Sunday, April 6, 2008
enshrouded in faith and loyalty,
Stands our alma mater,
dear Ole West End High ... "
day, that verse of the school song stirs souls, including mine. The expansive
red-brick building, on Pearson Avenue, seemed like a city unto itself to
teenagers passing through its wide hallways, starting in the early 1930s.
up there," my fellow alum, Cliff Walker, reminds me. "It's where we began to
develop our social skills. Many of us kissed our first sweetheart in those
us and so many others, our dear West End will close at the end of this school
year, along with four other Birmingham schools. Another 11 will close over the
next couple years, all part of an effort to make the Birmingham school system
people are all upset about it, but I'm not sentimental about old buildings,"
Cliff says. "It's the people and memories that count."
West End graduate is doing his part in keeping people in touch and memories
alive through his one-man Web site, West End Online, www.westendhigh.com. The
photos are great and the bios delightful, especially for the graduating classes
of 1959-1963, to whom the site is geared.
learn that "Big" Jerry Thomas, class of '59, is chair of the department of
health and human performance at Iowa State University in Ames; that Kay
Forrester Barnes, class of '61, has 11 grandchildren; and that Molly McKee,
class of '63, has toured the world working in the travel industry.
created the site in 2001 as a rallying spot for a reunion he put together with
classmate Kaye Fulbright. More than 400 people attended the reunion, and before
Cliff knew what happened, he had a monster on his hands.
down the site after the reunion, thinking we didn't need it anymore," he says.
Hundreds of e-mailers and phone callers begged to differ.
the site has had more than 163,000 visitors. It features 1,228 photos and 255
classmate bios. Nearly 1,000 people are listed in its e-mail-a-friend section.
They share stories about favorite teachers, such as Mrs. Whaley, who kept
telling a student to stop leaning out her third-floor window. Before class one
day, the offender went outside and laid down on the ground below the window.
When Mrs. Whaley came in and saw him, "I thought she was having a heart attack,"
the site when he's not running his company, which buys and sells used computer
equipment. The site has spawned other reunions and the West End Girls lunch
bunch group. Cliff plans to keep it going as long as interest is strong. That
leads us back to the school song:
May she ever be.
Hail to our Alma Mater,
dear ole West End High."
© 2008 The
© 2008 al.com All Rights Reserved