I recently saw a video featuring the demolition of the old Newton High School. This beautifully crafted video made me reflect on this institutional landmark and how it had shaped so many lives. As the last sitting principal of the old Newton High School building, I felt compelled to offer this “eulogy” as we prepare to close the book on our cherished flagship high school.
While history tells us that Newton High School originated in 1949, the building most of us recognize as Newton High opened its doors in the 1974-75 school year. For over two decades, this school served as the only high school in the county. Because of this, you will not find many long-time residents who do not have some affiliation with the school. The Class of 1975 was the first graduating class from the school. Throughout the years, thousands of students have walked in as freshman and moved on to graduate status in that building. At one point, over 3,000 students were educated in that building at a single time.
It may be cliché, but I must say it: If those walls could only talk. There are so many stories and events that happened in the confines of that building and its surrounding campus. Some stories were great tales of how we won championships and victories, while other gained us notoriety that we would have rather avoided. The story of the old Newton High building reflects life; it is a journey of ups and downs, growth and setbacks, peaks and valleys. Through good times and bad, the place was special. In fact, it was downright mystical.
My personal experience with old Newton High came in 2010 when I was offered the position of principal. I remember driving up to the building for the first time. I had prepared myself to simply treat old Newton High like a job and not get emotionally attached. However, I fell in love with old Newton High quickly. Soon, I was captivated with the place even though I was not a former student nor teacher there. Speaking of students and faculty, they are the ones who truly made Newton High shine. It was the people who breathed life into this building, and those same people are indicative of what makes our community so great.
Out of the ashes of old Newton High, however, the future emerges. We are currently embracing the “New” Newton High. Principal John Ellenberg, a former teacher and administrator at the old Newton High building, serves as the highly capable leader of “Newton High 2.0. In addition, where old Newton High stood, there comes a brand new, renovated, state-of-the-art Porter Performing Arts Center that will offer our community entertainment, culture, inspiration, and wonder within its walls. Although the old building will be no more, the renovated auditorium and surrounding landscape will always pay homage to our beloved Newton High. Farewell, old friend.
Dr. Craig Lockhart