|St. Joe Alumni Putting On Final Dance, Tours Through School|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
10:13AM / Monday, June 05, 2017
|The school is closing after 120 years.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It won't be long before St. Joseph Central High School becomes just another empty building. The artifacts will be shipped off elsewhere and the halls and classrooms will be vacant.
But before that happens, a group of alumni has organized a night to bring everybody back to the high school on Maplewood Avenue for one last send off. On Saturday, June 10, the school will be opened for one last high school dance.
"A few of us thought it would be a good idea to have everybody every affiliated to go through the school one more time," said Mike Messer.
The school will be open from 7 to 11 p.m. with hall monitors showing people around. The alumni can see their old lockers, classrooms, and trophies and banners before everything has to go. In the gym, there will be a cash bar featuring alumni as "celebrity bartenders" and music from a St. Joseph alumnus, DJ Rob Dwyer.
It even has a theme like many high school proms and dances, "Stairway to Heaven."
Messer said there will only be a short speaking program from former coaches and nuns. The event is informal and is just meant to connect former students and allow for time to relive the glory days.
"We want it to be low-key, casual, come as you are and stop by," Messer said.
The fee to get in is set at a nominal $1, a number the alumni hopes will bring more people in. The money will go toward the Sisters of St. Joseph, particularly the retirement fund, Messer said. There will be an opportunity to donate more if one chooses, but Messer said the program is not a fundraiser per se, but just an opportunity to bring everyone together one last time.
"It should just be a fun evening," Messer said.
The event also provides an opportunity to not only see the old school again but a chance to get in line for many of the items the school will have to get rid of. Messer said school officials will be on hand and taking names for pieces of memorabilia. Those attending won't be able to take anything home that night, but when the school does sort its inventory items slated to be disposed of can find a new home.
"Everything has got to go and people will be able to view everything in the building," Messer said, adding that the school is filled with old uniforms, yearbooks, trophies, and banners - some of which will be archived and some of which will be given away.
"They want it to land in a good home."
The idea of hosting the dance grew from a small group of alumni. Messer said he thought it would be a fun idea and then one of the sisters encouraged him to move forward. Soon he had about a dozen forming an ad-hoc committee to plan it out.
The group considered emphasizing the fundraising. They considered a big dinner. But ultimately, they decided to keep it simple.
"It is kind of a real grassroots, bottom-up thing," Messer said. "The main focus is just getting together."
In October the Diocese of Springfield announced the school would close at the end of the year
, after 120 years of operation in the city. That announcement has since brought many alumni together to hold celebrations and to fight the closure.