CHS is marking the history of transition

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

As the school year winds down, nostalgia revs up at Central High School, which has been on Caruthers Avenue since 1953.

Next year, students in grades nine through 12 are scheduled to begin classes at the new Central High School on Silver Springs Road overlooking I-55.

As a result, many of the students occupying the current CHS building are realizing that many of the events and activities they are experiencing are occurring for the last time at the location that has been home to Central High School for so long.

It is natural for students, teachers, administrators, parents and alumni to attach special meaning to these last weeks in the high school. What they are experiencing, firsthand, is a bit of history that will no doubt provide good memories that will last a lifetime.

Of course, this isn't the first time Central students have moved. Formerly, CHS was housed in the building on Pacific Avenue that was opened in 1915 as the first building constructed for use as a public high school in Cape Girardeau.

Prior to the opening of the building on Pacific -- currently Louis J. Schultz school for seventh-graders, high school students attended classes mainly in the old Lorimier School on Independence Street. They shared that 19th century building with elementary students, with one group attending classes in the morning and the other in the afternoon. At that time, classrooms held as many as 50 students or more because of severe overcrowding in the district's school buildings.

Incidentally, the old Lorimier School was replaced a few years after the high school building on Pacific opened. The new Lorimier School building still stands and has been converted into Cape Girardeau's City Hall.

With nearly half a century of tradition, the current CHS building has given thousands of students and former students countless memories.

Recently, the last boys and girls basketball games were held in the CHS field house, which opened in 1977. From the perspective of many former basketball players, Tiger Field House was not always the most ideal place for basketball, particularly before the floor was replaced with hardwood. But any building, even with its shortcomings, that had such an important role in anyone's high school career has its true-blue fans.

The gym was more than a place for sports. It was the scene of dances and pep rallies and numerous other special events.

Even though CHS is moving to a new campus, the building on Caruthers will be filled with seventh- and eighth-graders next fall as the district shuffles students in such a way that Schultz School -- the original CHS -- will finally be decommissioned as a public school.

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