A discussion of tradition, memory, and nostalgia…
By: Hillori L. Schenker ∼MRC Board Member∼
The familiar strains of the march begin with woodwinds carrying the melody, while the baseline keeps tempo. As Pomp and Circumstance reaches its crescendo, the graduates appear. Proceeding solemnly into their assigned seats, their backs straight, each candidate’s tassel bobs in time to the song. The young men are clad in maroon academic regalia and the ladies in white, representing the colors of Montrose Area the consolidated school district.
The Montrose Area Class of 2017 celebrated their commencement on June 17. The ceremonies mark an ending for the students, but also initiate them into the ranks of proud Montrose alumni from years past. The following is a discussion of tradition, memory, and nostalgia for all graduates of Montrose. Representing memories of the recent class are 2017 graduates, Cammi Clark and Chris Lewis. Joining the new alumni are some from past years including Ellen Mulligan (’80) and David Calby (’67).
The history of education in Montrose dates back to the earliest settlement of the town. However, the consolidated high school between Montrose Borough and Bridgewater Township began in 1947 at the Lake Avenue School (most of the building was remodeled in 1988 for use by the county). The district began new construction in the present high school location in 1959, after students from Franklin Township, Forest Lake, Silver Lake, and Jessup Township joined the consolidated high school. The first class to graduate from the area’s current high school building was the Class of 1961. The first class to graduate as Montrose Area students was the Class of 1967, which includes all of the boroughs and townships in the district, today.1
David recalled the early days in the high school, “Seventh and eighth graders used to have to fend for themselves among the big kids. There was no separation or protection! We were all mixed-in together.”
Mixed-in helped with school spirit. David was a freshman when the basketball team competed at the state championship. “We all took buses down to the Scranton.”
Competing for the state title is a once-in-a-life-time event. However, some American images of high school are similar from town to town. Cammi’s favorite long-standing tradition included gathering at Ambrose Mullen’s Stadium field. “Montrose students of all kinds, all ages, teachers, families and friends come together Friday night under the lights to watch our football team.”
Sports played into Ellen’s memories of high school, as well. “Powderpuff football sticks out in my mind. We all took it so seriously. The male athletes coached the female athletes—they really taught us a thing or two. I even still have a “playbook,” somewhere. It was juniors versus seniors with the entire school in attendance. My senior year, we won, of course!
Chris had difficulty choosing the fondest memory in the halls of Montrose. “I’ve spent more time at school than at my house, practically,” he laughed.
“My favorite part of high school was probably sharing all my memories with family, who are/were all deeply involved at MAHS.”
Ellen thoughtfully added, “I have to say, I am proud to be a Montrose Area graduate. The teachers and staff are ultimately the longest-standing tradition, in my book. They have influenced and contributed to every aspect of our community in extraordinary ways over the years. They certainly guided, inspired and enriched my life.”
When asked about the defining moment of graduation, Chris immediately mentioned the tossing of the flat-topped mortar board caps. Nodding, Cammi summed up the discussion with her image of graduation as the instant, “when the students toss their caps into the air. [That moment is] graduation and also liberation. We tossed away the pressure of the last thirteen years and all we worked through to achieve that moment.”
She continued, “Looking back, I’ve always loved my class, the Class of 2017. We are a very close class, and I’m proud to come from Montrose with ‘the cream of the crop.’”
We are proud of you and the Class of 2017, too! Welcome to the ranks of Montrose alumni.