By ninth grade, high school became center stage for me, as well as Vree. That winter, she signed up for her school’s softball team and I signed up for my school’s baseball team. Only Vree ever developed into a star player.
Unlike my high school, which was built in the 1950s, Ravenwood High was a fancy building of brick, cement, and safety glass built in 1969. Located at Jefferson Avenue northeast of the center of town, the school housed grades 7 through 12, a big auditorium for plays and concerts and pep rallies, and a long and tall gymnasium for physical education classes and basketball and volleyball games.
The school counselor and medical offices were in the heart of the building, giving students convenient access to all services. The administrative offices were in the east wing, and the main entrance and major corridor were centrally located to accommodate students, parents, and the community.
Slim gray lockers lined pastel colored hallway walls, and during the school year smells of food wafted from the huge cafeteria until 1 PM, and cookies and cakes scented the west hall all day where the Home Economic classes were located. Rally banners hung near the sports trophy case in the main hall and depending on the time of year, boasted demands for victories in football, basketball, wrestling, track, cross country, and baseball. Soccer, softball, swimming, bowling, golf and tennis were new sports added to the school’s athletics program and did not rank important enough for banners.
Behind the school was a spacious football field complete with fancy stadium-like lights, roomy bleachers, and soon-to-be-installed professional grade turf. Next door was the baseball field. It too had fancy lights and roomy bleachers as well as brand-new concrete dugouts, pitchers’ bullpens, and a well-tended mound. Dave played on the baseball team. He, too, was a star player. Ravenwood High’s colors were Navy Blue and White, and it proudly displayed the Fighting Eagle as its mascot and “Committed to Excellence: Wisdom Giveth Life” for its motto. After Vree made her softball team’s junior varsity squad, I wrote a few softball stories about her until June came and our schools emptied for another summer. We both graduated to tenth grade, and I spent the first few weeks recuperating from nine months of academia overload. I would not write another story about Vree until July 4, 1972.