiram High School ... for everything.
And ... Go, Huskies!