More than 180 local senior citizens were given a complementary breakfast, a tour of the new fieldhouse and a chance to join the chorus singing “Happy Birthday” to two centenarians among them.
It was all part of the annual Seniors Breakfast hosted by Homewood-Flossmoor High School Wednesday, Oct. 15.
Students, staff, administrators and school board members greeted, served and entertained the seniors who attended.
“This is our opportunity to say 'Thank you,'” said Superintendent Von Mansfield, as he and school board member Jody Scariano welcomed seniors at the door of the north building.
Jodi Bryant, HF director of human resources and public relations, said the event has been offered annually for at least a dozen years.
Seretha Robinson, who attended for the second time, said it was appreciated.
“It's wonderful that HF remembers us seniors,” she said.
It was also an opportunity for the school to underscore the results of long-time community support.
After hearing greetings from Bryant and Mansfield, seniors heard from school board President Richard Lite. He noted one example of community support was the north building, with its new $26 million fieldhouse. Taxpayers approved a referendum in 2003, and the district has not returned to voters since and has no plans to do so in the immediate future, he said.
He lauded the district's sound financial practices, which earned it a AAA bond rating, fairly rare for school districts. That good credit rating enabled the district to borrow at a very low interest rate for the recent construction project.
“If you can raise money for free, you do,” he said. “Which allowed us to pay for this thing without one red penny tax increase for HF taxpayers.”
Lite also highlighted the academic excellence of HF students, noting that the school continues to be ranked high nationally in categories related to academic rigor and achievement.
“Anyone who values education — for the life of me I cannot imagine why they would not want to live in Homewood-Flossmoor,” he said.
Students were on hand to help demonstrate that point. As seniors were seated in the cafeteria, a pickup string quartet provided music, with Morgan Bohlman on bass, Terez Hobson on cello, Emma Kaye on violin and B.J. Engrav, HF orchestra director, on violin.
“We came for the music,” said Maricarmen Kick, who said she attended the breakfast two years ago and was impressed by the student musicians then. “I thought they were professionals.”
HF Principal Ryan Pitcock underscored Lite's comments about the quality of education, noting that while a school of 3,000 students faces big challenges, HF continues its tradition of excellence.
“Our kids are scoring as well as they ever have and behaving better,” he said, citing recent ACT scores and a decline in disciplinary incidents.
Pitcock led the group in a round of “HF” cheers, and also led the singing of “Happy Birthday” to Max Eysenbach and Mary Cantway, who each celebrated their 100th birthdays in September.
He then declared that the outside lane of the track in the new fieldhouse would informally be known as “Max and Mary Lane.”
“You've paid enough taxes over the years,” he said.
Following the breakfast, many seniors stayed for student-led tours of the new fieldhouse.
Afterward, Doris and Michael Stovell and Peggy and Jim Dunlavy stood in the lobby and tallied the children and grandchildren they have who have gone, are going or will go through HF's halls. They marveled at the facility their families would enjoy using.
“State of the art” was the term that cropped up most often in their conversation.
“You could put my high school gym in one corner of this,” Jim said. And Peggy noted that community members are invited to use the school's facilities during certain hours.
The indoor track is available from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, October through April. The outdoor track is available dawn to dusk year-round when it's not being used for competitive events. The indoor pool is available from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sundays from Oct. 5 through April 30 for a fee of $1 per person.
Homewood-Flossmoor High School
Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]