Hometown Views: Schools

Hi all! Last week Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I started a new blog feature called Hometown Views, where we share different building, traditions, memories all from our hometowns. We started this because during our online friendship we have enjoyed comparing the areas we live – rural to suburban outside Detroit. Last week we shared our libraries – this week, we are sharing our schools!

First up is my old elementary school, Washington Elementary, built in 1930. All the schools in our city are named for different presidents. Washington is one of four elementary schools in our town; when my parents went to school in this very same city as little elementary schoolers, there were six! And those are just the public schools. My best friend went to Catholic school, just two blocks down from Washington. At one time in addition to the six public elementary schools, there were seven Catholic schools as well. Currently Wyandotte Schools matriculates around 4600 students through its halls.

The elementary schools are Washington, Garfield, Monroe and Jefferson currently. When I was kid, we also had McKinley and Taft. Washington was where I attended – and met a little boy named Billy. We shared a double desk in third grade. I was super quiet; he was super chatty. I believe I was put next to him to get him to stop talking as much but he didn’t need me to reply to talk. He would also eat part of my lunch in exchange for drawings he would make me. Little did I know that one day I would marry him and we would have Wyatt! I also got to have my favorite teacher twice – Miss Caruso. She taught first grade, then later when I was in fifth grade, she was the fifth grade teacher. I still chat with her on Facebook every so often.

I obviously can’t show you the inside – but let me tell you, it is beautiful. It has Pewabic tile murals, gorgeous marble floors, and like all the other elementaries, a greenhouse. Although it was never used, which I thought was odd. It is pretty big! I remember being a little second grader who could read above my grade level, and so I was sent to one of the third grade classes upstairs for reading. I had to walk the big lonely halls and go up the stairs. I remember being so nervous!

Wilson was my middle school. At the time I went, there was only one middle school. When my parents went to school, there were three. That crazy baby boom right? My mom went to Wilson as well, while my dad went to one that is no longer open.

Wilson was built in 1956 – and it looks so totally mid-century modern, doesn’t it? A few fun facts: My mom and grandparents and aunt and uncle went here for their polio shots when that happened. And it is also a bomb shelter. I also voted here for years until they switched our polling location. It does have a nice size track that in the evenings and during the summer you can see people from the community using for running or walking.

I remember not enjoying middle school – it’s like the worst right? However, I did learn while at Wilson that I loved swimming, and joined the swim team, something that I continued to participate in all the way until I graduated. In middle school I swam back stroke and breast stroke, while in high school I swam butterfly and freestyle. My grandpa was actually on the swim team in school too – he swam back and freestyle. He was so good at it too – I have clippings of articles from the paper all about him and his swimming prowess. I love that we shared that. I also learned that I was terrible at home ec. My grandma actually sewed my final project for me, a dragon stuffed animal. But shhh, don’t tell anyone!

Finally dear old Wyandotte high, Theodore Roosevelt High School. It is huge. I had a tough time trying to get a photo of the entire building, so I found one taken by Dwight Burdette that was posted on Wikipedia. The photo of the front of the building I found online but couldn’t find the photographer’s name.

It extends to the annex building in back. There is a tiny little hall from the second floor over to the annex, which during my time housed the science classes and music rooms. Behind the annex is a giant greenhouse for the botany class, something I was not interested in during high school but wish now that I had been. It was originally built in 1923, but has been added onto three more times, the last time in 2004. The main staircase is magnificent. Seriously, I loved using it, it felt so grand. My mom also remembers my dad being escorted down the stairs by an angry teacher one time, for probably being a bit of a smart butt in class. The library is two stories, the gymnasium is two stories with an indoor track, there is a pool, an auditoritum, and coolest thing of all…. a planetarium. Bless Mrs. Bens for taking us there, it was really neat. She always started the presentations by playing The Beatles Here Comes the Sun, Wyatt’s current favorite. We would all snicker because we were super cool but now I appreciate what she was doing so much more. I am not sure if the planetarium is still functional or not. There is a football field, a weight room, an auto shop, and all the other shop classes in the vocational wing. I was the last student to take four years of Latin, by the way. I was the only student in my Latin 4 class. My teacher, Miss Berens was pretty amazing. I also reconnected with that kid Billy I shared a double desk with back in third grade when I was here. We would sit in the hall, at the top of the ramp leading to the band hall, and chat before school started. Billy was such a rebel in school – he had a mohawk and would ride his skateboard down through the halls. On Halloween he used to dress like a skeleton and do it. I was not. I was a bookish girl who never talked and would eat lunch in the library. But as they say, opposites attract!

