Bye Bye Junior High

The junior high I attended officially closed down last Thursday. I always figured I’d be much older if something like this happened.

The school is 60 years old and the district feels it would be too costly to upgrade the buildings.  When I attended back in the mid-90’s it seemed like the school needed several repairs back then, so I can just imagine what the repairs would cost now.  Still, I felt a little lump in my throat knowing that my school will eventually be torn down. 

I didn’t attend this school for my 7th grade year.  For 7th grade I was living a city over and going to the newest junior high in the area, Bogle.  At that time, Bogle was in the middle of nowhere.  When my class had to run the mile in P.E., the back part of the field bordered a farm and you could feel the eyes of the cows following you as you passed.  The toilets in the bathrooms flushed automatically and the sinks operated on motion sensors.  The majority of the kids were a little more privileged than me and occasionally I got hassled about that by the older kids at the school.  I tried not to let the snobs ruin my mood.

The following year we moved right across the street from Mesa Jr. and that became my school for the next two years.  It was the oldest junior high in the area and mid-way through my first semester there, the school sent home a letter to parents assuring them that even though the school contained a small amount of asbestos and that at this time, the district couldn’t afford to safely remove the asbestos, the levels were nothing that would affect the health of students attending the school.

The surrounding area was and still is on the low end of the economic scale and the few kids I kept in contact with from Bogle looked at me in disbelief that I, an honor student, was thriving at a “rough” school.  Yet despite being in advanced classes and involved in band, I had no problems making friends at this school.  It had a true feeling of community.

I ran into some of the best teachers at this school.  My world history/geography teacher Mr. Hillebrand had traveled to nearly every continent and would bring in artifacts from whatever region we happened to be studying.  He also made sure to connect location, culture and religion together.  Later when I took Religions of the World for a humanities credit in college, I was able to breeze through this course because Mr. Hillebrand had already taught the material being covered in my college class.

The science teachers were like my second family as I was a science aide.  If I was running late for a class following lunch for whatever reason (usually volunteering on some science project), they’d always cover for me by calling me in late for the next class.  More than once when they’d order lunch for themselves in the science teacher’s lounge they invite me over so I could skip the cafeteria food.

The librarians, Ms. Young and Ms. Jacquette were simply awesome and encouraged my love of reading.  If I needed to complete a book report fast, they were always on hand for suggested reading.  Later in high school when I needed to rack up major volunteer hours for National Honor Society, they told me to come on in and work in the library after school.  I’m told Ms. Young had continued to volunteer with the school after retiring a few years ago, but sadly Ms. Jacquette died recently.  Her obit was actually on the same page in the newspaper as my grandma’s obit.

The school had a closing celebration at the end of April which I did not find out about until last week.  Doesn’t matter though, I would not have been able to attend the ceremony that day.  An older cousin of mine who was a teacher at the school for many years went to the celebration and gave me a quick update about some of the staff there.

This is my goodbye to a place that housed many happy memories for me.

To all you Mesa Jr. High Eagles past and present – keep flying and reaching for the sky!

News articles about Mesa Jr. High closing:

http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/18614777/mesa-junior-high-school-closing-thursday?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7326678

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/article_d186f3fc-7df1-11e1-8fb4-001a4bcf887a.html

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