Although I’m retired, for the past few weeks, I have been doing testing for the school system. Last Friday was spirit day. Teachers were asked to support the cause by wearing school colors from any of the three high schools that were once thriving in our city. My mind raced back to my high school days.
High school seems like a separate lifetime. Some thoughts are clear but many are just blurred memories. When I walked out of high school, I was sure that contact with a lot of classmates would be lost. After all, my graduating class was more than 400, but hoped that some friends would remain forever. Certainly the building would always be there… who would have thought differently? Well, Madison Heights closed in 1997, due to increasing costs and declining enrollment. A city that once housed three high schools was consolidated into one, and Madison Heights was no more. Sadly, it seemed that part of my heritage was lost.
When I arrived home after testing that day, I went through my cedar chest and pulled out my 42-year-old cheerleading sweater. It still looked the same as the day I packed it away. The sweater is 100% wool. I began to think about modern clothing. How many garments today are made of anything as durable as wool? How many could stand the test of time?
I turned the sweater inside out and examined the stitching. I remember watching my mom hand-stitch the large white-trimmed letter onto the black v-neck sweater. She had to use an upholstery needle to do the job. Each stitch was spaced accordingly to hold the letter in place. As I ran my fingers across the large letter “M”, thoughts of my friends and days-gone-by filled my mind. Many friends and even family were tied to that sweater.
Recently, I have begun reconnecting with several old high school friends. Some of us keep in touch through Facebook. My old sweater represents things that last. Friends are each stitch carefully placed to hold us together. Our friendship is like 100% wool, strong enough to stand the test of time. We have aged and gone our own ways, but we come together to cheer each other on through the highs and lows in our lives. I recall Principal Robert Collier coining the phrase “Walk Tall—Be Proud—You are a Pirate.” Our friendships are something to cheer about… something that lasts beyond a building. Friends… caring and cheering each other on to walk tall and remember we are not alone!