Gwen Frostic, a Michigan artist and journalist attended high school at Roosevelt. She was a Rosie on the lines during the war, and set up an art studio in northern Michigan, near Beulah. I am actually planning on stopping in on our trip! I have always loved her work, and I think the personal hometown connection clinches it for me. I have also read that she may have had a mild form of cerebral palsy but I am not 100% on that.

I couldn’t take many pictures today. The school was in use by various people and I felt sort of weird trying to get photos but, I found these fantastic photos by a man named Brendan Gutenshwager, so many of the interior and with a 360 view as well, if you are interested. I did grab this one of the bear mascot. My freshman year the swim team had a different mascot, the Turtles, and I loved that. After that they made us go by Bears and I hated it. Turtles just made more sense. My swim coach Mr. Roddin was pretty awesome, even if he did make us practice at 7 am on Saturday mornings.

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And there you have it – a small tour of my public school days. So many memories! One of the schools is for sale, it is so gorgeous, similar to Washington. I would love to buy it and make it my house, wall off the playground and use it to homestead. Wouldn’t that be cool? Although it looks like someone did buy it to turn into senior apartments.

Be sure to check out Lisa’s post today as well! I know that I am looking forward to seeing what she has posted, she is a brilliant writer and photographer!

And we had some people ask if we were going to make this a link up eventually. We talked about it and have decided that we would love that! We are still figuring out the timeline so the date is TBD. Our topic for that week is hometown churches. We would love it if you would join us!

7 thoughts on “Hometown Views: Schools

  1. Pingback: Hometown Views: Schools | Boondock Ramblings

  2. I love these hometown stories! The buildings are awesome…and I enjoyed the story of meeting “little Billy.” LOL

    I also hated middle school, but back in my day, it consisted of 7th and 8th grades and was called junior high.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. They don’t make schools like that anymore, do they? I see lovely schools in Lansing being demolished because they are old rather than upgrading them to be more efficient or better wired for tech. It kind of makes me crazy. Our high school had inlaid individual tiles and mosaics in the floor and you just don’t see that anymore. The new buildings may be bigger but they are so cold, sterile and uniform. One of the things Rick said when they redid East Lansing High School was “if the original could turn out Google’s Larry Page, why do they need to make something new and splashy”and he’s right — it’s the education and teachers that should matter most. OK — off the soapbox!

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  4. I have had awful photos the last two posts, sadly, but I pulled out a bunch of fun ones for the churches and will take some more before our August one. Your high school looks like my college buildings. I should have mentioned that all of my school buildings are one story. I only know of three in our two county area that have more than one story for the high schools. Normally the schools around here are one story, probably because they are easier to maintain for heating costs, etc.

    Loved this tour. I felt totally out of my element just reading about it all. Greenhouses in the school? Wha-?

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  5. What a cool theme for a post. A friend of mine Lauren at Shooting Star Mag does a hometown tourist post. You might check her out and you gals could link up these posts and make some new friends.

    It is crazy that your mom went to the same school you did. And that your high school had so many great features. We were lucky to have a gym. And the seniors always sold tickets to the freshman for the swimming pool on the roof that didn’t exist.

    My brother-in-law (PC’s brother) and SIL met in third grade. Love that you guys did, too!!

    Liked by 1 person

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