I was there when St. Peter Chanel High School in Bedford, Ohio, was born—I was in the school’s second graduating class in 1962—and now it looks as if I’m around when the school dies later this year. When I attended, it was called simply Chanel High School and was run by priests of the Society of Mary (Marists, not Marianists).
My four years there were largely happy ones, even though the brain tumor that was to come to a crisis later on was already causing frequent severe frontal headaches. My teachers were excellent, particularly the priests who gave me the best background in high school English it was possible to receive anywhere. My teachers were, in order, Fathers Gerard Hageman, Raymond E. Healy, Alan Parker, and Edward Murray.
Back then, Chanel was strictly a boys’ school, with girls being admitted much later, probably when the school was taken over by the Catholic Archdiocese of Cleveland, which changed its name to St. Peter Chanel, after the 19th century Marist martyr of Polynesia after whom the school was named.
In recent years, the enrollment has plummeted, with only 54 students enrolling for the current ninth-grade class.
I feel a great sadness about the school’s passing, because now I will never to be able to indulge in my fantasy of coming to the school’s aid with my millions. (Who am I kidding?) I feel I owe a debt to the good men who taught me—dedicated, smart, and devout men who gave their lives to God and to an ideal of education that seems to be passing away before our eyes. Who is that dedicated today? Few, very few. And those that are are under constant attack by Conservatives who back a misguided goal of home schooling by idiots.
Okay, Jim, so you’re a dinosaur. It is your sad role to note the passing of things that meant a great deal to you, while so many contemporary phenomena leave you cold. All those girls in jeggings and boots with their smart phones. All that cacophonous pop music. Television. Celebrities. Will you kids get off my lawn before I call the police!