(This story is part of a nationwide Patch series probing the economy's effect on local schools. With ground set to be broken Wednesday on the new Tewksbury High School, we felt it was appropriate to get a student perspective on a project that will be the largest investment in the history of the school district.)
By Victoria Aronson
As students walk through the crumbling hallways of Tewksbury Memorial High School, they may stop and view a slide show of the designs for the new school, which in a cruel twist of fate, most upperclassmen will never have the opportunity to attend.
Yet, a prevalent majority of the juniors and seniors support the new construction and feel as if a personal victory was finally scored despite the fact that such an investment will bear no personal benefits upon their class. United in a common effort, students held signs urging voters to support the construction on that decisive day, knowing the effort would benefit younger siblings and the town as a whole.
Graduating seniors grasped the opportunity to exercise their newfound voting rights, using their political power to enhance their hometown before departing to explore the world of college and beyond. Yet, such determination was not based on hatred of the building in which students spent their youth, but on hope for the future classes who would follow them.
As the final class to grace the halls of a building that has stood and educated the youth of Tewksbury for decades, we students cannot help but feel part of an impending legacy. Conjuring memories of the run down bathrooms, dysfunctional sinks, overcrowded halls, and dripping ceilings strangely conveys a strong sense of nostalgia and belonging.
Buckets are strategically placed to capture water falling through the cracks in the cafeteria ceiling whenever it begins to rain, and students are not surprised when water running from the lab sinks suddenly turns a suspicious, murky brown shade. In a sense, all these faults serve as a source of humor and identity among the students and staff, who rather than dwell on their physical environment, bond over the flawed building while pursuing an education.
For some students, roaming through the hallways allows them to imagine their own parents, aunts, and uncles doing the same years ago. Sitting in the same classroom, perhaps even with the same teacher, as one's relatives creates a common experience enabling families to relate to one another.
Of course, there is also the tale of the dead cheerleader haunting D-hall, told to the startled faces of freshmen who eventually will pass on the rumor as well. In essence, such experiences and tales lend themselves to the culture of the youth of Tewksbury, and once the old building is finally torn down, students will be left with only memories of such years.
Although Tewksbury Memorial High School may not be a modern, updated facility, it is filled to the brim with a sense of history and culture that accumulated over the years. Students may exclaim over the notoriously tarnished physical conditions of the building, yet countless will miss the sense of nostalgia evoked by the walls of their youth.
With memories in tow, however, even students who will not personally experience the new construction embrace the prospect for the future generations of Tewksbury, who shall create a sense of identity entirely their own.
Victoria Aronson is a senior at Tewksbury Memorial High School.