Guest Blog: A Farewell to the Home of the Braves (Video)
This blog was written by Townsquare Berkshire Market President Peter Barry, Taconic High School graduate Class of 1980. He took a farewell tour of Taconic High School over the weekend:
For some people, high school was a magical time. They were at the height of their popularity, they were an all-star in sports, or perhaps the class Valedictorian. I can’t say that any of those things applied to me, and yet, when it was announced that the old Taconic would be open for tours this past weekend, I was drawn to the opportunity to tour the hallowed halls of the home of the Braves, one last time.
When I entered Taconic for the first time in the fall of 1977, Jimmy Carter was president, the price of gas was $0.62 and I had hair to my shoulders like most of my fellow students at that time. Taconic was still in relatively good condition then, as it had opened only eight years prior. Now -- 41 years later -- Donald Trump is president, gas is $3.00 per gallon and the full head of hair I sported in 1977 has given way to a receding hairline. My, how times change.
I entered the school through the front lobby and stopped at a table where they were signing up people who wanted to purchase bricks to remember the school by. Current Pittsfield Schools Superintendent Jake McCandless was there to greet visitors and answer questions. I bumped into some former classmates and we headed down to the academic wing. Onward we went, past my home room, where Mr. Curley taught algebra, past the science labs, where everyone recalled Mr. Murray, Mrs. Swartz and “Ma” Barry, and the “lecture room” where Mr. Byron taught social studies. I even ducked my head into the boys room and shook my head as I thought about how we used to “pitch quarters” against the bathroom wall between classes. I can’t believe I ever picked up quarters off a filthy men’s room floor. Ah, the ignorance of youth.
I left the academic wing and stopped to peruse a box of yearbooks that were set up for people to browse -- I hope the hairstyles of the 70's never come back! I then headed down the corridor and walked through the gym thinking about how much smaller it seemed all these years later. I then popped my head in the auditorium and continued on my journey.
Check out a short video of the Taconic High School tour:
As I walked through the back lobby, I gazed out at the back parking lot where many people would sit on “the hill” to smoke cigarettes, and whatever else they might have been consuming (this was the 70's after all). I thought about how times have changed. Back then in the winter, they let students smoke in the back lobby in the morning because it was so cold out. It amazes me to this day how society as a whole was so slow to recognize the dangers of tobacco.
I continued my journey past some, now, almost empty trophy cases, stopped into the cafeteria and then continued on to the vocational wing. I was able to visit the machine shop, the metal fab shop, carpentry shop and auto mechanics. I thought about how many trades people got their start in these rooms and the businesses they operate today. It’s ironic, because back then, people who were in vocational were called “vokies” and were sometimes looked down upon by students taking college prep. Many of the so called “vokies” got the last laugh as they went on to earn very good livings in their chosen fields.
I left the vocational wing and made my way past the guidance office and the principal’s office, where I thought about Vice Principal Diamond and how he would dye his beard green on Saint Patrick’s Day. As I circled back to the main lobby I realized how little in the school had actually changed. Aside from a few upgrades here and there, everything was pretty much the same as when I left it in the spring of 1980 -- and that’s when it hit me how badly we really needed the new high school.
When the idea of a new high school was first brought up, it seemed crazy to me to tear down the current Taconic. But after seeing it, I realized the condition of the school today is not what the next generation of students deserve. It was a great walk down memory lane, and there is a part of me that hates to see it go, but as I walked out the front doors and looked at the new Taconic in front of me, I knew it was the right choice.