Why don’t CMHS alumni come home?

Our county was brought together in 2001 by the merging of three different high schools.

Lock Haven, Bald Eagle Nittany and Sugar Valley high schools came together to form a seemingly perfect union: Central Mountain High School.

But nearly two decades later, this attempt to harmonize and grow all of the school spirit in Clinton County is failing, as our residents still seem to be quite split on where their high school loyalties lie.

As a current student of Central Mountain High School, I see the day-to-day that lives inside of those cement walls on the hill outside of Mill Hall.

I live through what graduates since 2001 have lived through, and I don’t think much has changed in the past 17 years.

Despite being a school as large and socially diverse as ours, I don’t feel the unity that we should be achieving.

As a student, I also attend most sporting events.

To my surprise, the homecoming football game, arguably the most important game of the year, seems to lack the entire point of itself: Homecoming.

For the past four years, I’ve attended almost ever home football game, and for the past four years, the homecoming game has been the same.

I look around to see the same faces I had seen in September, realizing the only people coming to homecoming are the ones whose homes are in Clinton County.

Why aren’t our Central Mountain alumni coming home?

Where along the line did we lose the enchantment of homecoming?

Did this 2001 merger actually divide us even more?

I can’t say for sure, but I can say what I have observed.

With four Central Mountain alumni as older siblings, I have talked about this topic and what the school represents after graduation.

High school is obviously important, but what makes it important after you’ve left?

If you were to ask my parents, both of them Lock Haven High School graduates, I think you’d get quite a different answer than the ones coming from my siblings.

To my parents, the memories hold the importance.

The relationships, the people, and the events, such as homecoming, made the experience worthwhile.

If you were to ask my siblings, and other Central Mountain graduates, they would tell you it was an important stepping-stone, but nothing more to them.

I can find few differences in the logistics of Lock Haven High School and Bald Eagle Nittany High School versus Central Mountain.

But the biggest one is the proximity.

As a Central Mountain student, some of my closest friends live more than 25 minutes away, yet we attend the same school.

Could this be one reason for the lack of “school spirit?”

Looking at high schools such as Williamsport Area or State College Area, we can see that school spirit doesn’t rely on a smaller school population, as these are highly populated schools bursting at the seams with school pride and spirit.

Our school lacks the rich history of most districts that surround us, since our merger happened just 17 years ago.

Do alumni need time to miss the school and community, and if so, is 17 years not enough?

Do we need to wait another 20 years until our first graduates have great-grandchildren attending the school to feel a real and deep sense of unity and pride? Generationally, we are at square one.

It is rare for a current CM student to have parents who have graduated from Central Mountain as well … could this be one of our downfalls?

Are our alumni waiting to bring their kids home, or rather waiting for their kids to be students and bring them home?

Why aren’t more alumni coming back to talk to our students, to be an active part of our school community? Can we, as students, alumni, parents, and community members bring this county together through our unified school, or will we forever be missing the “coming” part of homecoming?

Will school pride replace me in the halls after I have left, or will the generations to follow also miss out on this most important piece of a cherished high school experience?

Sarabeth Bowmaster of Wayne Township is a senior at Central Mountain High School and is the student government president. Watch for her guest column in The Express community newspaper and online at www.lockhaven.com.

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