Thursday, October 3, 2013

40 years and counting

Counting what? 40 years since I graduated from the hallowed halls of Wichita North High School!

I just attended my 40 year high school reunion last weekend, and emerged smiling and unscathed. It seems every year we care a little less about who/what we were in high school, and care a little more about just seeing each other. Hey, it's a miracle just to recognize some of my classmates!

I started the weekend with lunch with 3 of my best buds from high school (actually, two friends I've known since grade school). We met at NuWay, the quintessential Wichita diner that has been there longer than us. Conveniently, it's just around the corner from my house. I'm the happy one, 2nd from left, slurping on my cherry limeade, eagerly anticipating my NuWay burger (no onion, extra pickle).

Later that night we met at a local bar and did the usual reunion thing...wore nametags with our photos from our senior yearbooks! Actually, this was really useful, even if a little painful. Note to other reunion attenders...don't bring spouses to these events. We have enough trouble recognizing each other, and spouses are just confusing. 

Alas, have no idea why I wasn't smiling for my picture. Maybe that Farrah Fawcett hairstyle was stressing me out?!And I have to note that my hair has mysteriously grown blonder over the years....hmmmmmm.

Maybe I wasn't smiling because I was bemoaning my departure from this beautiful old school! Even when I was young, I appreciated the lovely architecture of North High. Sure, there were some drawbacks to attending a high school that's old enough to be on the Historic Register (really, it IS on the Historic Register!). No air-conditioning meant sliding around on your wooden desks on hot days, not to mention a swimming pool that was condemned. But a new school would never have the beautiful Proverbs scripture engraved on the wall under the tower (see it above to right of tower).

North is famous for it's terra cotta artwork adorning the exterior building, including the nearby "matching" bridge. North sits on the site of the original native American settlement in Wichita on the Arkansas river, hence all the Indian motifs.

I have fond memories of canoeing on the river in gym class. It was sure easy to tip over a canoe with 4 laughing high school girls inside who may/may not have been following instructions from the gym teacher shouting on the shore.

We were greeted on the school tour by the famous buffalo "Butch". He's been there forever, though he doesn't hang in the same spot as when I attended. North has had several multi-million dollar renovations since I left, and he had to find new grazing grounds. Before he was well affixed to the wall, he was often stolen by opposing high schools. Strange, he hadn't aged a bit!

A good natured batch of cheerleaders led groups of reunioners through the halls. My graduating class had 600+ seniors, but the school isn't as crowded now. The hallways above was news to us, as a wing has been added along the river recently - we never saw the river unless we were skipping school and going to the nearby island (not that I participated in this).

My husband came along to photo document our tour. Thanks, Alan, for snapping alot of pics along the way and allowing me to be in the pictures!

One highlight for Alan and I was visiting a painting that hangs in the "permanent collection". Our daughter, Sarah, did this reproduction of the famous American Gothic when she was a senior. Now she's busy teaching high school art in Chicago at Lane Tech

We also visited the pretty outdoor courtyard (also a recent addition) and managed to find the bricks we donated in our daughter's names.

There are about a zillion photos in the halls of past classes, and we had to have a look! Would you believe the photos from the 70s are in black and white? YIKES!

We finished the tour with an optional climb to the top-secret TOWER. Even the location of the entrance is a secret to students, although it's pretty easy to discern where it must be. Alas, Alan stayed on the ground as I trudged up floor after floor of tight winding steps to the Non-Alumni allowed! I'd show you some pics of the inside, but....wait...that's a North High secret!

The stairs were worth it, though, as I looked out through stained glass windows at
beautiful city views. It's a North tradition that Seniors visit the tower and leave names/messages on the walls. Almost a 100 years of senior scrawls is quite a mess, but what fun!

Forty years and counting! I'll close with the school motto....Once a Redskin, Always a Redskin!


  1. What a beautiful school - thank you for sharing those great photos. I recently attended my 35th reunion and our high school was too modern - all concrete and steel beams - nothing much to look at.
    Glad you had a good time!

  2. So fun! I didn't know that Sarah's picture was on permanent display!

  3. Olá Linda...
    Fiz um Blog:
    Espero que goste!
    Rê Ascenso!!!

  4. I am a 67 grad of North. Your pictures brought back many happy memories