By Rick Palsgrove
The gym at Groveport Madison High School has hosted countless assemblies and events over its more than 50 year history, and recently it welcomed a large gathering of alumni who came to say goodbye to their old school.
The high school on South Hamilton Road will be demolished this summer to make way for the new high school that will open this fall.
On May 19, a closing ceremony and open house was held at the school to allow alumni to walk the halls one last time.
At the ceremony, the flag that flew in front of the school was ceremonially retired by representatives of Motts Military Museum. A new flag that will fly in front of the new high school was presented to high school principal Dr. Jaivir Singh.
Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp, a 1975 Groveport Madison graduate, gave a speech on the history of the school district and high school and then he added, “I bleed red and black (the school colors). Closing this old high school is a bittersweet moment for me. But, like Cruiser, this building may gone, but it will never be forgotten.”
Then, to loud cheers from the alumni crowd that filled the gym, Westcamp said, “Once a Cruiser, always a Cruiser!”
The combined current high school and alumni band then broke into the school’s fight song which the gathered alumni sang with gusto.
People filtered out of the gym to wander through the school and share their memories. Walking through the building I overheard people say things like: “This is where I had English class.” “This was the detention room.” “Oh, the library!” “This is where the seniors sat in the cafeteria at lunch.” “I’ll miss this auditorium.” “I love this old gym.”
“I think this is where my locker was.”
Former Groveport Madison High School principal, 90-year-old Charles Bishop, came to sit in his old office one last time. Bishop was principal when the building first opened as a high school in 1970-71 and served as principal until the 1974-75 school year when he was promoted to assistant superintendent.
“I remember when this building opened,” said Bishop, who wore the black tie emblazoned in red with the letters “GMHS” that he wore in those days. “This office was much smaller when I was here back then. They’ve made it bigger. I enjoyed my time in this building along with the people who were here. I hope that those in the new building will also have enjoyable experiences.”
Alumni were able to leave their mark on the old building as red and black markers were handed out so people could write their names and graduating class year on the cafeteria walls before the wrecking comes to knock the building down.
They filled the walls with names, comments, and artwork. Shawn Cleary, class of 1978 wrote on the wall, “So many friends, so many great times.” Sandra Storts-Maxson, class of 1978 wrote, “Memories light the corners of my mind.”Cortney George, class of 2004, drew a picture of Cruiser. The Clements family wrote, “Once a Cruiser, always a Cruiser” and then listed the names and graduating years for family members Jerry 1972, Kim 1975, Rachel 2000, Sarah 2003, Taze 2024, and Cecily 2032.
Someone from the class of 1999 summed up the feelings of all who were there by writing, “Gonna miss you.”