By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 11/14/2019
Occurred: 10/16/2009
Topics/Keywords: #Eastchester #NewYork Page Views: 3237
We tour Michael's old high school as part of his 40th reunion.

When most students finally graduate from high school after four long years spent trapped within its walls, they can't imagine ever wanting to go back. However, 40 years can mellow the most claustrophobic of high schoolers, and thus there was quite a turnout for the tour of Eastchester High School being given for the graduates' 40th year reunion.

The tour was organized by Michael's ex-classmate Toni Viscio and was scheduled to begin at 1 pm. We arrived early (!), and about the same time as our friends Barbara and Peter (Barbara had also been one of Michael's classmates). The first thing we saw was the school's "sign", mounted in brick with a place for news but no actual content this weekend.

Eastchester High School

The building, which was apparently constructed in 1927, has a traditional facade which subsequent years of additions and modifications have not marred.

1927 Facade from the left Facade from the right

Michael and Barbara were both remarkably happy to return to the place. Of course, both had been active in theatre so going to school, for them, had been a welcome relief from their somewhat chaotic home lives.

Barbara and Michael return to old stomping grounds.

Mark Eisner arrived shortly after we did.

Mark Eisner and Michael

While we were chatting with him, Mark mentioned that his wife had expected to come to the reunion but at the last minute, couldn't make it—and Mark had already paid for her dinner ticket, which he hated to waste. I mentioned that I had not expected to be able to attend due to limited finances, but at the last minute found myself on the plane heading for New York anyway—and I had not yet gotten my dinner ticket, which I would have to buy at the door. Mark immediately offered to give me his wife's ticket, which would make him feel better than would throwing it away. "But you'll have to tell everyone you're Francie Eisner," he joked.

"Honey," I replied in my most flaming Richard Simmons impression, "for a free ticket to dinner I'll tell people I'm anybody you want!"

Then Toni arrived, along with a number of others that we had met the night before, and we entered the hallowed halls.

The halls of Eastchester High.

As you'd expect, there were a lot of things that had changed in the past 40 years, but also a lot that hadn't. A constant hubbub of "I know where we are!" and "This is where I got my first kiss!" and "Wasn't this the chemistry lab?" underscored our tour.

One place that was much as it had been—except, we were told, for upgraded sound and lighting equipment—was the auditorium.

Eastchester High auditorium.

Michael, Barbara, and their friend Derik had spent a lot of time on that stage; so they just naturally found themselves standing on it again.

Derik, Barbara and Michael return to the stage.

Sooner than anyone wanted, the tour continued on its way. Toni, the organizer, pointed out changes and improvements; she still lives in Eastchester and has a kid attending, so she is well aware of how well the local school board cares for the facility and how it compares (very favorably) with other schools in the state.

Toni Vicsio, the tour organizer.

One of the more impressive aspects of the classrooms was that each has been totally modernized—not architecturally, but electronically. There are no longer any blackboards. Instead, the instructors write on pads which are monitored by computer and projected onto screens. At will, the instructors can augment their lessons with videos or other sources from the Internet. Students can get class notes online, and turn in homework assignments the same way.

Modern electronics adorn the classooms.

Our friend, Peter, is a techno-geek and this was the most interesting part of the tour for him. Although he did spend time simply enjoying how much fun his wife, Barbara, was having.

Barbara and Peter. The floor of the old gym remains. The boys' locker room.

In an old part of the school we found what used to be the gymnasium. What was interesting to me was that history had not been obliterated. Although the classrooms themselves looked perfectly normal, the hall between them exposed the original floor. Even the basketball backboard remained intact, and had been built around!

There is a new gym, of course; we saw the locker rooms (men touring the boys' lockers while the women toured the girls', of course, even though no students were present).

The new gymnasium.

A new, grander, entryway has replaced the old one. It's amazing to me how they have managed to retain the traditional look while complementing it with a more modern sensibility.

The new foyer to the school.

We then went outside to learn that the old football field, which had been "sunken" into a natural stadium, had been filled in for no adequately explored reason.

The new football field is about 20 feet above the old.

The tour ended, of course, with a "class photo" taken on the same steps as so many such photos had, 40 years ago.

The Easterchester High School Class of '69 (part of it, anyway).