My wife and I had a very traditional Saturday night date last weekend. We ordered in for dinner and then headed down to a local high school auditorium for the premiere of a “home made” movie celebrating the life of our township’s first community high school. It’s a very nice coincidence that this comes just after my “Memory Days” post last week. We once had eight large high schools in our district and now we’re down to six. The first to close its doors was the first one built. Arlington Heights H.S. was opened in 1922 and graduated its last class in 1984. A member of one of the last classes felt “The Lady in Red” deserved to have her story told, so he spent three years interviewing and assembling photos and old footage to put together a great story available on DVD. Since the first showing was sold out, we went to the second of the night and there were still very few of the 1500 seats open.
Just in case you’re seeing a big white space below, I have been reminded that many schools block YouTube and that’s where the video streams from. So scroll down to the conclusion and try again from home to see the "Lady in Red" trailer.
The community appreciated having an important part of its history recorded and its story shared by and for generations. The story is structured by decade, based on alumni (going back to the class of ‘32) sharing their memories of the building and society, local and national, that they were growing into. He did a great job of showing the symbiotic relationship between the actual building as it grew and changed, and the staff and students who grew and changed with it. Especially touching was a recording of the principal’s closing words at the final assembly on the very last day. He spoke as if he were the building, “sad that my halls will no longer echo with the sounds…” yet proud of the almost three full generations that passed through the doors. “Class to the Last” was the motto the students and teachers adopted for the last few years and after more than an hour of watching the decades race by on the auditorium’s big screen, we could see why.
You don’t have to spend years interviewing and researching to record bits and pieces of your school’s or community’s history (or your own family for that matter). Start a website or a DVD with 1 to 3 minute pieces, one little story at time.