On Sunday I was able to return to the school that means so much to so many of us, and I did something I haven’t done for more than two decades.
Thanks to an accommodating staff, I was part of a small group taking Rotary District 6670 Governor William Shula and his wife, Nancy, through the hallowed halls of McClain High School. A couple other Rotarians accompanied us, as well as an obliging elementary school principal, through those corridors that have stood for a century.
With this being McClain’s centennial year, some Greenfield Rotary Club members thought it would be an excellent idea to take the visiting governor through the school as he was in town for Sunday’s Greene Countrie Towne Festival activities.
Since I graduated in 1992, I have only been in the area of the auditorium for this function and that function, but I have not traversed the hallways, or the marble staircase, since I was a departing senior.
That marble staircase was off-limits until baccalaureate, and my baccalaureate has been the only time my footfalls have been on that sacred space – until last Sunday.
As I made that first step I hesitated, because staying off the stairs was so thoroughly ingrained into our young brains as students. I made the next step, and there was no admonishment from anyone, though I half expected it.
I made it to the landing where the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. McClain are looking from either side of the staircase.
While the others in our group were admiring this and that, I had a bit of tunnel vision and was itching to make my way up the rest of the staircase to break this 23-year-long drought of actually being allowed to traverse these steps, but not doing it. After an incredibly itchy moment or two, I did it without the group, and I was as giddy as a school girl with each conquered step.
“Yes!” I felt like proclaiming at the top of those previously forbidden steps, arms raised triumphantly above my head. But I didn’t give into it.
Walking through those halls into the auditorium, looking into classrooms where I used to sit day after day, year after year, inwardly groaning at how impossibly slow time traveled – before I realized that time, in fact, moves much too quickly – it was exhilarating.
And in the natatorium it took every ounce of my will not to jump in that pool, the very one that I used to hate to have to get into for gym class because there was never enough time to get ready to go to the next class (it was the ’80s and all that big hair took some time to accomplish).
However, my giving into my whims at the time may have reflected poorly on our little Rotary Club, with me being the president right now and all. So I didn’t, but it was a mighty struggle, let me tell you.
As students at Greenfield schools, we were always taught about the artwork present within McClain High School. It was part of our art learning in elementary school, and part of our entire high school experience.
During Sunday’s tour I recalled aloud about when I reached the point as a student that I realized what a special place we had. I went to other schools expecting swimming pools, colonnades, and art pieces, but what I saw were utilitarian structures constructed solely for the purpose of practical usage.
I am so honored to have been educated within McClain High School, surrounded by such a visually pleasing and culturally enriching environment.
A centennial committee for well over a year has been planning a three-day long celebration set for Sept. 4-6 this year to ring in McClain’s 100 years with plenty of memories and tradition and pride.
And if you want to know more, there’s a website you ought to look at: mcclain100.org. All the information is there.
The fact is, most of us graduates are extremely proud of our school and I was reminded of that Sunday as I, for the first time, got to show it off to two visitors who had never seen it before.
What a privilege it was.
No matter the good-natured ribbing I endure that comes from my being a McClain grad, a Greenfield girl, as I work amongst some diehard Hillsboro Indians, I am proud to be a product of McClain. And over Labor Day weekend, I look forward to joining so many other McClain grads, and others, as we all gather to honor what Edward Lee and Lulu McClain bequeathed to the generations.
I’ve noticed more and more as the centennial approaches that there is so much pride felt for McClain, as it is lovingly kept.
I’ve also noticed that it’s just not McClain grads that carry that badge of pride around, but others who have adopted our little village as home and have come to appreciate the gem that’s at its center.
While the McClains gave Greenfield a heck of a place to be educated, the school has lasted a century because of the people that love it.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.
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