New Library Not Like Our Old Study Hall

When I stopped by the new Central High School to pick up a copy of the Centennial book, I couldn’t believe I was in a high school library. It felt more like a coffee shop than Mrs. Wilcox’s study hall that served as my freshman homeroom.

The first thing you see when you walk into the library is a small lobby with a catalpa and sycamore sculpture by art instructor Robert C. Friedrich III. The work, “Mind, Body & Soul,” was commissioned by librarian Julia Howes Jorgensen “To Honor Her Family’s Three Generations of Central Graduates.”

She said that the “experts” would consider the small alcove wasted space, but she thinks it’s important to have a place where students can scrape off teenage angst and “decompress” before entering the library. “You remember all the drama, with the cat fights between boyfriends and girlfriends…”

Bright, airy, inviting

Julia said she was given extraordinary latitude in designing the space. She figured it was because she was “Old Cape;” a Class of 1969 graduate “along with Rush Limbaugh” (and, Koran-burner Terry Jones, I added), and had been librarian since 1985. “I live here. I know Cape and our students. I’ve taught here. I knew what we needed.”

It is clearly a non-shushing library. There’s enough space that students can collaborate on projects or talk quietly without interfering with their neighbors. The facility is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30. Julia says students are frequently waiting for her to swing the doors open in the morning.

Craig Thomas murals and art

She brought in local artist Craig Thomas to do paintings and murals. It was a great learning experience for the art students to see him set up his scaffolding and create his work. He was able to communicate to them that “it’s great work, but you really need a spouse with life insurance, too.”

The fireman’s pole in the corner of the room came from the Pacific campus.

The Bookend raises money for books

The coffee shop feeling is enhanced by The Bookend, a self-serve, honor system counter where students can buy popcorn, hot chocolate or cappuccino for 50 cents. The money goes to buy “extra” books. “The district buys the first copy of a book, but I use the proceeds from The Bookend to purchase the second, third or fourth copy of books that are ‘hot.'”

She also tries to stock bestsellers, when appropriate, so that students and faculty members have an opportunity to read a book by an author they saw on a late-night talk show .

Scrounging 101

Julia is an expert at scrounging useful items. Some of the tables in the library came from a Barnes & Noble bookstore that was moving. They were destined for the dumpster when she stepped up to take them.

Links to the past

She’s also rescued key items from the Pacific Street and Caruthers high schools. This artwork and books came from “our” Central. There are patriotic posters and a room directory taken from what is now Schultz Senior Apartments.

There’s a whole shelf of Girardot yearbooks. “That’s how you can tell I’m not a real librarian,” she said, “because I make them available to the students. It’s their school. If they want to look up what grandpa or an aunt or an uncle looked like, they shouldn’t have to beg my permission. They’re always available.”

Students can look into library

There are small windows set high in the room that allow students in the second-floor classrooms around it to look down into the library.

Her father’s uniform

One of the items on display is Julia’s dad’s uniform from World War II. When students remark about how small he was, she tells them that “when you walk the length of Italy, you get that way.”

Cape Central High through the years

If you want to see how the high school and the students have changed – and remained much the same – over the past 100 years, you can order the Cape Central High School Centennial book from a link on this page. Or, you can stop by to see Julia and her showcase library. That, alone, is worth the $50 book price.

Photos of Central’s library in the ’60s

Photo gallery of new library

Here are additional photos of the new library. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

 

Phys Ed Relics from Two Centrals

What’s a fire pole doing in the new Central High School library? (I wonder how long the Pacific Street Central High students called our high school on Caruthers the “new” Central High School?)

Julia Howes Jorgensen, Central High School librarian, and I met to talk about running an advertisement for the Cape Central High School Centennial book. We’ll go into more detail about that, probably when I get back to Florida. With luck, I’ll be wheels-up Sunday and home by Monday night.

Anyway, there was this fire pole with some bunker gear on top of it over in the corner, so I assumed that had something to do with career day or the like.

Mrs. Jorgensen, Class of 1969, pointed to a plaque to its left: “Thousands of Central Students used this Fireman’s Pole to go from classrooms to the gym floor at Central High on Pacific Street from 1917 to 1963. Donated by the Class of ’54..”

She said that Coach Lou Muegge was known to stand at the base of the pole with his “Character Builder,” taking swats at students who lolly-gagged coming down the pole, who didn’t display the proper take-no-prisoners attitude or who just happened to be the last to slide down.

Bench from girls’ locker room

Outside the library, she had scrounged desks and other memorabilia, including this wooden bench from Central’s girls’ locker room. Even if the statute of limitations hadn’t run out, I wouldn’t admit to having ever seen it before today.

Here’s what’s happened to the Central High School on Pacific. It’s been turned into some of the nicest senior apartments I’ve seen anywhere.

 

Central High School Marching Band

Wife Lila and I spotted some great clouds when we left dinner Thursday night. My car’s still at the transmission shop, so she’s driving a rental car. After shooting a dozen or so frames, I asked her to follow my cryptic directions to get to the new Central High School. When I passed it on I-55 the other night, I noticed the stadium lights were burning, so I thought maybe I could get a shot with them in the foreground and the neat sunset in the background.

When we got close enough to see the field, we noticed activity on the field – it was the Central High School Marching Band practicing for their September 2 opener. [Click on any photo to make it larger.]

You can’t beat a three-fer

I had been thinking all day that I should do something to commemorate the first day of school. Here was a chance to get the first day of school, the new football stadium and a weather shot all at one time. (I’m saving the earlier cloud shots for filler when I’m on my way back to Florida.)

Lining up to practice last routine

I got there just as the sun was setting and the band was getting set to practice their last routine. I’m pretty sure I recognized some of the kids from the Sikeston-CHS football game I shot last fall.

Band alums keep eye on practice

Former band members Billy Keys (seated) and Josh Lamar keep an eye on the green troops.

Band boosters like what they see

The woman in the front row, second from left, said she had three grandkids on the field.

Human lightning rod

When I first got to the stadium, there was an occasional flash of lightning in the clouds way off in the distance. It was far enough away that you couldn’t hear the thunder. Still, I was a bit uncomfortable as I was making my way across the metal bleachers. That’s when I spotted the human lightning rod at the very tip-top of the press box. I figured it would get him before it got me, and I felt a little better.

The lightning rod turned out to be veteran band director Neil Casey.

Casey’s in 29th year

Casey has been band director since 1983. This is his 29th and final year, he said. He followed Bill Ewing, Tony Carosello and William Shivelbine.

Megan Peters, color guard coordinator, said that her group had been practicing together since July.25. The band started August 1. They explained that the musicians received their music earlier, so they could start working on their pieces individually. Megan’s group has to be able to work together on their routines.

Marching Band Photo Gallery

Here’s a gallery of photos of band practice. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.