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HHS senior: Why 1926 building matters to me

Taylor Wright is a senior at Hendersonville High School. Taylor Wright is a senior at Hendersonville High School.

I am student of the Class of 2016 and I am also a fourth generation Bearcat.

Over two-dozen of my family members have graduated from Hendersonville High School, including my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, older brother, cousins and other extended family members. Among these graduates were state championship-winning athletes, cheerleaders, homecoming queens and class officers. There has been at least one person in my family attending HHS in every decade since the late 1920s. I have grown up going to football games at Dietz Field on Friday nights, going to watch senior plays, and seeing the various Bearcat memorabilia around my house and the town. HHS has always been in my life, even before I started attending high school there, and it will remain in my life far past my graduation this coming June. I have taken the recent discussions and disputes over the possible renovations and additions to the school to heart.

I am strongly in favor of keeping the main building for educational purposes. Every day I walk in the same halls as my great-grandfather, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and siblings did years before me. This building is built upon the legacies of tradition, integrity and athletic and academic success that HHS has created. The auditorium is truly the heart and soul of this school. It can hold the student body and all of the faculty members during assemblies and pep rallies. We are the only school in Henderson County that has an auditorium capable of doing that. Those with no connection to Hendersonville High School may not understand what the school is about. They may drive by the football field on a Friday night and see the Bearcat flags waving in the air, or they may hear about the annual Move Up ceremony, but if they don’t experience any of these events as an HHS student, those events are just another high school scene. In the eyes of an HHS student, they are influential and full of memories. Our traditions set us apart and leave others inspired.
Option 2 preserves the current main building as an educational building and saves the auditorium. This plan includes renovating the current school, building a new gym, cafeteria and classrooms before tearing down our existing old and new gyms, meaning that HHS would have a gym throughout the construction process. Option 3 would provide the school a new auditorium in an entirely new school, but one that could not hold even half of the student body at one time. Our senior plays, National Honor Society inductions, Move Up ceremonies, pep rallies and other celebrations would lose their extraordinary significance and power. Having the entire student body together to see Wall of Fame inductions, hear guest speakers and enjoy merriments inspires students to rise up and become groundbreakers in the school and community. Option 3 also involves tearing down the gyms before construction of a new gym is complete. It leaves the current school empty, replaced by an entirely new school right on Asheville Highway, an extremely busy five-lane road. This plan shows ample amounts of potential danger for students and teachers.
This situation reminds me of the controversy over the old courthouse a couple of years ago. Many commissioners did not want to spend the money needed to renovate the courthouse and suggested tearing it down and building a new one. Many people argued that it would have been okay to tear down the old courthouse, that it was an unneeded piece of the past, while others argued that it displayed the beauty of the town and it was an iconic landmark in the community. The county commissioners decided to renovate the building and build a new courthouse in town. Essentially, this is the same situation as the Hendersonville High School renovation plans. If the main building is kept as part of the school campus, it will serve as a permanent reminder of the backgrounds and precedents of greatness set generations ago. Yes, it would cost more money to keep the building a part of campus, but it would be money well spent. HHS is a quintessential component of Hendersonville. Not keeping the main building a part of campus would be like removing a piece of history forever.
The main building of Hendersonville High School not only holds my memories, but holds those of thousands of alumni. Alumni from around the world still remember their Move Up ceremony, singing the Alma Mater, being inspired by a favorite teacher. The classrooms that fill that building have challenged me, changed me, and given me countless opportunities to give back to the school that has given so much to me. Hendersonville High School has offered me a home over the past four years, one that someday I'll be able to bring my children to. It would break my heart to see this building abandoned. It may need renovations, but the standards of excellence and tradition flowing through the halls of the building are untouchable. We can’t ignore the past; we have to use the past as a guide for the future.

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Taylor Wright, the daughter of HHS graduates Beth and John Wright, is an intern for the Hendersonville Lightning.