New school, old school

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The old Bainbridge High School on College Street has run the gamut in the Harrell family.

On Thursday, Brooke Harrell, 17, will graduate from Bainbridge High School, being the third child of Winfred and Rhonda Harrell to say they are graduates of Bainbridge High School.

Brooke will also be saying goodbye to the old school, unlike her father, who was in one of the first classes to attend the brand-new high school building back in the late 1960s. The 57-year-old Winfred graduated in 1969, the third class to have graduated from the then-new high school.

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Forty-three years later, Brooke is proud to say her class—the Class of 2009—will be the last.

“It kind of feels like my class rules the school,” Brooke recently said. “It’s pretty neat that we’re the last class to be there.”

Leaving behind the old high school building are the crowded hallways and courtyard.

But on the other side, Thursday night’s scheduled graduation ceremony will be special to the estimated 354 graduates. This year’s class marks the last time that Memorial Coliseum and Bearcat Field were the home of the Bearcats and Lady Cats.

So, there will be a lot of goodbyes come Thursday.

Brooke kind of chuckled when her father talked about the excitement of learning the ins and outs of a the-then, brand-new school. She knows the seniors in the Class of 2010 will be learning the ins and outs of the new high school just like the freshmen.

Winfred said the new high school was built to house all the students in the county following the consolidation all the high schools in the county, so all the students who attended the College Street school were in the same boat—attending a brand-new high school.

“We were all in the new school, new environment. We were all a bit nervous,” Winfred said. “It was an exciting time.”

Back then, Winfred said the high school was modern and had all the bells and whistles for gaining a good education. The farmer particularly remembers the school having a then-state-of-the-art shop class facility.

After he graduated, Winfred said he has not stepped front in it since then.

Brooke said each class had added some since of a legacy, such as the senior parade on the first day of class.

Brooke plans to attend Bainbridge College in the summer then eventually transfer to Tallahassee Community College to become certified in dental hygiene.

When asked what the walls of the old Bainbridge High School would say it they could, she said, “I think the walls would let out big sighs of relief.”