Hadley: The Value of Coming HomeSep 26, 2021 10:41AM ● By Suzanne Hadley
Earlier in the day a couple dozen of us enjoyed a guided tour of the high school. We were happy to learn most of the school’s layout remained as we remembered it. Parking lot and semi-circular drop off—check. Principal’s office and attendance desk—check. Senior bench—check. Gymnasium—check. History, science, and English hallways—check, check, and check.
Nonetheless, the school has lovingly been renovated and modernized. A huge new library complete with 3D printers and laser cutters. A second lunch room (lunch is indoors in Wisconsin). Beautiful new sports fields. An extensive new workout facility for PE and team sports. An expanded theater, and greatly enlarged music rooms for band, jazz band, orchestra, and choir. A beautifully refurbished gym. My classmates and I were impressed.
Recycling bins are sprinkled throughout. Red-and-white Bucky Badgers decorate classroom doors and the walls of the gym. There’s a real—and fierce-looking--stuffed badger on display in the lobby. I bought Badger apparel in a school store stocked and managed by students.
Most interesting was our tour of the renovated and expanded classrooms for technical education. The formerly named “home economics” classroom was impressive. Gone were the kitchen-size ovens and family-size cookie sheets. In were restaurant-sized ranges, ovens, and refrigerators. Shop class was about what I remembered (not that I darkened the door). But the ceramics and art studio has enjoyed a significant upgrade since 1981 with more pottery wheels and a bigger kiln.
The huge agricultural-science classroom was my favorite. Banners for FFA (Future Farmers of America), and 4H decorated the walls. In one corner of the huge classroom students raise small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits. A farm-animal area was fascinating with its “calf simulator” and a wall poster depicting American Purebred breeds of swine. Probably most surprising was a new, semi-outdoor area for aquaculture. In large fresh-water vats, Badger students raise tilapia which they sell to the community. Same with two greenhouses where they grow and sell fresh vegetables and flowers.
Our reunion organizers outdid themselves. Class photos and yearbook pics were generously displayed throughout the venue. They brought in scrapbooks, trophies, memorabilia, and even some old spirit wear. We munched on piles of Italian beef sandwiches, Swedish meatballs, macaroni salad, penne, and tossed green salad. For dessert there was a white-frosted sheet cake with “BHS Class of 1981” piped on with red icing. We mourned the loss of 17 classmates who have died, one fairly recently; their yearbook pictures were tastefully displayed on a table of honor.
As the hours passed and the beers flowed, the years melted away. We hugged, we reminisced, and we read name tags and yearbook mottos with reading glasses. We talked and laughed—and laughed some more. We were 18 years old once again: We were young and full of energy. We had thick hair, thin tummies, strong legs, original knees, and laser-sharp eyesight. Dreams for our future once again filled our heads.