Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Crumbling School Exposé! (Finally Uncensored)

According to Wiki; Carl Schurz was an accomplished journalist, newspaper editor and orator, who in 1869 became the first German-born American elected to the United States Senate.  He had many other accomplishments, but I will know him mostly for the fact that my high school was named after him.

Top: Schurz High School in 1990
Bottom: Schurz High School in 2013
In the late 80's, I wrote a feature column in my school paper. (This was back when newspapers were not just available on a tablet).

I wrote for the Schurz Times newspaper;

I imagine my Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist cover story would have looked like this.
At the time, I covered anything from entertainment news to in-depth coverage of what was happening in the school.  The results; a popular column that occasionally stirred up some trouble.

My column was titled "etc."  (Not a bad name if you ask me!)

This was the banner for my column.  (I used another name back then)
In 1990, I hit a snag with one of my stories that I was working on.  I was doing this exposé on how my school was falling apart, yet there were plans to build a new sports building on an adjacent empty lot next to the school.

I went around taking photos showing the condition of the school.  But when I was putting the story to bed, the publisher was forced to kill the story.  I was told that it was not promoting school spirit. I argued that I had the right to tell this story.  I was then reminded that the school newspaper staff was not protected by the freedom of the press, that this was a dictatorship.

My photos were taken away and the story was dead.  

Or was it?  After a few days, I went back out and shot new photos which I have since sat on those negatives...until now.

Mwahahaha, muahahaha, muahahaha!

So, after 23 years, 10 months & 4 days later, here is my uncensored coverage of:

A Crumbling School Exposé!

I imagine that if my column was still running today, it would look like this.
This was an era when the administrators had kept the school looking sharp, with freshly painted walls and new lockers, but ONLY on the first floor, where most visitors, like parents, were granted access to.

If they were able to just go up a flight of stairs, they would have seen the school under different conditions.

It was not too uncommon for classrooms to have issues, like in my business law class, we had a slight leak.  Often my classmate next to me was a bucket, or garbage pail, catching the dripping water, but to be fair, this mostly happened on rainy days.

This was my business law classroom.  It had a slight leak when it rained.

This is the same classroom, but from the point of view of my desk.

This was the ceiling in the boys bathroom.  There is another bathroom above this.
I am not sure if this exposure to paint chips contained any dangerous levels of lead, but I can assure you that this was not taken care of during my time in school.

This was a stairwell, which was only scrapped for as long as I remembered.
It appears that it took until 2012, for them to start working on removing the asbestos from the building.  Something, that I tried questioning about, back in 1990.

Pipes peeling away.  I am sure there is nothing to worry about here.

Students can not afford to be missing a letter during an emergencies. WTF is XIT?

Shattered window to a back, mostly unused door.

You can not tell in this photo, but this clock was only correct twice a day.

However, this clock was never correct.

Exposed wires was a design choice in the school.

They had wires at arms length, for a quick zap.

Holes in chalkboards, allowed teachers to teach about holes.

No need to lock your locker, as they could open from the opposite end.

Too hot, just crack open a window.
This was also the time that Schurz was preparing to go closed campus, and I was on a small committee, (which included local business owner, Mike North), where we tried to negotiate conditions.

My main concern was how the school was not prepared to increase the number of students in the lunchroom, without any air conditioners, during the hot seasonal days.

The school was going closed campus, but the only air conditioners were for the offices...

...and in the print show, which had the only computer, but some jerk was writing his column on it.

The principle agreed to add "air conditioners" in the lunchroom, which were fans.
I kid you not, the following year, instead of installing air conditioners, they brought in fans.  When I confronted the principal on this, his response was, "Fans, by definition, conditions the air."  That is when I learned to always make sure that you have any agreement clearly written out.

Even the garbage was overflowing...OK, this one is a stretch.

The school was planning to build a whole new building on an empty field.
Even though my story never got published, the plans for a new sports building died.  Even though, I would have liked to seen the building built, but not at the cost of poor conditions for the rest of the school and the students.

This is the field today.  That building was never built.
Today, the school looks like it has been cleaned up and nicely maintained, and not just only the first floor.  

Eventually, real improvements were made to the school.
One final tidbit...

Is there still a Schurz Times newspaper?  Cuz, by the look of things now, the school spirit should be alive and well.  Of course, I have become a "visitor" seeing the nicely painted walls and sharp looking lockers. 

The digital banner for the Schurz Times online version (2004)
There is always a deeper story under the surface.  Hopefully, there is someone there trying to put some light on that story.  Heck, the school was named after a guy who did that, and so much more!   

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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