Changes to past schools threaten to sow resentment

Too bad I won’t be around long enough to benefit from that.” I’ve been having that thought quite often lately, as no doubt other students sometimes have as well.

Last month was a colossal moment for my high school – Lutheran West in Rocky River, Ohio. The grass football field was replaced with a state-of-the-art turf surface. But I didn’t see the change as an improvement to the football field; to me, it was the marching band field.

For four years I marched in step over that green, most of the time through it when mud puddles threatened to send me sliding into a somersault over my sousaphone. And there were no spikes on the soles of my marching shoes.

L-Dub’s got its remodeling sights set beyond athletics, too. The Jochum Auditorium – little more than a small gym with a stage and sterile, iron chairs that needed to be set up for each performance – is next up to be revitalized. The virtual walkthrough of the architect’s design showed stadium seating comparable to Cinemark. And a reserved area for the Pit Band.

I began to wonder if I’d even remember what my school looked like after all these changes. Problems I’d seen while I was a student were solved, and without a doubt future students would experience all the benefits without the growing pains.

The same could be said for Gannon, too. I’m in my last year and most likely I’ll move from Erie when I graduate. I’ll only hear about the remodeled Nash Library and CAP through the university phone calls asking me for donations to pay off the debt; I won’t directly benefit.

It’s easy to fall prey to that mentality as a student when your institution moves to improve itself in ways you’ll never experience. But that cynicism won’t benefit anyone, either. Especially you.

Sure, future students at both Lutheran West and Gannon will have access to newer facilities that will enrich their academic and extracurricular activities. But those same students will never fully appreciate what they have in those changes, simply because they never lived through what the schools were like without them.

That point rings true to one aspect of Lutheran West that I definitely took for granted: the main building expansion. A few years before I started ninth grade, school officials expanded  the cafeteria, added new science classrooms and built the auditorium. Where the beige brick met the stark white walls signified where the expansion began, but before that, the building only had a fourth wall.

Alumni who visited West always reminded us students of that, how lucky we were. I didn’t think anything special of the add-ons; they were just always there, to my perception. Plus I was an ignorant 15-year-old.

That’s not to say you don’t have a right to bemoan the fact that you won’t play on the new indoor athletic field at the new CAP as a Gannon student; you certainly do.

But take pride, not umbrage, at your school’s efforts to improve itself and its legacy – a legacy that you’re very much a part of.



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