by John G. Miller
I had the chance to return to my alma mater (some would call it the scene of the crime) the other day as I spoke at the Washington Irving Middle School honors assemblies and banquet.
Of course when I attended, it was still a high school, but those days are long gone.
What hasn't changed at the school is the staff's commitment to education. I was impressed by the decorum of most of the students, who were attentive and well-behaved.
I was equally impressed with the numerous awards the students received for outstanding efforts in various subjects.
And at that evening's awards banquet, it was great to see about 200 people in attendance as 77 students received academic letters and awards for maintaining a 3.85 or higher grade point average throughout the year.
To see those bright students and their proud parents enjoying the evening was a rewarding experience for me.
I'm told some schools don't have academic awards programs, and that's too bad. Putting the spotlight on academic achievement is a great way to motivate students.
It's great that the WI staff, under the guidance of Principal Bill Fratto and Assistant Principal Devon Raddish, works to showcase academic success. Kudos also to teachers Cynthia Preston and Phil Wyatt, who played key roles in the assemblies and banquet.
SOME THINGS CHANGE, SOME STAY THE SAME: While WI has changed significantly since I walked the halls more than 20 years ago, some things haven't.
While the teachers and administration are different, there's still that commitment to education. That's a good thing.
But some of the other "old things" I noticed weren't so pleasing.
The auditorium is in need of a major overhaul. The seats have been there since the 1950s, when they were transferred from the old Moore's Opera House. It's nice to preserve history, but sitting on seats from the Depression era isn't exactly comfortable -- or safe. (I'm told the seats will be replaced this summer.)
There have been some other cosmetic changes, but the building itself dates back to the early 1900s. It's the oldest middle school building in the county, and it definitely shows.
I know there are people who don't like to talk about new school facilities because the discussion usually includes consolidation, but students at WI, as well as Lumberport Middle (which dates back to 1928), deserve better facilities.
John G. Miller is managing editor of The Exponent Telegram. He can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org