There has been a lot of talk in Garner recently about the impending deconstruction of Garner Magnet High School to make room for a newly renovated Garner high school. The conversations have largely been among older folks – Garner High grads – who have fond memories of their days in a high school that was truly the center of the community.
Garner Magnet High School continues to be a central part of the community. Many, many folks gather at the school to celebrate milestones, to attend ball games and to hear concerts and watch plays. It is important that the new building remain the center of the community once it is completed. Being central to a community is not about a specific building. It is more of a sense of place where important community experiences take place. For the students, certainly that is the case. It has been, and will be, the place they spend many of their waking hours during their formative years. That fact alone is what has drawn so many along on this recent trip down Memory Lane.
But the remembrances of so many people over the past few weeks serve another useful purpose. They help us recall the good things that make our high school an important community institution and they also offer us an opportunity to correct mistakes of the past. And, no, we aren’t talking about structural defects in an old-fashioned building, but rather we think of societal norms that have faded with the past and we now have the opportunity to welcome everyone under the same tent.
Once the school reopens in 2018, it will be different. Not only will there be a new building, but there will be a new high school and the quintessential Garner experience will be different for one group of young people than it is for another. That doesn’t have to be bad, but it is different. A community like Garner, which has a strong social fabric, can make it work, no matter what the building may look like.