A Final Goodbye to a Friend
They came from near and far, driving in from New Hampshire, Connecticut and other states. Mostly they came from all over Rhode Island and of course, East Providence. A steady rain and cold weather couldn’t dampen nor deter nearly 4,000 former and current Townies from saying goodbye to an alma mater on Saturday, May 29th. They came to walk the halls of a beloved high school which will be shortly demolished. Towering over the current school is the brand new, state-of-the-art high school campus in the background. The new EPHS is ahead of schedule, on budget and ready to open its doors this 2021-22 school year. “We read about a walk through and thought we would take a ride up,” said Dan Brochu, Class of 1988 and now living in Stonington, Connecticut. “Since graduating I have probably been here only a couple of times. “I met many good friends and teachers over in the vocational school when I was here. Many of us still stay in touch. I’ve seen drone videos and pictures of the new school and I am absolutely impressed and amazed,” said Brochu who brought his family to visit. “Today I work with nuclear power. I had to come visit and say goodbye.”
Joe Medeiros, Class of 1975, also came by to say goodbye. A frequent visitor to the high school since graduation he was still moved to stop by and walk down memory lane once more. “There are so many memories I have, hard not to single out one. My era here was of double sessions and memories of just a busy, busy time. It was a different time to go to school than today. The new school seems to be incredible. The kids today deserve it,” added Medeiros.
They lined up at 8:30 for an advertised walk through of 9 am to 2:30 pm program. The crowd never let up as it remained steady throughout. Officials estimate close to 4,000 people attended. Townies from 1952 through 2021 came. They signed their names and classes on papers to be included in a time capsule for the new school.
As waves of Townies and their families walked throughout the building many were greeted by former classmates and friends they haven’t seen in a long time. Almost everyone had a camera and selfie and group pictures were the order of the day. One of the most popular photo backgrounds was “room 119” which was the Attendance Office where tardy students had to check in every morning. At times it was a discipline office too. “I spent many a day in this room,” said Sandy Williams from the Class of 1991. “Not me,” said a friend with a chuckle. All day the room 119 doorway was busy with photo shoots.
Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley, school finance director Craig Enos and district Facilities Director Tony Feola, greeted graduates and garnered signatures for the time capsule. At another table the Friends of Townie Athletics Organization was selling memorial bricks to be placed in front of the new school. At yet another table the Rumford Lions were selling their popular Christmas ornaments featuring the iconic Townie clock tower or Crescent Park items. School committee members Joel Monteiro, Jessica Beauchaine, Jenni Azinaro and Max Brandle were on hand to greet graduates.
A popular gym teacher from the 60’s and early 70’s, Dr. Izzy Ramos was met warmly by dozens of former students. Many other retired EPHS teachers were present and waxed nostalgic as they walked the corridors. The overall mood was festive, lighthearted and somewhat melancholy although just about everyone spoke positively about the new EPHS campus. As people walked through the building, they remarked how “tired and obsolete the place looked, especially the classrooms.” Many were already excited in anticipation of an open house for the new EPHS campus. “Give us some time, said a busy Superintendent Crowley. Let’s finish this year, clear out the old and set up the new school. You’re going to love it!” said Crowley.