By AHS Alumni Association Co-Chairperson Mary Beth Oliver, AHS ’78
As co-chair of the AHS Alumni Association, I know there is something special about each of AHS’s 148 graduating classes. In my family we have a certain fondness for the classes 2013, 2009, 2006, 1978, 1954, 1951, 1950, and 1926. These are the classes of which my three daughters, my husband and I, my parents, and my grandmother were proud members. That pride, inherited by four generations of my family, is why I support a new AHS.
When my eventual husband Steve and I entered AHS in 1974, the community was ecstatic over the “new” AHS. The school’s modern library, up-to-date science labs, and spacious, open classrooms represented the “future” of education. The adults we looked up to each exhibited a sense of discernable pride in the educational opportunities this newly remodeled facility would bestow. Moving AHS from County Street to Rathbun Willard Drive represented both vast improvements and significant sacrifices on the part of community members. It also signified a fundamental belief that the education of children in a community is a responsibility we all share.
My own children have now each graduated from AHS. As parents we rightfully took pride in the strong academic standards upheld by an outstanding faculty whose talent often overshadowed the dilapidated building. However there is no amount of talent that can overcome the impediments of a building that has far outlived its lifespan. The technology deficiencies, erratic climate control systems, and rigidly structured classrooms are all indicative of problems that have persisted for too long. Like our predecessors we now have to make a choice that will dramatically affect our community’s future.
The AHS Alumni Association works to create a “unified, informed, and proud body of alumni through our service to school, classmates, and community.” We promote AHS’s success stories, from opportunities being pursued by students, to opportunities being created by the district’s dedicated staff. We organize the Attleboro Community Leaf Rake in which AHS students provide a valuable service to senior citizens. And we host the annual AHS Alumni Gathering bringing multiple generations together to highlight the achievements of the school and its graduates.
Through these initiatives we support AHS in the unyielding work of serving the community. Like most alumni Steve and I are no longer so-called direct stakeholders, but our adult children are well-prepared for life because of the commitment to education made by previous generations. That commitment was evident the day we walked into AHS in 1974, and now our generation has been charged with reaffirming it.
On April 3rd we will be asked to approve a temporary tax increase allowing Attleboro to capitalize on $126 million in state funding. More importantly we will be asked to continue Attleboro’s tradition of recognizing the obligation we owe to the city’s youth, who will in time move this community, and our world, forward. It is a tradition upheld by generations of AHS grads, including the classes of 1926, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1978, 2006, 2009, 2013, and many more.
It is a tradition I plan to fulfill by voting “yes.”
Mary Beth Oliver is the co-chairperson of the Attleboro High School Alumni Association and the proud parent of three graduates of AHS and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.