Gordan Gray, class of 1992, looks through the signatures of those who were at the first night of the open house. Gray attended with his wife, Kelly, also class of 1992. Three generations of Grays went to Largo High School, including their son and daughter, graduating this year.
Photo by JULIANA A. TORRES
A former student walks under the archway of Largo High School during the second day of the final homecoming May 13.
LARGO – For one last time, Largo High School alumni walked through the old halls and under brick archways where they attended classes, played sports and participated in a plethora of activities during the 57-year history of the facility.
The school hosted an open house May 12-13, a final homecoming before the school is demolished to make way for new, state-of-the-art buildings. Demolition will begin this summer after school ends. Students will take classes from portables during the two projected years it takes to build the new high school.
The bricks that make up much of the architecture of the school – along with locker doors, bleacher seats or pieces of the gym floor – are being sold as fundraiser for the LHS Athletic Boosters. They will help pay for items the capital fund won’t cover, like a new concession stand and bathrooms on the visitors’ side of the field. As of the start of the open house May 13, the Boosters had sold more than 1,000 bricks, said booster president Dean Newton.
“I’m really amazed at the people that showed up,” Newton said, who, while not a alumnus, had seven children attend the high school. “It’s neat to see the classes congregate.”
He estimated that about 800 attended the first night of the open house and said about 1,000 were expected on the final night.
“It already looks like there’s more here tonight than there was last night,” he said.
Many of the alumni claimed memorabilia they had contributed to the school: a quilt created as a school project that hung in the library, old yearbooks and trophies.
In the band room, Robin Benoit, wife of band director Christopher Benoit, helped former drum majors collect trophies won while they were at the helm of the marching band. More than 500 trophies had been labeled with names in hopes of paring down their quantity, she said. And the trophies made up just a portion of the items that had to be moved out by June 6.
Principal Brad Finkbiner said he noticed that open house was a chance for alumni to see those in classes that preceded or followed their own, those they wouldn’t catch up with at their own reunions.
“They are seeing folks that they were in school with – maybe not the same class – and just really are reminiscing,” he said.
He also was encouraged to see the current students interact with the alumni. Students who participated the first night had “so much fun” talking with the alumni that they had decided to come back.
“It’s that community thread that runs through this place, and it’s really cool,” he said.