Homecoming in high school is a big event and this year was no different. The Homecoming game was on September 21st against North East and the queen, typically a senior girl, was Riley Glover. (Riley’s photo is courtesy of the 2017 yearbook.)
For several years now Fairview also has been electing a Homecoming King and this year’s king was Cullen Hanlon. Homecoming is a great tradition that can be expected to continue on and on and on.
Not so 50 years ago.
The idea of merging small schools in Erie County to provide a better education had begun after World War II with the Department of Public Instruction. (DPI). In 1953 the Erie County Board of Education submitted a plan for several mergers. Some had already taken place: Edinboro and McKean became General McLane; the Springfields and Albion became Northwestern; and Wesleyville and Lawrence Park became the Iroquois School District.
Something was in store for Fairview and Girard too, although the boards from both schools tried to ignore it and conduct business as usual. Neither school wanted the merger.
Girard added on to the Rice Avenue High School in 1955. Fairview built the Manchester Elementary school on Route 5 in 1958 then built the junior-senior high school on Avonia Road in 1961. Girard built the Elk Valley Elementary in 1964. Fairview added a new wing to the Manchester School in 1967. But both schools were running out of room in their high school buildings. They agreed to not add onto their existing high school buildings, then when the time came, would build a joint high school.
But they didn’t like it.
Then the DPI decided that new high schools should be built for even more students – 4,000, to be exact. Together Fairview and Girard would not be large enough. So Northwestern was added to the mix. Since Fairview and Girard were both growing they appealed and the two schools were approved to proceed without the third.
By early 1968 the need was imminent. So, a new building was to be constructed on county land, about where the Potters Cemetery area is near Pleasant Ridge Manor. The school would be called Lake Erie High School, colors were to be royal blue, gold and white and the nickname was to be the “Vikings.” Girard bought football uniforms, Fairview bought wrestling mats and they talked of hiring an architectural firm together.
In the fall of 1968 the process was moving along and expected to be accomplished within the school year, with a new building ready by the fall of 1970. One of the boards made the proposal to combine the sports activities beginning that fall.
This didn’t happen. The students weren’t ready. They needed another year to get used to the idea, and so, the Homecoming games and all they involved were to be the last for both schools. Fairview’s opposing team was General McLane. Because Fairview did not have a field, the game (as usual for the “home games”) was played on the Girard field. Sue Manchester(in the middle) was chosen queen. Her escort was most likely the football team captain John Jenkins, which was the tradition. It was a bittersweet event that year, not only among the students but the alumni as well. Girard held its homecoming game a week later and experienced those same feelings.
Imagine. The last season as the Fairview Tigers. The last season as the Girard Yellow Jackets. Oh, my!
The saga went on for nearly two more years, with combined planning sessions, news of changes in requirements by the state, public meetings, appeals, etc., although not even one shovel of dirt was dug on a new building. Both boards were exhausted with the project. Another football season rolled around and still the teams remained separate. The urge to merge simply wasn’t there for the two boards. They appealed the ruling, were turned down and appealed again, this time on the premise that they were both growing. Finally, on January 8, 1970, the state board agreed that the two schools could remain as they were. Soon afterward, both school districts built new high schools.
And both schools have kept the happy tradition of Homecoming.