Alumni get one more look at old school
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:52

Members of the Dundalk High Alumni Association Board of Directors attended the open house on Sunday and signed up new members (standing, from left): Dennis McCartney (Class of 1965), Kenny Kapsambelis (1971), Janice Evans (1961), Dennis Gwaltney (1964), (sitting, from left) Alice Fogle (1959) and Sara German (1960).  photo by Bill Gates

by Bill Gates

Consider the plight of the current Dundalk High School: aging, breaking down, it’s flashier state-of-the-art replacement sitting right beside it, and a date with a wrecking ball in June.
    On Sunday, however, “the old girl” reminded everyone that she is still loved.
    Dundalk High hosted an open house for all of its alumni on Sunday, giving graduates one last chance to tour their alma mater before it is demolished this summer.
    Over 400 former students accepted the invitation.
    “It’s sad to see the old building coming down,” said Denise Leisey Duffy of the Class of 1980. “When you’re in high school, you don’t realize all the fun you’re having. Then you get out in the ‘real’ world, and you realize how good you had it back in high school.”
    Members of the Dundalk High Navy JROTC unit led tours for those alumni who may have forgotten their way around the building.
    The school also accepted orders for bricks from the building after it is demolished.
    “This brings back memories, walking through here,” said Quintin Forsythe (Class of 1989). “I wanted to do it one last time.”
    Cera Spallone did not graduate from Dundalk High. Her husband, Jon Spallone (Class of 1994) was unable to attend the open house due to recovering from an illness.
    “My school in California was demolished and I never had the opportunity to walk through it one last time,” she said. “A high school is not just brick and mortar; a lot of souls passed through this school, a lot of futures walked through these doors.
    “You touch the walls, you can feel all the memories. Coming back allows you to reconnect, shows that you haven’t lost your core, who you are.”
    But the school alumni, while saying goodbye to their old alma mater, understood that there comes a time to move on. In this case, to a new building bearing the old name.
    “I think it’s great we’re getting a new school, said Scott Holupka (Class of 1976). “The fact that it’s a gazillion degrees in here today, shows what conditions must be like for students and teachers, and indicates the building is past its prime.”
    Dundalk High may be past its prime, but in some ways it was ahead of other schools.
    “I’m going to miss the swimming pool on the third floor,” said Victor Duarte (Class of 1980).
    [For decades, a standard prank pulled by upperclassmen has been to tell incoming students about the nonexistent pool on the nonexistent third floor.]
    While a new building is “certainly needed,” said Karl Diehn (Class of 1967),  “look at all the good this school has done over the years. It has made great contributions to society.
    “So many well-to-do, successful people have come from here.”
    It is particularly rough for Roy Plummer (Class of 1972). As the head of facilities for Dundalk High, he possibly knows the old building more than anyone else.
    “Nobody knows every switch and knob, every nook and cranny in this building like I do,” Plummer said. “It just tears me up. I can’t come to grips with the fact they’re tearing the building down. It’s like watching your parents’ house get torn down.”
    Plummer will continue in his job when the new building opens in the fall.
    “I’ll work as long as [principal Tom Shouldice] let’s me,” he said. “But I’m coming to the end of my work career, and they’re tearing my building down. Everything is being dismissed at once.”