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December 4, 2022

Funny Papers Again Column | Old School Is Now a New School

I was cruising around Greenfield the other day and noticed the construction at the old Greenfield Grammar School, which is what back many years ago we called the present-day Mary Chapa Academy. I noticed that the buildings being renovated were a couple of the same classrooms I attended back in 1957 through 1966, and I thought it a good thing but at the same time lamented that such effort wasn’t taken back in 1965 when the main building of the school was demolished to make way for new buildings. I was to see this type of demolition then construction twice more, at King City Joint Union High School and later at Hartnell Junior College.

The reasons that the main quadrangle and auditorium of Greenfield were knocked down are lost to us now, but I suppose it was a combination of earthquake fears and a desire, so common in the ’50s and ’60s, to do away with the old and bring in the new. After that part of the campus was razed, a new office, multi-purpose room and science wing were added.

If you are one of the readers who attended the school prior to new construction, you will remember that the auditorium was quite a building; an actual theater that even had a raked floor and backstage counterbalance rail and dressing rooms. The ticket booth, yes it had one, was at the east end of a quadrangle with classrooms on the north and south and offices to the west. Inside was a nicely manicured flower area; the whole thing was roofless so was quite sunny while being wind protected.

I vividly remember a morning flag-raising ceremony was scheduled to signal the end of construction and opening of all the new buildings, and as student body president I was to lead the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag after some remarks; I don’t recall what I said, but I remember the vice principal at the time, a fellow with the easy-to-ridicule name of Huckleberry, told me it was my choice of words as the new school was for the students and generations to come. I remember that because it was one of the first times I was in front of an audience and could say what I wanted.

After that first morning, we gathered for the salute one day a week, but if that day was Monday or Friday, I don’t recall (c’mon, I can’t remember every little detail). At that time, though, all of the voting student body, grades 6, 7 and 8, could gather under the pole and surrounding area; surely not nearly possible these days.

I am glad the district has chosen to upgrade the older building under renovation today. It is somehow gratifying to know students are still learning in the rooms where myself and hundreds of others still extant (that means we are still breathing) did our early learning. Of course these new changes are not the only ones to take place in recent years at my old alma mater.

Where my buddies and I played flag football and basketball is now an administration building and parking lot, the old library/cafeteria that had been converted to a wood shop, then computer room, and that who-knows-what is now gone and a new structure in its place. Also, I noticed in the paper the other day that the district was seeking bids on work to be done on the multi-purpose room, the building which became cafeteria, student body meeting hall and theater (of sorts, we did do shows there).

What all else is planned for the old school I don’t know; I sought some information from the district office but apparently the folks in there were too busy to respond, so I’ll just have to see what develops over the next weeks. One thing I do hope for: I hope when finished the district holds a public open house. I’d like to visit the old place and remember some good days gone by.

***

As a member of the local arts scene, I am always up for a performance on the local Robert Stanton Theater stage, and a while back the community was treated to three short musical skits performed by members of Sol Treasures’ Summer Intensive Arts Program. This was a four-week seminar on acting, singing, lights, sound and choreography for a small group of young performers, and one dedicated adult.

As always, I came away gratified that the youth of our community have opportunity to engage in such endeavors; on this night, it was doubly nice as two of the performers I know as dancers, and while they will continue to dance they are now on the way to becoming what in the acting world are known as “triple threats”; that is acting, singing and dancing.

Good for you, Ms. Cullen and Ms. Todd, and the other young people who are involved in the entertainment arena; providence knows we all need some entertainment as respite from the daily mundanities of life. Keep an eye out for word of Sol T’s next gig, the youth musical “Frozen,” which auditions are upcoming in August.

In other arts news, there will soon be an anticipated gathering at the Monterey County Dance Theatre studio, where the community will learn which dancers will fill which roles in the 62nd anniversary of MCDT’s celebrated “The Nutcracker Ballet,” when the big question will be “Who will dance the role of Clara?” Look to MCDT’s Facebook page and elsewhere for when this event will take place.

I also am aware that KCHS drama department has a rehearsal schedule for a show to be staged when classes resume, but I know nothing of what production is planned. But if young people are engaged in such a project, then let us support them in those efforts. Usually KCHS shows are not highly advertised, so you have to look close for show dates.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist

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